Editorial: Murtha's mind / Congress's defense expert tells the truth on Iraq
Friday, August 04, 2006
Rep. John Murtha is a person who knows Washington, the military and America -- and who, at 74, after 32 years in Congress, is prepared to speak out on these subjects, no matter what the political cost.
He met with the Post-Gazette Editorial Board Tuesday to discuss a range of issues at comfortable length.
Murtha must be happy that he can approach either Pittsburgh newspaper (what have you done, Tribune-Review?) and be made to feel at home. At this point, the local print media will give Murtha a pass on everything. Any "political cost" that he might (and should) suffer is going to be countered by affection from pompous local journalists. Let's see how lovey-dovey the P-G gets.
The Democrat from Johnstown recently attracted considerable attention, and the wrath of the Bush administration, by expressing the opinion that it is past time to put forward a plan for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. He bases this assessment on his reading not just of the situation there, but also of the state of the U.S. military nearly 31/2 years after the invasion. Mr. Murtha is in an especially good position to make such a judgment based on his distinguished service as a Marine and on his many years with the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.They love his experience. He's got a great resume. (But that's the past. What about the present?)
He is so close to members of the military at different levels that he is considered by some to virtually speak for the U.S. military in the Congress.What the hell??? This is beyond belief. Who is this "some" who considers that to be true? Try asking some our people serving in the armed forces if they consider Murtha to be their spokesman.
On the question of U.S. leadership, he declines to speak out personally against President Bush, in spite of the slime being loosed on the congressman -- some of it in Johnstown yesterday -- by critics reminiscent of the "Swift boat" attacks against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in the 2004 campaign.Implicit in this passage is the leftist belief that any organized effort from the right is personally orchestrated and led by the President. Everything that those of us do or say to oppose Murtha is a "Swift Boat attack". The "slime", as the P-G calls it, comes from ordinary Americans. We have brains, wills, and consciences of our own. The media is insulting our intelligence by putting forth the suggestion that it all comes down from the White House.
Who's sliming who, here?
What Rep. Murtha does say is that he can't assess Mr. Bush because he doesn't know him. It is, of course, remarkable that this president never reached out to Mr. Murtha in Washington, given the congressman's rich, relevant experience. Mr. Murtha said Mr. Bush simply does not understand the limits of military power.Well, heck, let's just give Jack an office at the White House and a dedicated line into the Oval Office. If he represents the military in Congress, why not make him the President's spokesman on military affairs.
Or would the media prefer George Bush to abdicate in favor of John Murtha? He has the experience and understanding for the job, as he told the P-G editors.
Rep. Murtha expressed concern at the budget deficit, at what he estimates to be the $8 billion being spent monthly on the war, and his belief that even if the war were being ended and its cost reduced, the Congress would find other ways to spend the so-called "peace dividend" rather than taking on the vital task of rebuilding the degraded U.S. military.That belief of Murtha's may be rooted in his confidence that his party is going to win a majority in Congress this year, and if that happens, the last thing those folks will want to do is spend money on the military. Look in the mirror, Mr. Murtha. You can't blame a Republican president and Congress for that happening.
His prescription for mending America and its military is what he calls "a change of direction," by which he means a change of leaders as well as policy. He believes the route to that change is by making the Bush administration accountable at the ballot box for what it has done.He still thinks he's running against Bush. Please keeping thinking that way, Jack. Ignore your opponent. If, as Tip O'Neill said, "all politics is local", then you are doing Diana Irey a favor by running a national campaign while she deals with all issues of concern to the PA 12th.
In June, Rep. Murtha said that he will run for majority leader if the Democrats win control of the chamber in November; then days later he suspended his quest. Whether this is a real ambition on his part or simply a means to focus more public and party leadership attention on his view of Iraq remains to be seen.No one took him seriously as a candidate for the leadership post before. He did that to get the public's attention. It's a common ploy practiced by politicians and other celebrities. Everyone's a P. T. Barnum these days. Sure, if his dream were to come true and the Dems would take over, he would be rewarded with an important post but it's unlikely that he would receive serious consideration as majority leader, and everyone knows it.
The Post-Gazette editors conclude:
In any case, this is a wise man, whose judgments are built on experience and whose opinions are very much to the point and worthy of attention and respect.Yes, he has experience. Yes, he holds strong opinions and he won't hesitate to tell you what he thinks. But "a wise man"? "Worthy of attention and respect"?
Only in the minds of journalistic gatekeepers who sit back and let John Murtha's mouth dictate their next editorial.
***Leo Pusateri adds***
Looks like some 3-year olds have more sense than some newspaper editorial writers: