In a New York Daily News column, Michael Goodwin claimed that a Democratic amendment that "condemn[ed] all attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism of any individual who is serving or has served honorably in the United States Armed Forces, by any person or organization" was "almost identical" to an alternative Republican amendment "except that [the Democratic amendment] did not mention MoveOn." Though the Democratic amendment did not refer to MoveOn.org by name, it did specifically criticize MoveOn's ad about Gen. David Petraeus.
In a September 23 New York Daily News column, Michael Goodwin claimed that an amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) -- which "condemn[ed] all attacks on the honor, integrity, and patriotism of any individual who is serving or has served honorably in the United States Armed Forces, by any person or organization" -- was "almost identical" to an alternative amendment offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), "except that [Boxer's amendment] did not mention MoveOn." Though Boxer's amendment did not refer to the progressive grassroots group MoveOn.org by name, it did specifically criticize MoveOn's advertisement in the September 10 New York Times -- titled "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" -- as "an unwarranted personal attack on General [David] Petraeus."
After asserting that Boxer's amendment "did not mention MoveOn," Goodwin went on to criticize Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) for voting against Cornyn's amendment and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for not voting on it. (Both senators voted in favor of Boxer's amendment.) Goodwin falsely claimed Clinton "refus[ed] to denounce the far-left MoveOn.org for its smear of our top commander in Iraq," adding, "Clinton has taken another big step away from the center of American politics." Goodwin also claimed that Obama "duck[ed]" "the vote against MoveOn" by not voting on Cornyn's amendment.
Moreover, Goodwin's description of the two amendments as "almost identical" overlooks a significant difference between the two. Indeed, unlike the Cornyn amendment, which, in the words of that amendment, "repudiate[s] the unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus by the liberal activist group Moveon.org" and "condemn[s] any effort to attack the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces," the Boxer amendment cited the Republican-backed attacks against Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) regarding their military service, as well as the MoveOn.org ad.
As Media Matters for America has noted, a September 21 New York Times article on the passage of Cornyn's amendment falsely claimed that Boxer's amendment "did not mention the MoveOn.org ad" and -- much like Goodwin's column -- stated that Boxer's amendment was "extremely similar" to Cornyn's. Despite both claiming that the two pieces of legislation were very similar, ignoring the Cornyn amendment's omission of attacks on Democrats, neither Goodwin nor Times reporter David M. Herszenhorn noted the inconsistency in the votes of the 46 Republicans who opposed the Boxer amendment while voting for the Cornyn amendment.
From Goodwin's September 23 column, headlined, "Now playing left field ...: Hillary's refusal to condemn attacks on Gen. Petraeus is unpresidential":
'The clatter of campaign promises being thrown out the window" was how the late Sen. Daniel Moynihan famously scolded a congressional witness 15 years ago. Fast-forward to the current campaign of Moynihan's successor, and one hears a different but no less disconcerting clatter. It is the sound of Sen. Hillary Clinton throwing away the chance to build support in the military she hopes to command.
With her refusal to denounce the far-left MoveOn.org for its smear of our top commander in Iraq, Clinton has taken another big step away from the center of American politics. On the most important issue of our times -- Iraq and the fight against Islamic terrorism -- the Democratic presidential front-runner has thrown her lot in with the radicals, kooks and nuts that litter the wackadoo wing. And she has turned her back on our soldiers and their leaders during wartime.
This is not the first time she has gone AWOL on the military. Back in May, Clinton voted to cut off all funds for the war. That she was in a small minority then was an alarming indication of how far she was willing to go to placate the anti-war base of the party. It was not, we know now, an aberration.
In the May vote, she was one of only 14 senators to support cutting off funds. In last week's resolution that saluted Gen. David Petraeus and denounced MoveOn for calling him "General Betray Us," in a newspaper ad, Clinton's no vote was one of only 25, with 72 senators voting yes.
It is a sorry spectacle, and incomprehensible because her lurch is wrong in terms of policy and politically unnecessary. The far-left wing does not elect Presidents or usually even pick nominees. Ask Howard Dean.
And Clinton knows she is under additional scrutiny because she is the only woman ever to get this close to being elected President. Fairly or not, women, especially Democratic women who tilt left, are suspect on whether they will be social workers or commanders in chief in a security crunch. Now it will be much harder for her to convince skeptics.
Tellingly, Clinton voted for an earlier resolution Thursday that was almost identical to the one that passed except that it did not mention MoveOn. That resolution failed.
The two resolutions were a litmus test -- by supporting one and opposing the other, Clinton put her ties to the radicals ahead of her ties to the military.
Her closest competitor, Sen. Barack Obama, was worse, if that's possible. Accused last week of "acting white" by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Obama acted yellow on the Senate votes. He voted for the resolution that failed, then didn't show up for the second one. He said his nonvote was "my protest against these empty politics." That elitist pose would have rung true if he had skipped both votes. By ducking only the vote against MoveOn, he showed he, too, is afraid of the far left.