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The Murtha Factor
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, June 22, 2006

Is John Murtha becoming more of a liability than an asset for Democrats?

Robert Novak wonders if their national security star isn't wearing a bit thin and points to his recent appearance on Meet the Press as an example. Murtha told host Tim Russert that the US could redeploy to Okinawa and support Iraq from there in a timely manner.
In fact, a Pentagon spokesman says it would take ''under a month'' to prepare and send a 4,500-man Marine Expeditionary Force 6,000 nautical miles from Okinawa to Bahrain and then 600 more miles to Baghdad.

Murtha's Okinawa answer embarrassed Democratic House members who would not dream of criticizing publicly the former back-room pol who became an icon to the party's antiwar base last November by calling for an immediate troop withdrawal. His performance on ''Meet the Press'' reinforced dismay inside the party that Murtha, at age 74, has announced his candidacy for majority leader if the Democrats regain control of the House.
Note Novak's point about the fact that Democrats wouldn't dream of criticizing Murtha publicly. It's not that they wouldn't dream of it, it is because they really can't. They've painted themselves in a corner. They've trotted Murtha out there as an expert who, because of his former service, can't be assailed or if he is, allows them to scream about Republicans going after a "war veteran" as if that status magically makes his opinions unassailable.

Given that strategy, Democrats certainly can't suddenly criticize him when he says foolish things, such as his Okinawa strategy.

Novak points out another part of the evolving Murtha argument. When no substance is available, is to resort to the tired and discredited "chickenhawk" argument and variations on that theme. And Novak is right, he wears his veteran status like a suit of armor:
Murtha now wears his heroic combat record like a suit of armor. In recent House debate over the Iraq war resolution, Murtha dominated the Democratic side — compensating for a lack of articulation with vehemence. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a freshman Republican from Texas, had the temerity to suggest that had Murtha ''prevailed after the bloodbaths in Normandy and in the Pacific . . . we would be here speaking Japanese or German.'' Murtha pounced on Gohmert, asking whether he had been a combat soldier. The Republican had not, and he meekly thanked Murtha for ''all that he has done with the wounded.''

Murtha disqualifies adversaries who have not tasted combat, which includes the vast majority in the Congress. He repeats the comparison between civilian officials in ''air-conditioned chambers'' and soldiers carrying ''70 pounds every day facing IEDs.'' On ''Meet the Press,'' Murtha referred to presidential adviser Karl Rove ''sitting in his air conditioned office with his big, fat backside, saying, 'Stay the course!'''
Of course, Murtha, who's been a lightning rod and Democratic front man for House Democrats on Iraq, now wants to be rewarded for his "heroic" duty. He wants to be the House Majority Leader if the Democrats take the House in November.

Heh ... can you imagine? Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Murtha? Any question as to what the House would try to do as pertains to Iraq?

Even Democrats know the "Okinawa strategy" was a dumb thing to put forward. But none will speak out. That being the case, how in the world can they ever speak out against the Majority Leader candidacy of Murtha should Democrats succeed in taking the House?

Isn't politics fun?

Oh by the way, a little reminder. If Murtha's past military record is considered appropriate for use today, so is the rest of his political past. And I can promise you, the one thing you won't see John Murtha wearing like a "suit of armor" is this:
In 1980, the FBI named him as one of eight members of Congress videotaped being offered bribes by a phony Arab sheik.

The other seven targets took cash and were convicted in federal court. The videotape showed Murtha declining to take cash but expressing interest in further negotiations, while bragging about his political influence. Murtha testified against the popular Rep. Frank Thompson, which created lifelong enemies in the Democratic cloakroom. The House Ethics Committee exonerated Murtha of misconduct charges by a largely party-line vote, after which the committee's special counsel resigned in protest.
 
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In 1980, the FBI named him as one of eight members of Congress videotaped being offered bribes by a phony Arab sheik.

Ah, back in the day you could bribe a congressman while on camera. Now you can just look in his freezer to see how much money is stuffed in cans.
 
Written By: Tom
URL: http://
It’s a problem the Democrats ahve and keep having and I’m channelling Rush Limbaugh on this as a footneote on sources. They keep upping the ante. IF something is working or the Administration’s poll numbers are down they just keep piling on and piling on, UNTIl they reach an absurd level and/or the Administration releases a bit of information that makes them look foolish.

They don’t keep themselves in bounds. If they did, they’d be doing a LOT better. As it is they’ve moved from Murtha sounding "sane and concerned" to "Redeploy to Okinawa". The first set of concerns Murtha raised were wrong, IMO, but he wasn’t silly sounding either. NOW, Mutha’s out in left field. The House Minority leadership needs to set some limits, either on how far a member can go OR at least state, "Beyond this point Bud, you’re on you’re own."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
They certainly can’t now criticize him when he says foolish things, such as his Okinawa strategy. As Novak points out the evolving Murtha argument, when no substance is available, is to resort to the tired and discredited "chickenhawk" argument and variations on that theme. And Novak is right, he wears it like a suit of armor:

Murtha disqualifies adversaries who have not tasted combat, which includes the vast majority in the Congress.
That’s completely unfair.
Murtha puts forward a policy, and irrelevant as to whether one thinks that policy is foolish (Okinawa!?), it doesn’t seem to me that Murtha “disqualifies adversaries who have not tasted combat”. The fabled “chickenhawk” argument.

It’s perfectly reasonable to suggest that Murtha, with his “have you ever put on combat boots” retaliations, is in response to numerous Republican pols and pundits essentially calling him a coward.
Karl Rove on Murtha,
Like too many Democrats it strikes me they are ready to give the green light to go to war, but when it gets tough, they fall back of that party’s old platform of cutting and running. They may be with you for the first few bullets but they won’t be there for the last tough battles.
Rep. Gohmert on Murtha,
But thank god he was not here and prevailed after the bloodbaths at Normandy and in the Pacific or we would be here speaking Japanese or German.
One can hardly blame Murtha, a decorated Marine as everyone now knows, for getting his feathers ruffled at being called a coward.

Now you can pour over the transcripts and you will not see the word “coward”, but anyone can see that cowardice is the theme.

Now, can anyone pour over the transcripts and point to me where Murtha “disqualifies adversaries who have not tasted combat” for making policy?

Be fair about it. That’s all I ask.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
The Dems have been doing this relentlessly....using vets to innoculate themselves from debate. Kerry....Cleeland....Murtha (and Casey Sheehan by moonbat proxy)

It doesn’t work, but god love ’em, they keep trying.

GOP will hold congress.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Now, can anyone pour over the transcripts and point to me where Murtha “disqualifies adversaries who have not tasted combat” for making policy
Murtha pounced on Gohmert, asking whether he had been a combat soldier.
Now you can pour over the transcripts and you will not see the word “chickenhawk”, but anyone can see that chickenhawk is the theme
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
So pogue,

you can’t make the legitimate point about someone being in favor of cutting and running witout it meaning you think he is a coward? Sorry. I don’t think Murtha is a coward, but he is in favor of cutting and running. They are criticizing their political approach to war, not the man’s physical courage.

Likewise it is perfectly reasonable to be offended by his "combat boots" argument. He isn’t saying something about his opponents political approach, he is claiming some special right to pontificate based on military service.

I can’t stand Rove, but a persons politics are fair game in, well, politics. Gohmer’s ccomments, well they may be unfair for other reasons, but they in no way imply the man was a coward. Trying to put off opponents arguments by virtue of the chickenhawk slur (which this is Pogue) should be condemned. Hey, I am with you in finding things to criticize Rove for however, have you noticed he has a problem with gays?
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
Oh..Please...The executive-branch is being run by Chicken-hawks...Namely, a guy that went AWOL and another "who had better things to do".

There is no glory in beating up a small country (Iraq), but witness Bush’s actions after our plane went down in China...Contrast that with Clinton who bombed the Chinese Embassy in the former Yugoslavia...It will be a cold day in hell if ol’ Georgie/Cheney did something even remotely that brave(Politically)
 
Written By: Ivan
URL: http://
Oh..Please...The executive-branch is being run by Chicken-hawks...Namely, a guy that went AWOL and another "who had better things to do".
Wow, Mary Mapes is on QandO... who knew. AWOL, indeed, well I’m sure you’ve got the memo’s to back that up.
There is no glory in beating up a small country (Iraq), but witness Bush’s actions after our plane went down in China...Contrast that with Clinton who bombed the Chinese Embassy in the former Yugoslavia...It will be a cold day in hell if ol’ Georgie/Cheney did something even remotely that brave(Politically)
This SURPASSETH understaning...
There is no glory in beating up a small country ...
Contrast that with Clinton who bombed the Chinese Embassy in the former Yugoslavia
But there WAS glory in beating up on Yugoslavia? A small country, IIRC.
Contrast that with Clinton who bombed the Chinese Embassy in the former Yugoslavia...
And so you’re saying that the US and/or Bill Clinton INTENDED to attack the PRC’s Embassy in Belgrade? This was a demonstration of US will and determination, or something to be proud of?
It will be a cold day in hell if ol’ Georgie/Cheney did something even remotely that brave(Politically)
Certainly I agree I remember, with shame, that when the Iraqi’s dragged the bodies of US troops thru Mogadishu how Dubya withdrew the troops...OH WAIT...

Ivan, you have got to do better than this. The whole quote was laughable. It wasn’t even INTERNALLY coherent, logic-wise. If your "theory" doesn’t even "gel" internally why would anyone ever accept it’s larger conclusions?

 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
you can’t make the legitimate point about someone being in favor of cutting and running witout it meaning you think he is a coward? Sorry.
Umm. Where did you get that?
Nowhere did I state, or infer, that one “can’t make the legitimate point about someone being in favor of cutting and running without it meaning you think he is a coward”. I’m well aware, as being a frequent reader of this blog, that legitimate criticism exists without reverting to slander.

My point, which flew right past you, is that Murtha seemed to be responding to personal attacks…
But thank god he (Murtha) was not here and prevailed after the bloodbaths at Normandy and in the Pacific or we would be here speaking Japanese or German.
They (Murtha et al) may be with you for the first few bullets but they won’t be there for the last tough battles.
Those accusations are obviously personal. Republican pols and pundits may have, at times, carefully addressed their disapproval of Murtha’s proposed policy, but it seems clear to me and many others that those particular comments – as well as many others – are attempts to defame Murtha’s character.

For someone to “thank god you weren’t here in WWII” doesn’t seem to correspond with legitimate debate worthy of a Member of Congress.

Nor is it helpful.

But hey, it’s not as though this political grandstanding is made to convince anyone, right?
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
For someone to “thank god you weren’t here in WWII” doesn’t seem to correspond with legitimate debate worthy of a Member of Congress.

Nor is it helpful.

But hey, it’s not as though this political grandstanding is made to convince anyone, right?
Why not Pogue...thank God Murtha WASN’T around in WWII! And that isn’t attacking Murtha’s courage, it’s attacking HIS JUDGEMENT and unless I’m wrong being a wounded veteran doesn’t make your judgement infallible.

I agree, Murtha and you are trying to make any criticism of John Murtha some kind of attack on him and that we can’t "attack" John because he’s a combat veteran...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
My point, which flew right past you, is that Murtha seemed to be responding to personal attacks…

But thank god he (Murtha) was not here and prevailed after the bloodbaths at Normandy and in the Pacific or we would be here speaking Japanese or German.

They (Murtha et al) may be with you for the first few bullets but they won’t be there for the last tough battles.
Those accusations are obviously personal.
Pogue, he wasn’t responding to anyone but Rep. Gohmert. And Gohmert was making exactly the same point — based on Murtha’s statements, when the going gets tough, he wants to pull out. How else does one say this without upsetting this Marine’s oh-so-tender sensibilities?

Moreover, what difference does it make whether the commenter served in combat or not? The point stands on its own no matter who makes it. The logic of the "chickenhawk" theme is simply ludicrous ... and it’s sexist as well since woman don’t serve in combat.

Could a woman make the point that cutting and running is not such a wise policy without getting a dose of Murtha’s rapier-like wit?
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
But thank god he (Murtha) was not here and prevailed after the bloodbaths at Normandy and in the Pacific or we would be here speaking Japanese or German.
Pogue

You do understand that this is directed towards Murtha THE POLITICAN regarding his POLITICAL VIEWS, and not Murtha’s past as a soldier, correct? In no way does this call him a coward.

What am I saying, of course you do but pretending you don’t gives you a chance to do some grandstanding of your own...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Pogue,

The comments are personal, so what? That was my point. They are personal attacks on his political judgement, not his courage. I wasn’t saying they were not personal, just that they didn’t question his courage or imply he is a coward. I’ll give you an example. Murtha could have replied to Gohmert that he was glad Gohmert hadn’t been around during Vietnam mindlessly supporting a war that we couldn’t win. Just as in Murtha’s case we don’t know how Gohmert might have acted during Vietnam, and it is a personal attack. It is also fair game. I would dismiss any claim by a Gohmert defender in that case that Murtha was really saying Gohmert was actually a nutjob suicidal yankee jihadist who would have wanted to attack the Vietnamese himself with a rucksack and cow dung. Murtha’s comment in that instance would have nothing to do with Gohmert’s personal willingness to do something, but about his political judgement and behavior. See, same thing. Nobody called Murtha a coward, and just because you suspect that Gohmert feels that he is in no way means you get to attach it to the statement. The Chickenhawk complaint is explicit, no reading into it at all. Murtha is guilty.

Now, if you want to complain about the nature of their criticisms of Murtha’s political judgement as opposed to phantom attacks on his courage we are all waiting to entertain them. Of course, that would not apply to the original post because Murtha is guilty as charged.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
And ANOTHER thing... Notice how Pogue wants to focus on ONE instance. The point of the posting, was that Murtha HAS BECOME a liability. As I originally said was that he HAS progressed.

NOW Murtha wants reployment to Okinawa, and NOW Murtha says that a "change in direction" is called for, just as it was called for in Lebanon and Somalia. In short, he calls for a "cut and run". He has progressed from a "concerned" combat veteran to someone advocating running away, in the face of casualties. Had he remeained a "concerned" combat veteran he’d ahve done better for himself and his Party.

And Lance makes a good point about the validity of the attack on Murtha, "When the going gets tough, the tough go to Okinawa" and also in a possible retort to the gibe... which Murtha and others haven’t taken, they simply want to call it a "perosnal attack" on Murtha.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Given he volunteered for Vietnam, he’s probably not a coward.
But that doesn’t make him Napoleon either.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Looker, HOW DARE YOU compare John Murtha to a short, authoritarian, French Imperialist!? John Mutha served in Vietnam, did you? And if you didn’t then SHUT UP and if you did and you don’t agree with John Murtha, Shut Up! Only those who served in Vietnam and agree with John Murtha may speak, except for Nancy Pelosi...and Jane Fonda, but she DID serve in Vietnam, so it’s OK.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Oh and Looker, almost EVERYONE volunteered for Vietnam... A point not noted often was that by volunteering for combat service in Vietnam, you could reduce yur TOTAL time in-service... and considering the tooth-to-tail ration of 10/11:1 it was a good bet to take. Out a year early for only the chance of danger and some discomfort.

I don’t mean this an attack on Murtha’s service per se, just to point out that "volunteering" for Vietnam was sine qua non for MOST in Vietnam.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Given he volunteered for Vietnam, he’s probably not a coward.
But that doesn’t make him Napoleon either.
There are plenty of guys with physical courage who lack the courage to be decisive and effective military leaders. Books on military history are filled with such examples. Murtha is likely one of those.

A good example of cutting and running was Clinton’s response to the "Blackhawk Down" incident, and I understand Murtha advised cutting and running to Clinton, and he’s proud Clinton took his advice. The guys on the ground didn’t want to cut and run, their instinct was to want payback, and their insticnt was right: Bin Laden’s (and no doubt many others) take away was that we lacked the will to stay with it and take casualties. Hurt us and we run.

I’m inclined to view Clinton’s 50,000 ft bombing in Kosovo as sending the same message: we are too afraid of geting hurt to be effective.

Whatever else you think of our current President, he doesn’t have the "me first" attitude of Clinton. He has the courage to lead. And anyone who flew F-102s has pretty good physical courage as well.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I’m not terribly capable of divining Murtha’s psychological state like I’d guess, though, that he thinks we should leave because he thinks that’s the optimal path foward, not because of his psychological characteristics.

"Courage" is neither here nor there. This isn’t about how brave the leadership is, but whether they are right or wrong. A brave leader can advocate withdrawal and a coward can advocate attack. The psychology is irrelevent.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.qando.net/
I’m not terribly capable of divining Murtha’s psychological state like I’d guess, though, that he thinks we should leave because he thinks that’s the optimal path foward
For him and his party, or for the country? Given his actions I’m not so sure the answer is obvious
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
," almost EVERYONE volunteered for Vietnam"

LOL
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Jon,
I agree, he thinks it’s the optimal path. I’m even going to go so far as to think he thinks it’s really what’s best for the country.

That doesn’t make him right of course, but that’s the point isn’t it. That’s what this is about - selling him as a guy who’s ’right’ about how to handle Iraq and our involvement.

Like Dallas Mavericks T-shirts, they can probably still sell him after his Okinawa comment, but they’re gonna have to discount the price.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I’m not terribly capable of divining Murtha’s psychological state like I’d guess, though, that he thinks we should leave because he thinks that’s the optimal path foward, not because of his psychological characteristics.
Murtha seems to have a habit of suggesting retreat. It may very well be what he thinks is the "optimal path forward", but then that’s what a typical timid leader would think.
"Courage" is neither here nor there. This isn’t about how brave the leadership is, but whether they are right or wrong. A brave leader can advocate withdrawal and a coward can advocate attack. The psychology is irrelevent.
There are lots of cases where men who were very brave in battle became indecisive and unwilling to take risks as leaders. In history, they tend to make up much of the roll call of military leaders who lost.

That said, it is true that a brave leader can advocate withdrawal. Under some circumstances, that can take considerable courage as well—a withdrawl when a powerful enemy is near is very dangerous. And I suppose it’s true that a coward can advocate attack, although I’m having trouble thinking of any examples. I guess what I’m trying to say is that your last sentence is hammering a strawman.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
," almost EVERYONE volunteered for Vietnam"

LOL

Written By: timactual
The poison put out by the Left and people like John Kerry suggests the average person in combat in Vietnam was a poor black kid drafted against his will and who if lucky enough to survive, was condemned by PTSD to a lifetime of violence, drug abuse, "flashback nightmares" of the atrocities he was ordered to commit for Big Oil.

The truth is 60% of those that saw duty in the Vietnam combat theater were volunteers. Those that saw actual combat were 80% volunteer. Whites made up slightly higher numbers than their actual population percentiles 35 years ago. Blacks were more likely to end up in non-combat support positions in Vietnam, or given duty outside Vietnam, than a drafted white enlisted. After Vietnam, Vets have better jobs, better income, better health, less crime and mental health and substance abuse issues than their non-Vet peers. 2/3rds of them are happy they served, and blame the wars loss not on "the impossibility" of winning, but being undercut by a Left and a Congress that put unreasonable restraints on them winning - then stabbed the S Vietnamese in the back by ending military aid in 1975 while the Soviets and Chinese were still pumping 10s of billion annually to their NVA proxies.

Those stats come from the American Legion, Vietnam Vets of America, and the 82nd Airborne.

That so many in the public believe otherwise is testimony to the power of the John Kerry types and the power of the Leftist Jewish-led media in framing American soldiers as poor, hapless minority draftee, demoralized atrocity-committers —who then spend the rest of their lives as homeless, violent drug-abusers for not fleeing to Canada.

The book "Stolen Valor" documents the sliming of the Vietnam Vets and serves as reason to be vigilent that the same usual suspects now trying to cast the Iraq conflict as Abu Ghraib writ large do not succeed again.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
The truth is 60% of those that saw duty in the Vietnam combat theater were volunteers. Those that saw actual combat were 80% volunteer. Whites made up slightly higher numbers than their actual population percentiles 35 years ago. Blacks were more likely to end up in non-combat support positions in Vietnam, or given duty outside Vietnam, than a drafted white enlisted.
Blacks are overrepresented in the service today, but not at the "tip of the spear". Once again, blacks are more often in support positions, and the farther "forward" you get the more white the troops are. Most likely, blacks join the military for a job or to get training, while whites are more likely to join to serve or to fight. To some extent or another, this is also true with respect to other minority groups.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
"The truth is 60% of those that saw duty in the Vietnam combat theater were volunteers. Those that saw actual combat were 80% volunteer."


Could you be a little more specific as to the source for those numbers? They certainly do not agree with my experience or reading. As for the 82nd AB source, I would certainly expect that an all volunteer unit would be composed of volunteers. But did they volunteer for VN, or just for airborne training?

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
C. Ford

I have checked the American Legion and VVoA websites and could not find your statistics. Please be more specific. I did, however, check a few other sites, and all of the references to volunteers being a majority of forces in VN seem to refer back to "McCaffrey", "McCaffrey Papers", or to a speech given by William Westmoreland. Not what I would call definitive sources. Perhaps you could start by defining what "volunteer" means.

Joe

I still find your remark ludicrous. Do you have any sources you would care to share?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Just as I thought.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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