Friday, November 25, 2005

Murtha Voted "No": Update

The three aye votes for Rep. Murtha's resolution to immediately remove troops from Iraq were from Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Jose Serrano (D-NY), and Robert Wexler (D-FL).

Murtha voted "no" on his own resolution. Yeah, it was a symbolic resolution, but why wouldn't he vote for it?

Update: Thanks to Chris Coleman in comments, it now makes perfect sense why Murtha voted "no" on his own resolution -- it wasn't really his resolution (via DailyKos). The GOP pared it down.

Update 2: I keep (rightly) getting corrected on the facts of this situation, and may my experience serve as an example of how people who are living their lives and not obsessively combing the internet for political information get bamboozled into thinking the wrong things. The words we use are important.

Rep. Murtha did not offer an amendment to withdraw troops from Iraq immediately, and the GOP offered their own resolution, rather than "paring down" Murtha's.
While it isn't clear whether or not Murtha was an independent contractor in launching his broadside attack, or just the canary in the mine for the Democrat caucus in the House, testing the to see whether there might be support for a rapidly-phased withdrawal, it is clear that Murtha's announcement caught a number of folks by surprise, mostly the members of his own party. Not, however, the members of the majority, who quickly figured out a way to relegate Murtha's proposal to parliamentary oblivion. Murtha's resolution was quickly referred to a committee so it couldn't be promptly considered or voted on by the House.

But the republicans' simultaneously presented their own version of the Murtha resolution, considerably abbreviated from the one Murtha submitted, and notably lacking the qualifying language “at the earliest practicable date,” of Murtha's resolution, substituting instead the word “immediately.” Here's what the GOP resolution says:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

This resolution was submitted by Rep. Duncan Hunter, the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee...


Murtha's resolution reflected the reasoning that had already been expressed by military intelligence experts for prompt withdrawal, and also served to further debunk the notion that withdrawal should be conditioned on the state of preparedness of the Iraqi army, an illusory goal, according to the authoritative
piece by James Fallows in the December issue of The Atlantic Monthly


But the Republicans couldn't be bothered with such details. They wanted to put the question, down and dirty, to the House, knowing that, reworded as it was, there was no way their resolution would pass, and even more importantly, that they could avoid a debate on the war that wasn't based on phony jingo-patriotism (the American equivalent of “Islamo-fascism”), which is precisely what the “debate” that ensued on the House floor degenerated into.

In other words, the Republicans really weren't interested in debating the wisdom of a withdrawal on the terms, or for the reasons, Murtha suggested; they wanted to rub Murtha's face in the very idea of withdrawing troops at all, in essence saying to the Democrats, “so you want withdrawal, do you; well, we'll give you withdrawal,” or as Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee put it:

Since they [Democrats] have been wanting it [debate], we're going to have it. They're going to take the heat and take the debate.

The same resolution which shoved Murtha's resolution off the House agenda also placed the substitute resolution on that agenda for immediate debate, without the necessity for committee action, one of the privileges of majority rule. The Democrats, realizing they had been outflanked, vociferously protested the substitution of the Republican resolution for Murtha's. “Give us a real debate, don't bring this piece of garbage to the floor,” said Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts.

The best part
And, of course, the flashpoint of the debate came when Rep. Jean Schmidt (they don't call her “mean Jean” for nothing) made her now-infamous statement accusing Murtha of being a cut and run coward. Which, to his credit, caused my congressman, Harold Ford, Jr., according to the account in the New York Times, to “charge across the chamber's center aisle to the Republican side screaming that Ms. Schmidt's attack had been unwarranted.” Unwarranted! Not exactly “give me liberty or give me death,” but a fighting word nonetheless.

A different account of Ford's outburst appeared in the Washington Times: "Say it to Murtha," Mr. Ford supposedly shouted at Rep. Tancredo while he [Ford] was being restrained by other members. Ford also, by some accounts, supposedly menacingly jabbed a finger at Tancredo during their confrontation, coming dangerously close to kicking some Republican butt (now, that would have been worth the price of basic cable C-Span).
[emphasis added]

Via Get Rid of the DLC.

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