Friends, Romans, clowns

Continuing the Shakespearean theme from John’s “much ado” post below, my heading reflects the clownish words and behavior of the Democrats on the floor of the House: “Pullout rejected 403-3.”

Is there a difference between immediate withdrawal from Iraq and withdrawal “in a safe and orderly manner”? That’s the distinction between the resolution put to a vote by the Republicans and the resolution supported by Rep. Murtha, according to the Times. Most folks would see the distinction between the two as a distinciton without a difference, but it’s the kind of distinction the House Democrats purport to find deeply meaningful.

John Kerry must be one of the lamest men ever to hold office in the United States Senate. He wins the palms for self-aggrandizing falsehood in the form of defense of Murtha’s honor. “I won’t stand for the swift-boating of Jack Murtha,” Kerry said. The Democrats won’t stand for taking Murtha’s words seriously, which I take to be the real meaning of “swift-boating.”

Murtha himself declared, “All of Iraq must know Iraq is free — free from United States occupation.” I propose that Murtha go to the White House and throw John Kerry’s medals over a fence at the Capitol in protest of the American “occupation” of Iraq, and that John Kerry then step forward to defend him from those of us who stand at the ready to “swift-boat” Murtha. Let’s party like it’s 1971.

UPDATE: Gary Comer writes:

Congressman Murtha did indeed call for immediate withdrawal of US troops…his own words from a press conference a few days ago: “The United States will immediately redeploy — immediately redeploy. No schedule which can be changed, nothing that’s controlled by the Iraqis, this is an immediate redeployment of our American forces because they have become the target.” And: “My plan calls for immediate redeployment of U.S. troops (consistent with the safety of U.S. forces).” Reference: here.

And from Congressman’s Murtha own website: “I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy.” Reference: here.

Also, the media sure played up Murtha’s original remarks as calling for an “immediate” withdrawal. Consider this CNN headline: “Representative John Murtha Calls for Immediate Troop Withdrawal.” Reference: here. Read the whole article…CNN certainly reported Murtha’s comments as a call for “immediate withdrawal.”

See also John Rosenberg’s “‘The Swift-Boating of Jack Murtha’?” at Discriminations. John comments in a message to us: “It seems to me, as shown [in my post] (I think), that the NY Times shifted its description of the Murtha affair during the day on Friday in a way that re-enforced the emerging Democratic response. And Kerry’s response is priceless…”

Polipundit addresses the Kos Kidz: “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah. Your leaders are true cowards. Not only do they want to cut and run from Iraq; they’re too cowardly to say so on the record. Even Senate Republicans have more spine than that.” Along the same lines, Tom Bevan salutes the three Democrats whose votes lined up with their convictions.

JOHN adds: Obviously, the Democrats are trying to have their cake and eat it too. Their base understands that what they really want is immediate withdrawal (i.e., surrender), and that’s how it was reported in the press (including Al Jazeera). At the same time, they want the fig leaf that enables them to pretend that what they advocate is somehow less stark than abject surrender; hence their votes last night. Is that cowardly and dishonest? Of course, but what did you expect? The point is, they’ve gotten away with it. The proof that they’ve gotten away with it is that Murtha himself voted against the resolution as drafted by the Republican leadership, and not a single newspaper in the United States will criticize him for that vote.

For some reason, it’s not easy to find the text of Murtha’s actual resolution. I found a link to it on the Democrats’ Congressional Campaign Committee blog; where did they link to? The Daily Kos. Murtha’s resolution begins with a long series of “whereas” clauses which recite how badly the war is ostensibly going; here are the operative provisions:

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.

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.

So changing the resolution was a bad political blunder by the leadership. Since the resolution was only a “sham,” in the view of nearly half the House, it also deprived the troops of the meaningful show of support they deserve.

JOHN’S UPDATE: Here, for example, is how the Washington Post approvingly describes the Democrats’ conduct last night. Note that this is their news story, not an editorial:

Recognizing a political trap, most Democrats — including Murtha — said from the start they would vote no.

Is it ridiculous to call a vote on whether to withdraw from Iraq a “political trap”? Of course. But if the Republicans had simply used Murtha’s own language, they wouldn’t have given the Dems–and their supporters in the press–this easy way out.

JOHN adds ONE MORE THING: As we’ve often said, Hugh Hewitt is the best-informed optimist we know; so, for a different view of last night’s proceedings, we’ll yield the floor to him:

Many Democrats were emotionally undone by the exercise of having to confront their own rhetoric, and the anti-war left must be stunned this morning: Only three votes? All that work? All those marches? All those posts at the fever swamp bulletin board? For three votes?

The Dems have more excuses than a teenager: It wasn’t the real Murtha resolution; it’s a terrible political trick; I will not participate in the assault on Congressman Murtha etc, etc, etc.

But the talk around the turkey this week should review that the elections in 2002, 2004 and the vote on Friday night in the House underscore the county is committed to victory in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and everywhere else the GWOT is being waged. That talk should also dwell on the profound hypocrisy of the left and its Congressional representatives, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” They only believe what they believe when the country as a whole isn’t watching. Supermen on the web, when Congress assembled they went into their phonebooths/cloakrooms and came out as Clark Kent.

I don’t think that’s how the vote will play in most quarters, but, as usual, I hope Hugh is right.

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