"We are here to make history." (An American solider in Tikrit, Iraq)
"The problem with a lot of people is that what they know is true . . . isn't." (Mark Twain, who never met Jack Murtha but certainly knew his kind)
When Lee Atwater ran Republican campaigns in Columbia, SC during the early 1970s, he faced a situation where registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than two-to-one -- by 44% to 18%. Atwater won most of those campaigns by convincing voters that the "conservative" Democrats running against his candidates really weren't . . . conservative Democrats. (See John Brady's book Bad Boy)
Most people in PA's 12th District believe that Jack Murtha is "pro-military." He isn't.
His condemnation of the Haditha Marines -- without evidence and without any sort of charges being lodged -- is an anti-military act. Clearly, by making unfounded statements damaging to American soldiers and the effort in Iraq, he harmed our soldiers and encouraged al-Qaida, which was quick to publicize his words.
He thought he was advancing his chances to be Nancy Pelosi's "number two" in Congress, but he didn't even come close to winning. Steny Hoyer, now the Majority Leader, and other Democrats emphasized that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) had him pegged as one of the nation's most corrupt congressmen.
Thus, people who want to vote for Murtha because he's a friend of the military are dead wrong.
Some citizens want to vote for Murtha because he "brings home the bacon," that is, procures lots of federal handouts for his district. However, most of 12th District was an economically depressed area at the beginning of Murtha's career -- and remains such now. As the Almanac of American Politics points out, the median household income (MHI) in the 12th is about the same as in inner-city districts of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
I live in the 4th District, one that contains many aging mill towns, and the MHI here is above $43,000. In the 12th, the number is just above $30,000. Some bacon! Of course, the congressman does everything in his power to perpetuate the Myth that he's been an economic savior for the District. He hasn't.
Thus, people who want to vote for Murtha because he's been a force for economic revival are dead wrong.
Most Democrats in the 12th are conservative not only on military affairs but also on social issues. They believe Murtha is one of them, a "conservative Democrat." In fact, he's not.
Yes, he votes against abortion, but he's also voted in favor of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. As far back as the Clinton era, he voted to fund international efforts (led largely by Planning Parenthood) that involved pro-abortion measures.
Yes, he does vote (like just about every other Pennsylvania congressman) for Second Amendment rights. That has earned him the support of the NRA and other gun-rights organizations who sometimes wear blinders.
However, how does his supposed support for gun rights square with the kind of people he backs for leadership positions in Congress? Murtha ran Nancy Pelosi's campaign to become minority leader -- and was a staunch supporter of her for Speaker of the House.
Nancy Pelosi is opposed to gun rights. She is pro-abortion. In fact, she voted against the ban on partial birth abortion. Like Murtha, she even opposed President Bush's drug plan for seniors -- one that's saved my wife and I more than $4,000 in two years. He's financially supported other Democratic candidates, such as Jason Altmire, who also voted against the Bush drug plan but cast his vote for Pelosi as Speaker.
People in the 12th who vote for Murtha on the basis of his being a "conservative" Democrat are kidding themselves. He's done everything he can to ensure that far-left, anti-military Democrats like Pelosi, Obey, Rangel, and Waxman have the maximum degree of power.
In terms of back-room deals, Murtha is little different from Howard Jefferson, the Democrat who gave new meaning to the term "cold cash." Murtha procures hundreds of millions in earmarks, special projects, for companies that don't need the money. They've rewarded him in this century with roughly $10 million in campaign contributions. Go to OpenSecrets.org, type in the name "Murtha," and you can see the process for yourself. Murtha has spent millions of dollars in contributions paying off supporters. They hand the money to him, and he hands it back to them.
A few Democrats in the 12th will ignore Murtha's misdeeds, but more and more of them are ready to "Embrace the Future" and support Lt. Col. William Russell. It's about time.