The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, November 18, 2005

The Murtha Bill, and fireworks in the House.

It was quite a day on the House floor, to say the least. I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more booing and hissing, a la British-style parliamentary meetings, but this was more... disturbing. If you're not up to date on what happened, read the article first. My post is pure armchair punditry.

The GOP switcheroo on 'The Murtha Bill" is one of those gambits that makes you wonder exactly what result they're looking for from Dems. But I'm willing to go on record at this point and say that they've decided to make it a referendum on patriotism. Why? Because they've finally brought Republican veterans to the front lines.

Jean Schmidt, the Ohio right-winger who eked out a victory over Paul Hackett earlier this year, cited a Republican Ohio veteran referring to those who believe as Murtha does as 'cowards.' (The good news is that she was openly booed for her ersatz support of the troops-- remember that she never appeared in public during her vulgar campaign without a button featuring a photo of a dead Ohio soldier.) Extremely strong stuff. Later, Texas Republican and Air Force veteran Sam Johnson called Murtha's stance "unconscionable and irresponsible."

We have been hearing a lot of criticism of GOP 'chickenhawks' who support the war but never served-- or got numerous deferments. But we've heard very little from actual Republican veterans until now. The GOP is serious about shoring up public support for the war.

At the same time, the House is the House, and not the Senate-- the GOP can afford to float the idea and see how the public reacts to their ploy. The idea, of course, is to paint all Democrats as wishy-washy opportunists by bringing the vote to the floor, knowing it wouldn't pass.

They're putting all their money on flag-waving, but I think it could hurt them. If it gets much coverage, that is. The strategy relies on the stupidity of the public, as did the Terry Schiavo debacle, and people are too smart for it. The issue is one man's opinion, and the GOP is trying to use that to slam an entire party. I figure it won't get much airtime, since it's a story that doesn't lend itself to sound bites and easy summation.

How it would play with the public is to demonstrate that Republican politicians aren't in Washington to represent their constituents, but to take marching orders from the White House-- no matter how unpopular the agenda is. And that won't help a party increasingly viewed as obstinate and arrogant.

I'm pleased that Kerry actually referred to the GOP treatment of Murtha as "swift-boating." What I regret is that there don't seem to be any Republicans willing to stand up for the "have you no sense of decency" moment. Being a GOP Congressman is just too lucrative these days.

One final note. When Jean Schmidt was accusing Murtha of cowardice by proxy (now that takes guts), she had the gall to say that "the world" wants the US to continue fighting. She obviously just arrived from Bizarroworld, where the president was greeted with 'sweets and flowers' in South America and our support abroad is at an all-time high.

She almost immediately pursued a chicken-shit tactic of withdrawing her comments from the record, saying:

"Mr. Speaker, my remarks were not directed at any member of the House and I did not intend to suggest that they applied to any member. Most especially the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania. I therefore ask for unanimous consent that my words be withdrawn."

I think my loathing for Republican willingness to hold on to power by any means available has reached a new high. Schmidt's remarks would have earned her a censure for being against House rules. Now they're just a Republican talking point that everyone can deny responsibility for having been uttered. Convenient, isn't it? Pass the ipecac.