The Murtha Files
Setting The Record Straight
November 18, 2005
The Murtha Files
Yesterday Congressman John Murtha, an influential House Democrat on military
spending matters, made a speech in which he called for the beginning of an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Murtha's words were big news, at least from the
media's perspective. All three nightly newscasts led with them, as did the New York Times, Washington Post, and other newspapers.
Some Republicans and conservative-leaning bloggers, however, felt otherwise. They pointed out that Murtha has been criticizing
the administration's war effort for a long time, and many questioned why members of the media felt this latest speech was
noteworthy. Here's Glenn Reynolds: "WHY IS MURTHA'S STATEMENT ON THE WAR NEWS today when he said basically the same thing a year and a half
Reynolds was referring to Murtha's statements on May 6, 2004, in which he said, "[w]e cannot prevail in this war as it is going today." He also said: "We either have to
mobilize or we have to get out," and said the war was "unwinnable" unless changes were made. Murtha added, however, that he
was in favor of increasing the number of U.S. troops rather than pulling out, a far different position than he took yesterday.
CNN summarized his "overall point" at the time as "more troops and equipment should be sent to Iraq."
It was not the first time Murtha
had spoken out about the war. From The New York Times, Sept. 16, 2003:
The Democrat, Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Vietnam veteran, said that he had been
misled into voting for the war by incorrect information from top administration officials and that the president had also
Later that year, he accused
the Bush administration of purposly waiting until after the presidential election for a new military call up.
CBS "Evening News" anchor Bob Schieffer
why Murtha's latest salvo was newsworthy, in light of his past statements.
noted that while Murtha had been critical of the administration and its handling of the war in the past, he had never unequivically
called for withdrawal. And coming from Murtha, a well-respected hawk and veteran, that was a big deal. "I don't know how much
you know about dairy farms, but you put the bell on the lead cow, and all the other cows follow her," he said. "When John
Murtha says something on defense, people listen. He has always been a hawk, he's not a garden variety liberal, nor a Bush
"The fact that he said pull out – and said it so strongly – has got to send a message to the White
House that they're losing support in the war," Schieffer added. And the fact that Murtha's speech came in the same week as
a Senate resolution calling for more accountibility from the White House made it particularly significant, he said, since
it provided more evidence of the increasing pressure faced by the White House.
"Our job is to point it out when we
think something significant and different happens," Schieffer said. "Politicians make speeches all the time. Some matter and
some don't. It was our opinion that this one mattered."
The CBS News report also included quotes from Bush and Cheney
critical of Democrats, as well as a quote from Democrat Joe Biden criticizing the administration. After Cheney was shown saying,
"[t]he president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory or their backbone. But we are not going
to sit by and let them rewrite history," Schieffer noted Murtha's response:
"…I like guys who got five deferments and never been there…then send people to war and don't like
to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."
Why include the nasty back and forth in the report? "We're seeing
one of the nastiest battles we've seen in a long time," said Schieffer. He feels it's important that news audiences understand
Cheney is far from alone in the criticizing Murtha: House Speaker Dennis Hastert accused
him of delivering "the highest insult" to the troops, and Majority Leader Roy Blunt said Murtha's views "only embolden our
enemies." Rep. John Carter said those like Murtha want to take "the cowardly way out and say we're going to surrender." Democrat
John Kerry, meanwhile, called the attacks "lowest form of smear and fear politics," and said he "won’t stand for the
‘swift boating’ of Jack Murtha."
Posted by Brian Montopoli at 2:29 PM : November 18, 2005www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2005/11/18/publiceye/
as for the record.....Who served & who didn't
.....just for the record, it's worth noting who really served among the heavyweights in each of the major political
parties. There are some surprises here. Be sure to check out the bottom where the people who spend their time jabbering about
military service (the TV pundits) have their military credentials exposed.
- Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
- David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
- Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
- Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
- Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
- Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-'47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
- John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V Purple Hearts.
- John Edwards: did not serve.
- Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
- Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
- Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-1953.
- Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve,1968-74.
- Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
- Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
- Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
- Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
- Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
- Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
- Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
- Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
- Chuck Robb: Vietnam
- Howell Heflin: Silver Star
- George McGovern: Bomber pilot, many missions. Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
- Bill Clinton: Avoided service. with student deferments. Entered draft but received 311.
- Jimmy Carter: Annapolis grad. Seven years in the Navy.
- Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
- John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
- Tom Lantos: Said to have served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.
- Wesley Clark: U.S. Army, 1966-2000, West Point, Vietnam, Purple Heart, Silver Star. Retired 4-star general.
- John Dingell: WWII vet
- John Conyers: Army 1950-57, Korea
- Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
- Tom Delay: did not serve.
- House Whiip Roy Blunt: did not serve.
- Bill Frist: did not serve.
- Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
- George Pataki: did not serve.
- Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
- Rick Santorum: did not serve.
- Trent Lott: did not serve.
- Dick Cheney: did not serve. Had "other priorities." Several deferments, the last for wife's pregnancy.
- John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
- Jeb Bush: did not serve.
- Karl Rove: did not serve.
- Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee."
The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
- Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
- Vin Weber: did not serve.
- Richard Perle: did not serve.
- Douglas Feith: did not serve.
- Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
- Richard Shelby: did not serve.
- Jon Kyl: did not serve.
- Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
- Christopher Cox: did not serve.
- Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
- Donald Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as aviator and flight instructor.
- George W. Bush: six-year Nat'l Guard commitment (infour). Issues of desertion and unfitness.
- Ronald Reagan: made war propaganda movies.
- Gerald Ford: Navy, WWII
- Phil Gramm: did not serve.
- John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of
Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
- Bob Dole: Army officer WWII.
- Chuck Hagel: two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Vietnam.
- Duke Cunningham: nominated for Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Silver Stars, Air Medals, Purple Hearts.
- Jeff Sessions: Army Reserves, 1973-1986
- JC Watts: did not serve.
- Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
- G.H.W. Bush: Pilot in WWII. Shot down by the Japanese.
- Tom Ridge: Bronze Star for Valor in Vietnam.
- Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
- Clarence Thomas: did not serve
Pundits & Preachers
- Sean Hannity: did not serve.
- Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
- Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
- Michael Savage: did not serve.
- George Will: did not serve.
- Chris Matthews: did not serve.
- Paul Gigot: did not serve.
- Bill Bennett: did not serve.
- Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
- Bill Kristol: did not serve.
- Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
- Michael Medved: did not serve.
It seems that the wrong party and people wrap themselves in the flag....