In light of House Democrats’ choice of Rep. Steny Hoyer over Rep. John Murtha for House majority leader, Robert Scheer’s Tuesday column (in today’s Viewpoints section) is worth another look. Murtha is far from perfect â€“ in fact, he’s been a reliable friend to the military-industrial complex over the years â€“ but as Scheer notes:
Because of his credentials as a highly decorated Marine veteran and stalwart Pentagon supporter, U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) was more effective than any other member of Congress in crystallizing the changing American position on Iraq when he dramatically wrote last year, â€œIt is time to bring them home.â€ Not intimidated by the presidentâ€™s â€œcut-and-runâ€ smears, he said what most Americans have come to believe: The war is not â€œwinnableâ€ and it is timeâ€”now, not in 10 yearsâ€”to let Iraqis make their own history and to get American troops out of the line of fire.
By contrast, his opponent for the House leadership position, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), disagrees with 60 percent of the voters in continuing to support President Bush in this ever-deepening disaster. As recently as Monday, Hoyer continued to hold an allegedly moderate position that is as divorced from reality as the disgraced former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: â€œYou can transfer authority to the Iraqis … but we need to do so in a way, hopefully, that will not create greater carnage,â€ he told MSNBC-TV.
What gibberish. In fact, as realists from all sides of the political spectrum, including the presidentâ€™s father, argued before the war started, taking Baghdad was inevitably going to stoke the always smoldering nationalist and religious fires of the Middle East that now engulf Iraq with apocalyptic fury. The toll on Tuesday alone: Scores of scholars were kidnapped from the Education Ministry in a plot reportedly aided by policemen, while 82 others were killed or found dead from clashes, murders and bombings around the country.
What an insult it would be to voters to place a continued cheerleader for the war in the No. 2 spot in the House. To reject the basically conservative Murtha also would be to reject the votes of independents and Republicans who broke with Bush on the war.