On Thursday, Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., shocked many of his colleagues with a heartfelt outburst against the war in Iraq. He even offered a resolution that, if passed, would force the president to withdraw all troops in Iraq ''at the earliest practicable date.''
Murtha may not have anticipated that the GOP would promptly seize the opportunity to offer their own resolution, one that states: "It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately." The Republican leadership scheduled a vote on the resolution for Friday evening.
Never mind that there is big difference between "immediately" and "the earliest practicable date." The Republicans are looking to embarrass Democrats by forcing them to vote on a bogus resolution, hoping thereby to gain ammunition for later political battles. As War Room was getting ready to publish this item, the House had just completed a vote on whether they could even have a vote on a resolution without it first having gone through committee. That vote passed, narrowly.
Liberal bloggers are now calling for a mass walkout, and War Room agrees. It's way past time for Democrats to show some real backbone.
Certainly, their past votes, when Democrats, fearful of a public backlash, caved in to the Bush administration's rush to war, offer an example of what doesn't work.
An echo of that time can be heard in a press release sent out today by Sen. John Kerry, titled "Don't Stand for 'Swift Boat' Style Attacks on Jack Murtha." In fairly strong language, Kerry "decries despicable attacks on Jack Murtha's patriotism and courage" and says that "it disgusts me that a bunch of guys who have never put on the uniform of their country have aimed their venom at a marine who served America heroically in Vietnam and has been serving heroically in Congress ever since."
"Whether you agree or disagree with Jack Murtha is irrelevant," says Kerry. "Express your outrage about the tired old Rovian 'Swift Boat' style attacks on Jack Murtha."
There's little question the attacks on Murtha are appalling -- late Friday afternoon, Roll Call reported that Republican lawmakers were saying that ties between Murtha and his brothers lobbying firm, KSA Consulting, may warrant investigation by the House ethics committee!
Except, Kerry still seems to be missing the point. Nowhere in his press release does he say whether he disagrees or agrees with Murtha. Instead, just as he did during his campaign, he tries to play the patriotism card, without taking a strong stand on the war itself.
Democrats looking ahead to 2006 should take note. Let the Republicans play with their silly resolution. But don't try to weasel around what's at stake. The question is not whether we should support Murtha. It's whether we support the war.