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November 16, 2006

Stop the Murtha-Mongers
Posted by Shadi Hamid

I find it baffling why any liberal would readily lend his or her support to John Murtha, who hopes to win the post of House Majority Leader later today. Let’s pray he doesn’t. If he did, it would provide only more evidence that the Democratics are devoid of a moral core or any recognizable set of principles or ideas. Murtha is not a liberal. He doesn’t claim to be a liberal. The only reason progressives like him is because he stuck it to Bush presumably when no one else would. That’s a pretty crappy reason to vote someone in as Majority Leader of your party. It would be one thing if Murtha’s opposition to the war was based on a distinctly progressive vision for US foreign policy. It isn't (as Bradford Plumer explains in an excellent post).

Murtha remains a perplexing mix of realist and neo-con, taking perhaps the worst of the two trends and fusing them together. I can’t think of one time where I’ve heard Murtha talk about the importance of democracy in Iraq and the Middle East. That may be because he doesn’t really care (there are, apparently, dearer things to his heart). Can someone tell me what distinguishes Brent Scrowcroft from John Murtha in this regard? Not much, except that Murtha is actually more of a hawk, but in the worst sense of the word. Every now and then, he will give us a Michael Ledeen-ish nugget like: "The big problem in the Middle East is Iran. We went to the wrong place." How reassuring.

Opposition is not vision. It’s simply criticism, and that’s all Murtha has offered the House on the issue of Iraq. He wants us to get out now. For many liberals, apparently, this is the only position that matters. Hatred of Bush and opposition to the Iraq war have become the litmus test for a good chunk of the Democratic base. These activists, in any case, have always been united more by tactics than belief. It is not clear what they believe. It is, however, clear that this war is all that matters to them, even if it means putting aside the liberal values and principles that supposedly define us - or at least the ones that once did.


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You don't want or need a Majority Leader of the House assuming a large role in foreign policy. Ever. The Majority Leader's job is to keep legislation moving through the House of Representatives, and seeing to it that those among his party who do spend time and effort on individual subjects, like foreign policy, have every opportunity to have their views reflected in the bills passed by the House. It is a very demanding job, and it wouldn't get done properly by any Majority Leader who thought his time was better spent making statements on the future of democracy in the Middle East.

Democrats will be judged in large measure by how well they conduct the business of the House, an institution that the current Republican leadership allowed to decay in several respects. They need to be aware that this will require responsibility for being party spokespeople to be directed to legislators with the time and ability to become expert in individual policy areas -- because those people will be better spokespeople, and frankly because the House Democrats' leader, Nancy Pelosi, is simply not the sharpest knife in the drawer. For that to happen, Democrats will need a Majority Leader able to run the House. Now, is that John Murtha or Steny Hoyer?

All that hoo-haw about the progressive victory on November 7th was just that, a pipedream. The facts are that there are only 62 progressives in the House (members of pdamerica), perhaps a few more with the election. Neither Pelosi, Murtha or Hoyer are among them. The hawk Murtha is the only House member who has said anything about getting out of Iraq, and unlike Hoyer he's on Pelosi's team, so he's the man.

"The hawk Murtha is the only House member who has said anything about getting out of Iraq..."

Are you kidding?

Dozens upons dozens of Members have said things about leaving Iraq. Some don't go as far as Mr. Murtha. Some go further.

Murtha's the only one who's gotten significant media attention. So Murtha's it.

What would you think of a party that lets the other-party-dominated media decide who its leaders will be?

It is, however, clear that this war is all that matters to them, even if it means putting aside the liberal values and principles that supposedly define us - or at least the ones that once did.

It's also clear that this war doesn't matter much to you at all. Not surprising, since you are among the group who generally favor stepped up US military engagement in the Middle East, even if you currently find it impolitic to say so.

Well Steny Hoyer - an AIPAC stooge - was just selected to steer the new House majority. So perhaps you'll get your wish.

You claim to be concerned about Murtha's statements on Iran. But military action against Iran is all but in the cards now. And when Israel or the US decides to launch a stkike against Iran, Steny Hoyer will be the first member of the servile horde to bend his knee in adoration of the war gods.

Grab your helmets. The Dems perhaps don't even have the votes for a non-binding exit timetable, and they won't vote to cut off funds. Murtha (and the other quiet doves that Judah correctly remembered) effectively has been muzzled. Bush will send another army division to Iraq and the insurgency and turmoil will increase. Hoyer is tied into the DLC and Clinton, who wants Iran because that's what The Lobby wants. Pelosi has been left to hang out to dry, a symbol of Dem impotence. So much for the voter mandate. And it's only November!

I agree with Don.

People may be lamenting that 26 years ago that Murtha was bribed by the FBI and Murtha didn't take the bribe but they will lament more when they realize now it's business as usual in the Congress.

I am fairly certain the DLC went around making campaign promises to Democrats in a rovian way that they couldn't refuse.

Now it's full steam ahead - stay the course in Iraq. The DLC is in charge and they love to work with Republicans and will look forward to allowing The Bush Daddy Baker team do what they want in Iraq.

The American People want us out of Iraq. Now that's not going to happen.

Right on Shadi- and the Dems listened to you!!!

When someone jumps out of the way of a truck barreling down on him, it's a bit ridiculous to say 'Getting out of the way of that truck is all that matters to you!'

I guess that Shadi still clings to the neocon dream of democratizing the Middle East through peaceful means if possible, but since we already have this Iraq War then let it run its course and perhaps something good will come of it. Well, we're now seeing what democracy looks like in the Middle East and it ain't pretty. We need a dictator! Hussein's out--we'll find another.

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