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November 18, 2005

The Tipping Point – Democrats Stand with the American People

"It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region," said Congressman John Murtha, Democrat from western Pennsylvania, yesterday in an emotional press conference.  With John Murtha’s stand yesterday on the need for the U.S. to pull out of Iraq in the next six months, the Democrats have swung pretty convincingly into the same column as the American people.  It’s been coming for the last few weeks or so but Murtha’s strong and surprising stance tipped that balance, I believe, and provides the Democrats an opportunity to come together once and for all and stand against this war.

First there were the known progressives who were always against the war calling out to end it: Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, Robert Byrd, our own Jim McDermott.  Then one by one, some powerful Democratic Senators admitted they were wrong, said they were misled, and demanded a full accounting of how the war came to be.  First up was actually the maverick Republican Vietnam Vet, Chuck Hagel back on Aug. 21st but he has never been joined by any other Republican that I'm aware of.  On the Democratic side, it started with Dick Gephardt, while visiting here in Seattle on Oct. 11th.  Others began piling on: Patrick Leahy on Oct. 25th, John Kerry on Oct. 26th, Jay Rockefeller on Nov. 6th, John Edwards on Nov. 13th.  And the big dog – Bill Clinton – weighed in on Nov. 16th.  Dianne Feinstein came close.  Wes Clark has always been against the war; he just thinks the withdrawal has to be carefully thought out. 

But all these folks are the usual suspects.  We believe them. Heck we were ahead of them, and clearly mainstream American has started believing something similar.  But the Republicans, outside of Bush and Cheney and their never-say-die supporters have to consider it seriously when it comes from someone like John Murtha.  Here’s the background on Murtha from an article in yesterday’s New York Times:

After serving in the Marines in the early 1950's, he re-enlisted in 1966, at the age of 34, and served in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry, according to The Almanac of American Politics. When he won his House seat in a special election in February 1974 he became the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress.

Murtha worked his way to his stand on pulling out our troops by talking to the guys doing the fighting.  He visited our wounded soldiers at Bethesda and Walter Reed weekly and talked to them about the mission.  Here’s what he came to as a result of those visits:

"What demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace," he said.

"Our troops have become the primary target for the insurgency," Mr. Murtha said. Insurgents, he said, "are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence." He went on to say that, before the Iraqi elections in December, the country's people and its emerging government "must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy."

"All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free," he said. "Free from United States occupation."

Predictably, the Republican leaders came after him with a vengeance.  Kerry called it the “swift-boating of Murtha” and demanded it stop.  Cheney was the worst.  But it looks like Murtha can take care of himself.  Here’s what he said in response to Cheney: "I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done," Murtha said, referring to Cheney’s refusal to go to Vietnam.

Here’s Murtha’s speech in full.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 18, 2005 at 01:52 PM in National and International Politics, Policy | Permalink


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