Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Progressive members of Congress should support John Murtha

A year ago, John Murtha was marginalized by the press and became the object of the White House attack machine under Karl Rove. He gave as good as he got, stood up to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and a Congress dominated by Republicans, and let the chips fall where they might.

He was supported by Nancy Pelosi.
"We should follow the lead of Congressman John Murtha, who has put forth a plan to make America safer, to make our military stronger, and to make Iraq more stable. That is what the American people and our troops deserve."
It would be an immense symbolic step forward if, one year later, it is Murtha who emerges with power. Right now, the media is cooling its heels waiting for the Baker Commission to put forward its plan. That is staging. If the House Democrats elect Murtha as Majority Leader, they take back the stage.

This face, this ex-Marine, this patriot can be the leader that gets results soon on Iraq. The Democrats behind Murtha, with his stand-up courage and his credibility within the military, can dictate the terms of withdrawal. Democrats can take control of the timetable.

We cannot wait to see what hell evolves in Baghdad. The McGovern answer is the right answer. Can it be delivered? Murtha favors a redeployment option that is possibly the politically practical answer. The two can work together.

Progressives do not need to approve of Murtha's politics or answers across the board. But he has proven himself to be a leader and to have Pelosi's trust. These are difficult times.

We have been in similar situations before. Take Christine Gregoire She has earned progressives' support not so much because she's a progressive visionary, but she is a unwavering leader in a time when we need that kind of leadership.

Below is the press release from Nancy Pelosi, from which the quote at the top is taken.
CONTACT: Brendan Daly/Jennifer Crider

Pelosi: ‘The President Has Dug Us into a Deep Hole in Iraq; It Is Time for Him to Stop Digging’ Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held a news conference today in response to President Bush’s speech on Iraq. Her remarks are below:

"What we heard today was a commitment to the status quo – a status quo that is not working.

"The ‘Plan for Victory’ backdrop against which the President appeared at the Naval Academy today was no more accurate than the ‘Mission Accomplished’ backdrop he used over two and a half years ago on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

"The President did not have a plan for victory when he went into his war of choice in Iraq, and he did not have a plan for victory today.

"The American people expected that the President would do more today than just put a new cover and 35 pages of rhetoric on old sound bites. What the American people wanted from the President today was some evidence that he has heard their concerns.

"Clearly, the President fails to understand that a new course is needed in Iraq. The President has dug us into a deep hole in Iraq; it is time for him to stop digging.

"He offered a status quo plan that would not accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces, would not motivate Iraqis to assume security responsibilities more quickly and bring American troops home.

"Instead, he suggested that we send more troops and spend more money in Iraq. That is not what the American people want.

"The President says that the security situation in Iraq is getting better. But just because the President says it, does not make it so.

"226 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq in just the last three months. The Generals have told us that the presence of large numbers of U.S. forces in Iraq encourages the insurgents. The President provided no specifics on how, or when, the number of troops will be reduced.

With more than 2,100 American soldiers killed, thousands more wounded grievously, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent, the President owes the American people more than he provided today.

"We should follow the lead of Congressman John Murtha, who has put forth a plan to make America safer, to make our military stronger, and to make Iraq more stable. That is what the American people and our troops deserve."
The same situation exists today.

Murtha's record isn't spotless. As some commenters have noted, he's been tangled up in the ABSCAM mess. And in the past he has seemed more interested in doling out federal grants for pet projects than fiscal responsibility. Nobody's perfect.

But if we want to "clean House", Steny Hoyer is not the man for the job. He's too tied to corporate interests. As David Sirota has noted:
You remember, it was Hoyer - the Democratic Whip - who refused to whip votes together to try to defeat the corporate-written Central American Free Trade Agreement. When Pelosi tried to build opposition to the disgusting bankruptcy bill, it was Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, who not only didn't whip against the bankruptcy bill, but actually voted for it, after pocketing massive campaign contributions from the banking industry.

And when Pelosi worked to keep her caucus together in opposing the GOP Energy Bill, it was Hoyer who voted for the nauseating legislation after pocketing more than $300,000 from energy/natural resource industry cash. That legislation that literally gave away billions of taxpayer dollars to the energy industry profiteers who proceeded to bilk Americans with higher and higher gas prices.
Murtha is more likely to have a fruitful working relationship with Speaker Pelosi and listen to voices in the progressive movement than Hoyer is. Hoyer has a history of undermining the Democratic caucus and creating division rather than unity.

He didn't fight the bankruptcy bill. Or the energy bill. He has criticized his fellow Democrats' support of a timely Iraq withdrawal. On too many important issues, Steny Hoyer has the wrong positions. We feel that Murtha would be a better leader in the House Democratic caucus, and we'd like to see him get the chance to prove himself.

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