Monday, November 21, 2005


Some people make me tired.

Joshua Holland of the Gadflyer argues that Dems should not defend Congressman John Murtha against the Republican ethics charge. What he fails to acknowledge is that the ethics process in the House is irretrievably broken. It's like saying to a Hatfield accused of wrongdoing in a county run by the McCoys that he should turn himself in to prove he's better than them. The ethics process was designed to address conduct short of criminal in order to defend the good name of the House. Once Newt Gingrich established the precedent that congressmen can take tax-deductible money intended for inner city orphans and convert it to producing political campaign materials, the House ethics process had no credibility. Even now, the House has not stood up for Congressman Jim McDermott, who was the second-to-last person willing to put his own a-- on the line to restore integrity for the ethics process (Joel Hefley, a Republican, was the last, and he only offered half a cheek). The House has no good name to defend, nor would the sacrifice of Jack Murtha restore it. If what Murtha has done is illegal, fine. Prosecute it and let twelve men and women, brave and true decide his fate. But ethics charges? pffft. What Holland is arguing for is actually, at its heart, unjust. The fundamental principle of justice is, as enunciated by the Torah (or, as us postmodernists would have it, the Pentateuch, that we are forbidden to be partial not only the wealthy, but also to the poor. He is arguing for a separate standard of justice for a congressman in the minority. Minority congressmen don't control committees. If Murtha did something wrong, why are all the Republicans on his committee, who had to approve anything he asked for, mysteriously missing from Holland's argument? What I say is, let's look at all of the potential ethics charges that could be filed against House members. If Murtha's anywhere near the top ten, I'll stop defending him. But with DeLay and Ney clearly at the top of the list, calling the possible preferential treatment of a few million in defense contracts on behalf of a congressman in the minority just makes me tired. It was by such distorted values that Clinton was impeached over heavy petting (or, more precisely, over a fib in a civil suit about heavy petting) by a Republican leadership filled with adulterers and liars. Absent clear evidence that whatever Murtha did or did not do is outside the bounds of normal congressional behavior, I'll dance with the one what brung me.
Luckily for us, John Murtha is a Fighting Democrat. He knows full well that to back down is precisely what the Republicans want to see happen.

But now, now that the Republican attempts to attack him have backfired so stunningly -- as a friend of mine who's already done two tours in Iraq said to me, the GOP's managed to piss off damned near every Marine who's put on a uniform, because most Marines worthy of the name know all about Murtha's Korean and Vietnam service -- I seriously doubt that the ethics probe will go very far. The fact that both Bush and Cheney were compelled to back away from their previous attacks on Murtha signifies to me that the "ethics investigation" will somehow be forgotten about over the Thanksgiving recess. (I almost hope that it isn't, because such a stupid move would be a tremendous gift to the Democrats.)
Veterans are just cannon fodder to the GOP. Crank 'em up on nationalist rhetoric, get 'em shot up, and then dump 'em. The treatment of Murtha is despicable.
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