I consider the ad to be an early phase of a multi stage campaign. It's sort of like an undercoat of paint-- a primer, first laid on before the final color is put on the wall or the car. (I can't find a link to a viewable version of the ad. IF you find one, please ad it as a comment)
This ad primes viewers to hold moveon.org in contempt, to consider it unpatriotic, disrespectful, even traitorous to the US and the our troops. The goal is to associate moveon.org with the most contemptible, to create a "despicability response."
By itself, the ad seems silly, obnoxious, stupid. But it is far more. The ad "tags" moveon.org so all that later ads have to do is mention moveon.org and say that a candidate is supported by it and the statement takes on different meaning.
The last few election cycles, it has been standard right wing campaign playbook strategy to associate every Democratic candidate with moveon-- in a very disparaging tone. This new attack on moveon.org will increase the strength and influence of these ads, which are sure to come.
That means that, even if the leaders in the Democratic party don't agree with moveon.org, even if they don't particularly like them, they need to do something NOW to neutralize the ad, it's message and the whole campaign the Republicans are mounting against moveon, including the sense of the senate measure Texas senator John Cornyn is reportedly introducing today.
Failure to neutralize this message will cost the Dems massively next year and perhaps for years to come. If the Dems and actually, the greens and all other left leaning groups, do not strongly, aggressively and creatively, this advertisement will build a base that right wing swift boat-type advertisers will be able to simply use the word moveon as a weapon against every federal democratic candidate-- running for senate, house and president.
George Bush, commenting today on moveon's original Betray Us ad, said, "I thought the ad was disgusting, that it not only attacked General Petraeus, but it also attacked the United States Military." And he went on to criticize the Democrats for not condemning the ad, saying that they were afraid to irritate the left wing and chose to support Moveon and attack the military.
Be assured this criticism of the ad is an orchestrated, systematic, right wing attack, planned from on high. The Democratic leadership should be making a serious strategic investment in determining how to orchestrate and coordinate a strong, tough aggressive response.
How should the the leaders on the left respond? Here's my take:
1- No democrat should support the Cronyn bill. Assume Joe Lieberman will. But they should reject it and frame it as a strictly partisan, political ploy, and attack it as wasting the senate's time. If even on Democrat supports it, the Republicans will be able to use it to bash all the other Dems. Any dem who supports it who is running for office next year should be targetted in the primary. Unity is essential here.
2- Moveon should respond to the ad, attacking the ad, the people funding it and the politicians endorsing it and the message. Remember how, in the movie, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT, Michael Douglas, after holding back, finally defends his fiance, saying she is being attacked for wanting to do the right thing-- to protect the environment. WIth that in mind, a strong response should ask questions that justify the good intentions of the moveon ad:
Did you know that General Betray Us is one of the most political, partisan generals in recent history?
Did you know that one of his superiors has said Petraeus is "An Ass-Kissing, Little Chickensh*t,' "I Hate People Like That''?"
Did you know that General Betray Us has already confided that he wants to run for president?
Is it unpatriotic to challenge decisions that put our troops at risk, especially decisions by a leadership that has repeatedly been proven to deceive and to exercise bad judgment?