On Friday, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA), one of the most hawkish Democrats, put forward a resolution calling for the redeployment of troops now in Iraq 'as soon as practicable.' In an interview on MSNBC, Rep. Murtha, who has a long record of supporting the Pentagon, said that the continually changing mission and lack of a clear plan has been hurting morale. Rep. Murtha, a former marine colonel who served his country for thirty-seven years, fighting in Korea and in Vietnam while earning a bronze star and two purple hearts, certainly is qualified to know what he is talking about on the issue.
Now, it is entirely possible that many Republicans might disagree with this position. If so, this could have been an opportunity to discuss and come to a conclusion on whether to continue to allow the President to set the course in Iraq or whether Congress should intervene and require an explanation of the mission there.
However, instead of this, Republicans, led by one of the top blowhards in Congress, J.D. Hayworth, R-AZ (who used to be my Congressman until redistricting moved him back down into an exclusively Maricopa county district), chose to demogogue the issue. Instead of voting on Rep. Murtha's proposal as he stated it, they offered a substitute by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA, which called for immediate withdrawal (as in immediate, just drop everything and get on an airplane and leave right now). Now, even those who oppose the war can see why this would not be the way to leave, and any redeployment must be done in an orderly manner with Iraqi army units given time to replace American forces and assume their duties. Hence the language in Rep. Murtha's original bill.
And it should be noted (especially in the context of what the debate degenerated into), that it was courageous politically of him to come forward and publically declare that he was wrong to have so vocally supported the war at the outset. It would have been much easier for him politically to simply sit back and let others, who perhaps had been against the war early on, lead the fight. But he did not, and it takes a certain amount of character to change your position as publically as he did and admit to having made a mistake.
But the language that was put forward instead essentially was of the 'do you still beat your wife?' tenor. It was designed to gain political points only. And, any congressional Democrat who objects to the war in the future, but voted against the resolution calling for immediate withdrawal as irresponsible, will probably be brought up as having voted for keeping the troops there. There is no in between with these guys (a planned, organized and 'staged withdrawal' not having entered into their lexicon).
That is, unfortunately, how the GOP often operates. Demogogue instead of debate, and use personal attacks to avoid discussing the real issues. The lowlight of the evening came when Rep. Jean Schmidt, the newest Republican in the house, having been elected a month ago in a special election, called Rep. Murtha by name, a 'coward.' Since Rep. Schmidt, a jogger, has probably had to dodge a couple of dogs, I guess she figures that gives her the right to lecture Jack Murtha about courage and cowardice.