Jean Schmidt, victim

The Ohio Republican who smeared Jack Murtha says that she has been made a scapegoat.

Published November 23, 2005 2:03PM (EST)

So it turns out that we were all wrong about Jean Schmidt. The Ohio Republican isn't a coward. She's a victim!

"I am amazed at what a national story this has become," Schmidt said in a statement Monday after dodging the press for a couple of days. "I have been attacked very personally, continuously, since Friday evening."

Of course, one might say that Schmidt has been attacked because she attacked. On the House floor Friday night, Schmidt said she had just spoken with a constituent back in Ohio. "He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

In an interview with the Washington Post, Schmidt said: "There's no way that I remotely tried to impugn [Murtha's] character." In an interview with Cox New Service, Schmidt said that she "was not implying" that Murtha was a coward. "The media wants to make me sound like that, but in no way did I imply he was a coward."

While she complained about the harsh response to her floor smear, Schmidt said in her statement that she is "willing to suffer those attacks if in the end that policy I so strongly oppose is exposed as unsound. First and foremost I support the troops. They dodge bullets and bombs while I duck only hateful words."

As for the hateful words she directed at Murtha? If she had to do it all over again, the courageous congresswoman says, "I would have left his name out."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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