If there's one message running through conservative blogs' coverage of the congressional testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and ambassador Ryan Crocker today, it's this: Liberals and Democrats are really, really mean.
Much of today's coverage has been devoted not to parsing the hearing and what was said about the situation in Iraq, but to what happened before the hearing, an ad from the liberal group MoveOn.org, placed in the New York Times, that asked: "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"
Hugh Hewitt wrote,
"I believe the repulsive ad by MoveOn.org in the New York Times this morning is a defining moment for the left and all the Democratic senators, representatives and presidential candidates who have accepted MoveOn.org money and support in the past. For MoveOn.org is it a moment of searing clarity that reveals them to be as divisive and as repugnant as Joe McCarthy was at the time of his 1954 fiasco in the Army-McCarthy hearings. The Democrats who fail to denounce the slander of this honorable and courageous American are complicit in that slander."
At Power Line -- which did no other posts on the hearing until late in the day, citing work commitments -- Paul Mirengoff still managed to excoriate MoveOn and ask, "Whatever the expectations of the congressional Dems, Moveon.org has accused a distinguished patriot, approved unanimously by the Senate to lead our war effort in Iraq, of betraying his country. How many Democrats will condemn Moveon.org for this? How many will even dispute its slanderous contention?"
And at Confederate Yankee, Bob Owens, displaying the press watchdog talents for which he has somehow become known, asked,
"Is there any way for us to know just how much The New York Times charged MoveOn.org for their full page 'General Betray Us' advertisement today? Did they pay full price, or did they get a special, reduced rate?
"I'd like to know if advertising rates of the New York Times are determined by the political message taking up the ad space, and whether or not a discrepancy in such rates, if one exists, is something that they owe it to their readers to disclose."
Isn't idle speculation fun? (For the record, according to former Salon staffer Jake Tapper, now at ABC News, the ad cost $65,000.)
Others, like Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom, discussed and attacked the antiwar protesters in attendance. Goldstein -- another who complained of being too busy to post comprehensively on the hearing -- wrote specifically about Cindy Sheehan, the off-again on-again protester who was arrested today.
Don't get us wrong: There was some substance out there. At Hot Air, for instance, the anonymous "Allahpundit" kept an interesting rundown going. And the Tank, a blog of the National Review, also had several posts that were substantive and worth reading, if hardly surprising in their take.
Over at the Corner, another of the National Review's blogs, Kate O'Beirne reported the results of an interesting conversation she had with an anonymous senior administration official:
"The widespread assumption is that the surge is unsustainable beyond late Spring or early Summer owing to the unavailability of sufficient troops. The Administration acknowledges that maintaining the elevated number of forces in Iraq would take some 'hard choices,' like extending tours from 15 months to 16 or 17, and/or reducing the time between deployments from 12 months to 10 or 11. A senior official stressed that the way forward would be dictated by conditions on the ground and General Petraeus' view of what he needs. When the General makes his recommendations in the Spring, President Bush would have emphasized, 'don't recommend anything that jeopardizes success.' The President is 'prepared to do whatever it takes' to maintain the kind of security progress that will permit his successor to sustain the necessary military commitment in Iraq. His successor's successor was also mentioned. It was explained that a long-term commitment to Iraq is necessary in order to realize the long-term benefit of a stable, democratic Iraq."