The Drudge Report and the National Review's Rich Lowry falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama didn't vote to condemn MoveOn.org's 2007 newspaper advertisement critical of Gen. David Petraeus. In fact, Obama did vote for an amendment by Sen. Barbara Boxer that condemned the ad, as well as other attacks on past and present members of the armed forces, as the USA Today blog post to which the Drudge Report linked points out.
Internet gossip Matt Drudge and National Review editor Rich Lowry revived the falsehood that Sen. Barack Obama did not condemn MoveOn.org's General Petraeus ad. On June 30, the Drudge Report falsely claimed that Obama didn't vote to condemn MoveOn.org's 2007 newspaper advertisement critical of Gen. David Petraeus and ran the following headlines -- "Obama: I will never question others' patriotism..."; "Criticizes MoveOn.org for 'General Betray Us' Ad..."; "BUT DIDN'T VOTE TO CONDEMN AD..." The latter headline linked to a September 20, 2007, post on USA Today's On Politics blog, which noted that Obama "did not vote on" an amendment by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) that, in the words of the amendment, "repudiate[s] the unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus by the liberal activist group Moveon.org." However, while Obama was not present for the vote on Cornyn's amendment, which passed, the USA Today blog post to which Drudge linked reported: "The AP said Obama did not vote on the resolution even though he had voted 'minutes earlier' for an alternative that condemned the MoveOn ad as an 'unwarranted personal attack,' but also condemned attack ads that questioned the patriotism of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and former Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., both Vietnam veterans." Indeed, Obama did vote for a separate amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) that condemned the ad, as well as other attacks on past and present members of the armed forces. Lowry echoed Drudge while appearing as guest co-host on the June 30 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, claiming that "there was a vote in the Senate ... and Barack Obama did not vote to condemn that ad."
Additionally, a June 30 article in The Hill, to which Drudge also linked, reported that "in a major speech on patriotism, [Obama] criticized MoveOn.org for referring to Gen. David Petraeus as General Betray Us last year. ... Obama did not vote last year when the Senate approved a measure condemning the controversial Petraeus ad." A separate June 30 Hill article also stated of the ad: "Obama did not vote last year when the Senate approved a measure condemning the controversial Petraeus ad." Similarly, a July 1 Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) reported that when the MoveOn.org "ad first launched in September Sen. Obama defended Gen. Petraeus but didn't vote when the Senate approved a measure condemning the ad." However, neither The Hill nor the Journal noted that Obama voted for the Boxer amendment.
As Media Matters for America documented, the Boxer amendment "strongly condemn[ed] 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." The amendment stated of the MoveOn.org ad: "On September 10, 2007, an advertisement in the New York Times was an unwarranted personal attack on General Petraeus, who is honorably leading our Armed Forces in Iraq and carrying out the mission assigned to him by the President of the United States." It also criticized Republican-backed attacks on Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) military service, as well as attacks on Vietnam veteran and former Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA). Fifty senators voted in support of the measure, while 47 voted against. As Media Matters noted, under an agreement reached by the Senate leadership, a cloture vote and a vote on final passage were combined for this and other Iraq-related amendments, meaning that the amendment needed 60 votes to pass.
From the June 30 Hill article:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Monday, in a major speech on patriotism, criticized MoveOn.org for referring to Gen. David Petraeus as General Betray Us last year.
The Illinois senator said politics too often seems "trapped in old, threadbare arguments" that he called "caricatures of left and right."
This, Obama added, was "most evident during our recent debates about the war in Iraq, when those who opposed administration policy were tagged by some as unpatriotic, and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal."
Obama did not vote last year when the Senate approved a measure condemning the controversial Petraeus ad.
The Democrat argued that "given the enormous challenges that lie before us, we can no longer afford these sorts of divisions."
MoveOn.org, a powerful left-of-center interest group, endorsed Obama in the Democratic presidential race.
From the June 30 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
LOWRY: Let me get back to Obama's speech today. I thought it was a very nice speech. There are a couple things that jumped out at me, though.
One was he made an oblique condemnation of MoveOn.org. If you remember that ad they ran attacking General Petraeus as General Betray Us when he testified last year. What I thought was interesting is when that controversy was hot, when that ad came out, there was a vote in the Senate, and this was during the Democratic primaries, when Barack Obama was pandering to the left wing of the party, and Barack Obama did not vote to condemn that ad.
So to me, this is just another instance where, in the primaries, he did what he had to do to pander to the left, and now he's moving to the center. Is that really the new politics?
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (D-Los Angeles): I think what both candidates want to do is speak to America, center. They want to do that because both parties are trying to claim the center. And that's not something new in this campaign. You've seen that in every campaign since I can remember.
LOWRY: But Barack Obama -- but Barack Obama is supposed to be the new politician.
From the July 1 Wall Street Journal article:
Sen. Obama used the speech to take a swipe at MoveOn.org, the liberal activist group that has been a staunch backer of his campaign since early February. He critiqued the group for launching an ad last year that refers to Gen. David Petraeus as General Betray Us.
"Our politics still seems trapped in these old, threadbare arguments," Sen. Obama said, "...[when] a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal."
When the ad first launched in September Sen. Obama defended Gen. Petraeus but didn't vote when the Senate approved a measure condemning the ad. "All of us respect the service of Gen. Petraeus and all of our brave men and women in uniform," he said in a statement.
A spokesman for MoveOn.org declined to comment on the speech.
From the Drudge Report, accessed at 2:50 p.m. ET on June 30: