So I ain’t happy with Representative Murtha. Followup comments below. Everything under the “more” tag because I want the nuclear post to stay on top until someone actually reads it.
En Revanche cautions:
Supporters of the war are playing this wrong, with all due respect. When somebody like Murthaâ€“by all measures a moderate/populist Democrat, from a blue-collar Rust Belt district, and a combat veteran with a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts who voted for the war and spent 37 years in the Marine Corps Reserveâ€“publically calls for withdrawal from Iraq, and the best that the Bush administration can come up with is shrill namecalling, weâ€™re in trouble.
(Murtha is, per the administrationâ€™s press secretary, â€œendorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party.â€ I wonâ€™t even go into what some of the more excitable bloggers are calling him. Hereâ€™s a hint, guys: Check out Murthaâ€™s voting record; he couldnâ€™t have less in common with these guys for the most part; he happens to agree with them on *one issue.* And Murtha, as the senior member and former chair of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has *considerable* credibility on the Hill on military issues, making this all the more devastating.)
Instead of being dismissive and insulting, perhaps we should explain why heâ€™s wrong. In detail. Without namecalling and handwaving. In re: support for the war, weâ€™ve always had most conservatives on our side, and weâ€™ve never had most liberals, but weâ€™re starting to lose the center, folks, and thatâ€™s all she wrote, if that happens.
Chapâ€™s notes on the withdrawal of support from South Vietnam are a good but inexact analogy, but hold the beginnings of a persuasive argument. A recent Atlantic article by Jim Fallows, â€œWhy Iraq Has No Army,â€ written by a guy who has pretty consistently *opposed* the war, actually contains more coherent arguments for *staying* than Iâ€™ve seen in most of the right-wing blogosphere.
More light, less heat.
I’ll focus my comments on my reaction since that’s what I can control. What is faulty in the “oh, he’s a Vietnam vet, therefore he’s right” argument is that nonmilitary folks think that military folks automatically assume someone with military experience is correct. No, we don’t as a general rule much care for the inverse of the “no true Scotsman” argument; service means initially some credibility, but we know there are wise and fools anywhere you look. That’s why Democrats got all excited when they acquired some candidates with veteran experience (who got no love from the vets because the vets didn’t like the guy). In Murtha’s case it results in a sense of betrayal and hypocrisy for a man who said one thing one day and another thing the next.
I don’t buy the “he’s so on your side” because of what I see right now as an act of betrayal of my comrades for points. I’m sure the rowbacks and corrections will quite precisely target that he Supports The Troops, and I’m equally sure there’s been and will continue to be off-scale whinging and namecalling by the right.
However, I stand by my visceral reaction.
Murtha’s got a bit of a different history from what you paint, too. By the way, he was one of the supporters of Dean as DNC chair. He’s not exactly been standing apart from Nancy Pelosi. As Kaus put it this morning:
The press is pretending to be surprised by Murtha’s views (“An Unlikely Lonesome Dove” … “a fierce hawk”) even though he’s been a known, publicÂ Iraq War skeptic since at least a year and a half ago. NBC News, even more ludicrously, pretended to be surprised by professional GOP apostate Sen. Chuck Hagel’s apostasy. … Update: Most egregious was the LAT’s Maura Reynolds who, in order to set up the “jolt” of Murtha’s speech, wrote
And when President Bush decided to wage war on Saddam Hussein, perhaps no Democrat was a firmer ally.
Assuming Reynolds means the current President Bush and the currentÂ warÂ (and shouldn’t she have said if she didn’t?) thisÂ is correction-worthyÂ garbage. Murtha questioned the war in 2002, before it began.
b) I’m ready to be convinced thatÂ U.S. troops are doing more harm than good in Iraq, but Murtha’s speech is not convincing.Â He doesn’t even try very hard.Â He seems primarily concernedÂ with the health of our soldiers (“[t]hey don’t deserve to continue to suffer. They’re the targets”) and the military sector as a whole, which is fine. ButÂ there are also the Iraqis to worry about, not to mention the larger cause of democracy in the region.Â Murtha concludes: “We have become a catalyst for the violence.”Â Â But increasingly we also seem to be the only thing standing in the way of wholesale violence against the Sunnis.
And Mohammed from Iraq the Model thinks he knows who benefits from Murtha’s press bash. He knows as well as the vets do.
Hermit Philosopher gets all dKos on us:
Allow me to sharpen Barryâ€™s cogent point with my left-wing blade:
Please continue to pile on Murtha. Please keep conflating him with Michael Moore. Call him a bed-wetting commie, a â€œcut-and-run-guy.â€ Please call your Senator and Congressman and demand that they do the same. Call up all the bookers of the 24hr news networks. Demand they get Murtha on the program with their biggest resident chickenhawk. By all means, please chain yourselves to the gates of Fox News until Oâ€™Reilly gets Murtha on and calls him a cut-and-run-guy who doesnâ€™t have the balls to fight the war on terror. And super-mega-double bonus fantasy â€” get Cheney to openly proclaim the same.
The sooner we get to the definitive McCarthy/Welch moment, the better.
War footing based on lies, horrific planning, nebulous goals, utter lack of candor, and now, vicious smears, is, and always was, doomed from the outset.
There was never anyone in this Administration who had the microphone and Barryâ€™s insight â€” that the potentially legitimate reasons for this war are inherently complex and nuanced, that they must be examined openly and continuously. There are plenty of us who never got the war, and thus didnâ€™t support it. The Administration operated on the belief that they didnâ€™t need us, that we could be marginalized, that they could polarize the country on a no-worse than 51-49 basis, maintain themselves in power, and thus continue to prosecute the war in any manner, and at any length they saw fit.
And their approach is now grinding to a halt. Whether the war is or was right or wrong is quickly becoming beside the point which the Administration unwittingly continues to make in a most nasty and ugly manner.
And that is, you canâ€™t prosecute this kind of a war with mere platitudes and denigrations.
Apparently you’re talking to a lot of people that aren’t me.
Mere platitudes and denigrations, eh? Unlike, say, the A.N.S.W.E.R.-led “antiwar” movement? As for going McCarthy on us I think I’d be the one saying “At long last, sir, have you no shame?”
But I’d have done that for a certain presidential candidate a few years back instead.
As for “Whether the war is or was right or wrong is quickly becoming beside the point which the Administration unwittingly continues to make in a most nasty and ugly manner”, I would think you’re talking about your own side there, buddy. It would be nice to finally get off the endless attempts at re-arguing the Rush To War(tm) since there’s nothing I’ve heard that is new by now and I’m not convinced your way and I have little interest in spending yet more time explaining my position again. That is not the subject of this post.
I stand by my previous comments. Buddy’s only half a word.
Imagine Iraqis, working for the new government, considering whether to join the police force, or debating whether or not to take up arms. What will they think when they read that the Senate is pressing for steps toward draw-down?
Are they more or less likely to side with a government whose No. 1 partner hints at leaving?
The Senate has responded to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who put their faith and trust in America and their government, by suggesting that our No. 1 priority is to bring our people home.
We have told insurgents that their violence does grind us down, that their horrific acts might be successful. But these are precisely the wrong messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.
Americans may not have been of one mind when it came to the decision to topple Saddam Hussein. But, though some disagreed, I believe that nearly all now wish us to prevail.
Because the stakes there are so high – higher even than those in Vietnam – our friends and our enemies need to hear one message: America is committed to success, and we will win this war.
John McCain clearly gets it, thus making Murthaâ€™s creds even more irrelevant (i.e. I see your war vet and raise you a POW).
What he said.
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