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It's (Past) Time for Murtha to Resign By: FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, December 03, 2007


With one comment late last week, John Murtha argued eloquently for his own resignation.

In a video teleconference last Thursday, Murtha told his constituents, “I think the ‘surge’ is working.”

Jack Murtha is remembered as the main opponent of American involvement in Iraq, who argued not merely against the surge but for an immediate withdrawal while al-Zarqawi still treated Anbar province as the beachhead of a new, pan-Islamic Caliphate. The Abscam unindicted co-conspirator has demoralized the troops for years by claiming the war is “lost” and can never be “won militarily”; he has now vindicated the president and invalidated his unchanging, interminable counsel of withdrawal.

Every public official has the right to be wrong on an issue, even forcefully wrong – and to bear the responsibility for his stand. That’s what being a “Profile in Courage” is all about. As the most publicly visible advocate of American surrender, his endorsement of the surge he derided as hopeless and opposed even as it was bearing fruit just months ago amounts to an almost total self-repudiation. His continued, full-throated defense of American withdrawal from Vietnam, Beirut, and Somalia – the three reversals that convinced Osama bin Laden he could attack the Great Satan with impunity – indicate the Congressman is not merely passionately wrong but possibly ineducable. This alone would demand for the resignation of an honorable man. The most compelling reason for John Murtha’s resignation, though, is that he is not an honorable man. Citing inside military sources, he publicly accused U.S. Marines of murdering innocent Iraqis “in cold blood.” (Unfortunately, Murtha was not referencing these informants when he said, “Look, these guys have lied to us so much, I've even lost confidence in the military”; he was referring to those honest enlisted men who said the surge was working.) Although all but one of the accused has been cleared of criminal charges, Murtha pointedly refused to apologize for painting American troops as pariahs, sadists, and maniacs – even as they face al-Qaeda demons who cook their opponents’ children alive.

Media coverage of his admission has been predictably disappointing. Not one of the three “major” networks covered the Congressman’s self-destructive comment. Certain aspects of the Murtha story were significantly absent from those media outlets that deigned to cover the story at all. Gone were references to Murtha as a “decorated war hero,” a war hawk of unassailable patriotism who could be counted on to make the well-being of his brothers-in-arms his lodestar. (The Associated Press cited this hagiography only when noting Murtha’s opposition to the war.)

The media did not report that such an admission proves the president’s military strategy has been an overwhelming success. Only the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dared to note:

About 711 Iraqi civilians have been killed or found dead in November, according to statistics compiled by The Associated Press. That figure compares with 2,155 deaths in May. U.S. forces also have seen a major decline in casualties. The military yesterday reported its 35th death in November, the lowest monthly number since March 2006. More than 120 troops died in May of this year, just as the troop surge was reaching its height.

Nor did “mainstream” media reporters place his comments into greater political context. None pointed out that the leadership of both houses of Congress wrote off the surge as an utter failure months ago, even before it had reached full-strength. Few noted the political implications of the admission. CNN revealed that Murtha “stunned” his colleagues. Only The Politico surmised, “This could be a huge problem for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders, who are blocking approval of the full $200 billion being sought by President Bush for combat operations in Iraq in 2008.” It further quoted a “top House Democratic aide,” who responded: “This could be a real headache for us. Pelosi is going to be furious.”

This was the first and last media assessment that Murtha’s comments meant trouble for Congressional Democrats. The Washington Post’s Jonathan Weisman analyzed the statement, when asked, parrying that while “progress poses a huge dilemma for the Democrats…a new poll from the Pew Center found that Americans are far more optimistic about military efforts in Iraq and still back Democratic efforts to end the war. For Republicans, that is the dilemma.”

Instead, media outlets took the opportunity of Murtha’s “clarification” the next day to belittle those bold enough to mention this sea-change political development. CNN claimed “Republicans quickly seized Murtha’s comments.” The AP and Fox News, “GOP shill” that it is, also said Republicans had “pounced” on his words.

Although CNN’s John Roberts underscored the totality of this flip-flop, no media outlet has reported the complete hypocrisy embodied by Thursday’s statement. Local media reported, “Mr. Murtha, a Vietnam veteran who chairs the powerful House panel on defense spending, said the latest military successes aren't a surprise.” This is the same John Murtha who confidently asserted in March on Meet the Press “a surge just won’t work. And that’s what we believe, and, and I think, in the end, this is what you’ll see will happen.” In July, as the surge quelled violence and drove “insurgents” out of Iraq, Murtha insisted: “I think the surge has failed. I think there was no possibility it was going to work.”

Although he said repeatedly the military conflict “cannot be won military,” in his post-faux pas interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Osama’s Congressman said, “militarily, sure, we can win.”

In his “clarification” – which even a usually complicit media dubbed “unusual” – Murtha further contradicted himself. “The fact remains that the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily, and that we must begin an orderly redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as practicable.” But, he added, “If you put more forces in, things will work out.” He concluded, “We can't win.” Not only can Murtha not craft a winning foreign strategy for America’s troops in wartime, he can’t voice his own vision of retreat without contradicting himself.

When two Brookings Institution antiwar liberals wrote Iraq was “A War We Just Might Win,” Murtha retorted, “They were there seven days…I dismiss it as rhetoric.” During his own short stint in the region, Murtha met U.S. troops in Kuwait and discovered to his shock, “They want to finish the job. But, on the other hand, they want to get home.” That would describe the aspirations of any enlisted man in any war in American history. It would also be exactly what Murtha’s plan would prevent.

Murtha is an ethically defective defeatist who has advocated the Waziristan Party Line on foreign policy for more than two decades. He has unapologetically handed Osama bin Laden a propaganda coup while falsely maligning the Marines he claims to support. He has acknowledged the error of his most deeply-held policy position, which he now cannot even enunciate in anything resembling a coherent fashion. 

U.S. Marines should have the time they need to finish their job. Jack Murtha should not.




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