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MoveOn.org Made A Mistake

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The recent NY Times ad by MoveOn.org was done in poor taste.  Instead of evoking the desired result, it put into question the judgment of those who crafted the ad with the corny play on words, General Betray-Us.  The ad cost them a reported $70,000 and such an ad does not represent the kind of communication and message that would have been meaningful.  The wording of the ad could only play to the already convinced loyal base.  The point of advocacy advertising is to convince the independent undecided citizen to accept one's point of view.  Ridiculing a 4 Star General is not the way to reach the hearts and minds of the average U.S. citizen.

As much as I think that the Democrats have not shown much courage in the debate about the war, this ad gives the right wing lots of ammunition to attack the left wing of the Democratic Party.  The smarter use of advocacy advertising would have been the way Ari Fleischer has used Freedom's Watch to place $15M in ads to advocate for continuing the war.  These ads are well done, albeit false and exploitive of the disabled veterans that are in them.  The ad money allocated by Moveon.org should be done in a way that does not expose them to attacks.  The $70,000 paid for this NY Times ad could have purchased many minutes of local radio time with a clear attack on the policy and not the person.  Ad homonym attack ads may be useful in a head on political campaign, but they miss the mark when it comes to advocacy ads. 

MoveOn.org is a credible and valuable organization that should more carefully allocate its resources to credible advocacy as opposed to personal attack ads that make the opposition look like the victims.  When it comes to head on confrontation, I am all for taking off the gloves.  However, given that we on the left know that General Petraeus is a straw man for the White house, we should not attack the messenger.  He is not the problem and we should not let Bush off the hook by putting some misplaced anger on him.

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Sheldon Drobny was the co-founder of Nova M radio and Air America Radio. He has supported many philanthropic causes. Mr. Drobny specializes in business and tax matters and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court as a non-attorney. Less (more...)
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