Yesterday Congressman Jack Murtha (D – Pa), a Marine combat veteran who was wounded twice in Vietnam and was awarded two Purple Hearts, called for withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq to begin immediately, and proposed a resolution on the matter. Murtha, who has always been known as a military hard-liner, is the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, and the former chairman of that committee. Murtha called the Administration’s Iraq policy "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion," and said the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is "uniting the enemy against us."
Naturally the rabid attack dogs of the Republican machine, most of whom have never worn the uniform of this country, sprang into action. They called Murtha a coward, and accused him of wanting to cut and run. The White House said that Murtha was advocating surrender, and compared him to Michael Moore. Murtha, in a thinly veiled swipe at Vice President Dick Cheney that could apply to many of his critics, said:
"I like guys who’ve never been there who criticize us who’ve been
there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments
and never been there and sent people to war and then don’t like to hear
suggestions about what may need to be done."
As usual, the Democrats are bewildered. They don’t know quite what to do, and so far very few of them have spoken up to defend Congressman Murtha. One exception has been Senator John Kerry, who took to the Senate floor today in strong support of Murtha. Kerry took particular exception to comments made my Speaker Dennis Hastert, another non-veteran, attacking Murtha.
There is now speculation that Republicans will attempt to bring a resolution to the floor of the House which is not the resolution that Murtha proposed, but one that calls for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. This would open the issue to a debate. The resolution will be defeated of course, which to Republican minds would amount to a show of strength. Make no mistake, the resolution that will be defeated tonight is not Murtha’s resolution. There is the possibility that such a move could boomerang, but only if the Democrats manage to find some backbone quickly.