November 19, 2005

Did GOP Blow Murtha Vote?

Hatched by Dafydd

Over on Power Line, John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson each separately come to the conclusion that the Republicans screwed up by voting, not on the exact wording of the Murtha proposal, but on a nearly identical simplification of it: Much Ado About Nothing, I'm Afraid and Friends, Romans, Clowns, respectively:

John: The House leadership had a golden opportunity to make the Democrats put up or shut up tonight, and I'm afraid they blew it. Rep. John Murtha offered a resolution demanding surrender in Iraq within six months (at least, that's how the New York Times describes it; I haven't seen the actual text, and news reports have varied.) If the House leadership had precipitated a vote on what Murtha actually proposed, we could have had a useful moment of clarity. Instead, however, they scheduled a vote on a resolution calling for immediate withdrawal, which was how Murtha's resolution was widely reported, but, apparently, not quite what it said. That gave the Democrats an easy out; they opposed it, and it failed overwhelmingly (403-3 is the last tally I've seen.)

Scott: Why didn't the Republicans just use Murtha's language? If all but three Democrats wanted to claim that "is hereby terminated" means something other than immediate withdrawal, fine. I think what would have emerged is that the only distinction is that logistics will require that the withdrawal take a certain amount of time, and will not, in that sense, be "immediate." The Democrats would have had to say what they really think about Iraq, or at least pretend to. Instead, they were given an easy out. Since the Republican resolution wasn't the same as Murtha's, they could credibly denounce it as a "sham" and their orchestrated votes against it mean nothing at all.

I disagree, and I believe John and Scott, so caught up in the politics of the vote (as was I until this bleary-eyed moment of clarity this afternoon) have lost sight of the purpose of the vote.

I now believe the purpose was not to humiliate the Democrats, though it certainly succeeded serendipitously at that: look not at the actual vote but rather at the hysterical denunciations of the war, the Republicans, the president, and indeed everyone who didn't believe we should cut and run. Assuming Ken Mehlman was bright enough to have the VCRs rolling, there is fodder here for TV commercials all across America in 2006. Dennis Kucinich's rant, which ended with him shrieking in unintelligible falsetto, like an out-of-control teenage girl in a raging hormone attack, will all by itself be worth at least 7% to Ken Blackwell next year!

For John's and Scott's positions to make sense, they would have to have been hoping that many more Democrats would have voted for the version that Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) actually proposed:

Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date.

Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region.

Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy.

Rather than an attempt to seize political advantage by portraying the Democrats as feckless and irresponsible (which indeed was my original proposal), I believe the Republicans' purpose was to mitigate the damage to troop morale and the psychological boost to the morale of al-Qaeda in Iraq by instantly showing that the United States was not about to withdraw precipitously from that country -- which is how al Jazeera and all the major news sources here had (accurately) reported Rep. Murtha's original proposal.

If this is correct, then what the Republicans did was rise above the instant gratification of watching the Democrats damage their chances in 2006 -- and damage the nation's credibility in the process -- and put the troops' and the country's interests ahead of the GOP's own political interests: the troops were likely shocked and stunned by Murtha's original proposal and may have been terrified they were going to be "Vietnamed" by Congress. Rather than rack up a tidy 50 or 100 Democratic votes for just this policy, thus rattling the troops even further (and giving the terrorists the idea that if only they help the Democrats win in 2006, everything their hearts desire will come to them), the Republicans instead went for an overwhelming rejection of the underlying idea -- demonstrating not only to the terrorists but also our allies and our own military that Congress has absolutely no intention of cutting our soldiers' shanks from under them.

Perhaps it is we pundits who should be embarassed at allowing our desire to see the the Democrats damaged blind us to the very real damage that would concomitantly be done to the war effort itself. I think the Republicans did just fine.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 19, 2005, at the time of 2:06 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Tommy V


You are right on target about this. I am glad the vote was so overwhelming and we can put talk about a "cut and run" strategy away for at least a little bit.

403-3 says a lot, even if it is a ridiculous resolution.

The above hissed in response by: Tommy V [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 19, 2005 2:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: RBMN

I think it makes no practical difference. If the military started leaving Iraq today, it would probably take almost six months to get everybody and everything out safely. Evacuations have to be carefully planned. Some equipment can be packed up right away, others in stages. But some things (mobile hospitals and rescue equipment for example) need to stay till the last minute they might be needed. And not everybody can leave every place at the same time, because retreating convoys are protected both physically and by being a bit unpredictable in their movements and timing. The fastest possible withdrawal is not necessarily the safest withdrawal.

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 19, 2005 5:24 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Thanks for explaining that Dafydd. I have to admit Mr. Hinderaker had me a little concerned after I read his first post last night. I've added a link to your post to "Hawkish" Dem: Time To Cut And Run -- Part 3.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 19, 2005 6:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: antimedia

Dayfdd, when I read this - "[the troops] may have been terrified they were going to be "Vietnamed" by Congress." - I have to tell you, as a Vietnam era vet, that's exactly how I interpreted it. I was so angry yesterday that I could hardly contain myself. I felt betrayed by Congress just as we were betrayed in the 1970's, and I reacted angrily and bitterly. (You can read the posts on my blog.)

So, I think you are absolutely right that the troops would have seen it that way, and the 3-403 vote puts that to rest. That's a great insight, and I'm glad you shared it.

The above hissed in response by: antimedia [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 19, 2005 6:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terry Gain

I respectfully disagree. Murtha voted for the war (or as all who are propagandally aware refer to it- the Liberation) and then as early as March 2004- before the handover and before any of the three votes which would follow in the next 20 months urged withdrawal.

The appropriate response was to express sadness at Murtha's loss of connection with reality.

The only way to drive the point home that his proposal is utter madness was to put his proprosal to a vote.

Instead, by not putting Murtha's exact proposal to a vote the Republican's have allowed MSM to spin his proposal as that of a hawk, who is now so concerned with recent negative developments in Iraq, that withdrawal is not merely a sensible option but in the interests of America -and Iraq.

The above hissed in response by: Terry Gain [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 19, 2005 7:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: Davod

The main point is that the actual wording of his resolution is irrelevant to the way it was portrayed.

Murtha gave the terrorist propogandists, MSM and Arab press a 'leave now' talking point. He even said the same thing on TV.

I think he knew exactly what he was doing. He of the Vietnam era should know better.

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 20, 2005 1:03 AM

The following hissed in response by: Davod


You forget that the untold story of Vietnam is that the real people screwed by the Dems were the
South Vietnamese. After the main US withdrawal, the agreement was to supply logistics and air support. The Dems cut off all funding at a time when the Soviets increased their support of the North four fold. The South beat back one attack but were unable to beat off the final attack.

Vietnam old news!

The Dems did the same thing in Lebanon after the marine barracks bombing - cut off funding for the operation. That's the main reason for the withdrawal.

Legislated to ensure no support of anti-communist forces in South America.

Pulled out of Somalia after the failed operation to get Aideed.

The above hissed in response by: Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 20, 2005 1:12 AM

The following hissed in response by: The Yell

I think the House GOP played it a lot smarter than the Senate GOP. The Senate did get bogged down in "language" with the result that Frist is STILL insisting the Wagner Amendment is a real vote of support rather than the first crack in the dam.

By deliberately ignoring all arguments about language, the House demonstrates it is just not going to vote to lose this war by default.

The Dems were not after the implementation of a plan, just an incremental acceptance of total immediate withdrawal. By prematurely positing the proposition for a formal vote the GOP blew off a good deal of the Dem's defeatist momentum. That is why they are screaming foul instead of demanding a full vote on the Murtha plan anyhow; they don't care to commit to its terms.

The above hissed in response by: The Yell [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 20, 2005 9:37 AM

The following hissed in response by: yblitz

The vote serves two purposes, putting out the message that we are not leaving Iraq ahead of time and to at least try shaming the Democrats into supporting the war for a change.

There a number of versions of "immediate" used by Dems and media Thursday and Friday.Most domestic and foreign media ran with the story early and used "immediate" without modifiers in flashing the dramatic news around the world. That supports the urgency in correcting the notion that we are going to cut out, right before Iraqi elections yet. The Democrats and MSM gradually changed reporting of "immediate"over the next day, adding swift than finally smooth in 6 months. Liz Sidoti of NYT wrote at least 2 versions, 1st one, a gleefull "immediate withdrawal" and the last one blaming the Republicans for everything. I posted the text used by several mainline newspapers using only "immediate" in their headlines. These included BBC and Al Jazerra.

The above hissed in response by: yblitz [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 20, 2005 5:48 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist


Good mulling. Murtha is a political bum as far as i am concerned, and has resorted to lying in order to continue receiving MSM coverage...from Murtha Says Americans Back Iraq Pullout:

"The public turned against this war before I said it," Murtha said. "The public is emotionally tied into finding a solution to this thing, and that's what I hope this administration is going to find out."

This after he voted against the Republican's call on a vote for a pullout. Murtha's own words were not that different from the Republican's call, so why would he vote against a pullout if "Americans" and/or the "public" supports getting out of Iraq as soon as possible...because, he knows the polls are tainted, just like he is!!!!!!!

i don't care why the Republicans called for the vote, because Murtha and his fellow Dems were clearly attempting to aid the enemy, especially when they all knew that another Iraqi vote was coming up in December, and that there are already plans for reducing Troop levels after that!!!

i do know that Murtha and his fellow Dems and the MSM are trying their best to destroy President Bush, even when such means siding (or secretly helping) with the enemy. Their beloved Bill Clinton ignored terrorism, because he was afraid of facing an enemy, and the American People know it. The American People also know that the Democrat Party is "Weak on Defense", and the whole Left is trying to stop W and America's Troops from looking good before the 2006 elections roll around.

Another successful Iraq election in December will make the Dems look like the girlie-men they are...simple as that.


The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 21, 2005 3:23 PM

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