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Thursday, November 17, 2005


john murtha

a venerable and respected bipartisan, a decorated marine corps veteran of 37 years and inveterate hawk, congressman john murtha is one of the last people i would have expected to rescind his position of support for the ongoing war in iraq. however, in a move that signals a sea change among even formerly solid supporters of the administration and its misguided elective war, murtha today came out for an immediate withdrawal of american armed forces in iraq.

"The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress," [Murtha] said. "It's time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk."

... "The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion."

... "We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region," Murtha said.
i would hardly disagree on any count.

his comments come on the heels of a new political offensive in which vice president cheney employed the typical fraudulent and duplicitous bluster that has made him the least credible and most dangerous politician to have an office in the white house since the nixon administration. cheney, like many politicians (but unlike others), simply isn't stupid enough to believe what he's saying, as men like longtime friend but now ostensible enemy brent scowcroft have noted. unlike many politicians, however, cheney has seated himself at the reins of the chariot the empire, where he can do immeasurable damage. cheney's comments elicited this response from murtha:

Murtha, a Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam, angrily shot back at Cheney: "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."
in another sign of rebellion, a bipartisan group of senators is threatening to scuttle the renewal of the patriot act because many of the limited safeguards for american citizens contained in the senate version of the bill were eliminated in committee. raimondo discusses the unrest on capitol hill as an administration caught in a mire of serious scandal with microsopic public approval becomes a 2006 electoral liability to its allies.

but this shouldn't be confused with murtha's reversal. he is one of the few congressmen on either side of the aisle who eschew grandstanding for competence and leadership. murtha shed tears at his press conference and talked at length about visiting with the wounded, betraying a deep sense of moral culpability for an amoral war and a matching barely-concealed rage at the administration which compounded in iraq the manifold flaws of its incredible utopian ideology with the most egregious and incompetent mishandling of the war's execution. one hopes murtha's considerable influence awakens more of the supporters of this sorry episode in american imperial decline to the nature and extent of the disaster they have helped to facilitate.

UPDATE: how desperate is the white house in the face of murtha's reversal? while trying to keep the president above the fray, spokesman scott mcclelland tried to smear murtha so ridiculously as to make himself laughable.

The debate over Iraq policy turned more bitter after Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., called for President Bush to remove troops from Iraq within six months. Republicans called Murtha's position one of abandonment and surrender and suggested that the decorated Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War and like-minded politicians were acting cowardly.

On Monday, Murtha, a key Democrat on military issues, defended his call to get out of Iraq, saying he was reflecting Americans' sentiment. "The public turned against this war before I said it," Murtha said. "The public is emotionally tied into finding a solution to this thing, and that's what I hope this administration is going to find out."

Last week, the White House responded to Murtha's statement with ire. Spokesman Scott McClellan linked Murtha, a longtime supporter of the military who had backed the war, to maverick filmmaker Michael Moore and the far-left wing of the Democratic Party.

But Bush, who is returning Monday from a tour of Asia, later eased up on the criticism, praising Murtha as "a fine man" and saying that disagreeing with the administration was not unpatriotic.
this is the same murtha correctly described by steve clemons as "out of a Tom Clancy novel" and a "living version of John Wayne in Congress", who is one of the most ardent supporters of the american military in government. he is also, as raimondo notes, a confidant of the american military brass -- people who he speaks for because they will not speak themselves, and with whom he certainly deliberated on coming to this change of position. it is no exaggeration that murtha is speaking for a great many american generals in saying that we should not be in iraq anymore. and that is the injury that provoked such rabid vitriol from histrionic militant nationalists -- he is putting the lie to the administration propaganda piece that claims its position is only that of america's military experts.

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