The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is Congressman John Murtha. He gets the award for the following.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Rep. John Murtha, a leading congressional opponent of the war in Iraq, on Thursday said his plans for placing conditions on how President George W. Bush can spend $93.4 billion in new combat funds would effectively stop an American troop buildup.
"They won't be able to continue. They won't be able to do the deployment. They won't have the equipment, they don't have the training and they won't be able to do the work. There's no question in my mind," the Pennsylvania Democrat said.
With opposition to the Iraq war beginning to run deep in Congress, Democrats now in control of the House and Senate are trying to assert their power of the purse in ways that they think could diminish the U.S. military involvement, while also providing funds to support troops already there.
The House is scheduled to vote on Friday on a nonbinding resolution opposing Bush's 21,500-troop increase for Iraq.
Murtha hopes to choke off the 4-year-old war in Iraq by placing four conditions on combat funds through September 30:
The Pentagon would have to certify that troops being sent to Iraq are "fully combat ready" with training and equipment; troops must have at least one year at home between combat deployments; combat assignments could not be extended beyond one year; a "stop-loss" program forcing soldiers to extend their enlistment periods would be prohibited.
"We're trying to force a redeployment not by taking money away, by redirecting money," Murtha said, adding he wants U.S. funds to be slanted more toward diplomacy and Iraq reconstruction.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, blasted Murtha's proposals.
"While American troops are fighting radical Islamic terrorists thousands of miles away, it is unthinkable that the United States Congress would move to discredit their mission, cut off their reinforcements and deny them the resources they need to succeed and return home safely," Boehner said.
I agree with Boehner. TFM thinks the war was poorly handled and its handling. If the Democrats are so hell bent on ending the war, why doesn't Congress just pull the plug? No non-binding resolution crap, just an up and down vote. If the Dems feel the public is behind them, what do they have to lose?
No most of Congress are political cowards in spite of 400 or so House members having what amount to safe seats. What Murtha is proposing is an absurd micromanagement of the war in order to end it without having to vote directly on the issue.
The Washington Post took Murtha to the woodshed in a Saturday editorial.
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-Pa.) has a message for anyone who spent the week following the House of Representatives' marathon debate on Iraq: You've been distracted by a sideshow. "We have to be careful that people don't think this is the vote," the 74-year-old congressman said of the House's 246-182 decision in favor of a resolution disapproving of President Bush's troop surge. "The real vote will come on the legislation we're putting together." That would be Mr. Murtha's plan to "stop the surge" and "force a redeployment" of U.S. forces from Iraq while ducking the responsibility that should come with such a radical step.Even the WAPO agrees about the congressman's ideas, even calling him ignorant as to Iraq. That seconds the motion, John Murtha is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
We'll return to Mr. Murtha's plan, but first it's worth considering the five days of debate that he so breezily dismissed. It's true that nonbinding resolutions won't stop the troop surge, which is already underway. But after years of minimal debate and oversight of the war, the House Democratic leadership was right to allow scores of representatives to speak at some length on Iraq. Some of the speeches were little more than partisan rhetoric, but there were also intelligent and heartfelt interventions, especially from veterans of Iraq and Vietnam.
The House vote does matter: It ought to increase the pressure on Mr. Bush and the Iraqi government to follow through on their pledges to accompany the military campaign with tangible steps toward political accords and economic reconstruction. Senate leaders would be wise to reach an agreement today allowing a similar debate. And both chambers should aggressively conduct oversight hearings aimed at holding the administration to its promise to link continued U.S. troop deployments to Iraqi performance.
Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site MoveCongress.org, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to "stop the surge." So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill -- an action Congress is clearly empowered to take -- rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. "What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with," he said.
Mr. Murtha's cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq. He continues to insist that Iraq "would be more stable with us out of there," in spite of the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that early withdrawal would produce "massive civilian casualties." He says he wants to force the administration to "bulldoze" the Abu Ghraib prison, even though it was emptied of prisoners and turned over to the Iraqi government last year. He wants to "get our troops out of the Green Zone" because "they are living in Saddam Hussein's palace"; could he be unaware that the zone's primary occupants are the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy?
It would be nice to believe that Mr. Murtha does not represent the mainstream of the Democratic Party or the thinking of its leadership. Yet when asked about Mr. Murtha's remarks Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered her support. Does Ms. Pelosi really believe that the debate she orchestrated this week was not "the real vote"? If the answer is yes, she is maneuvering her party in a way that can only do it harm.
Captain Ed also blogged on the Post's smackdown of Congressman Murtha.
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