Yo Murtha: Notes on the Congressional Debate on Iraq Withdrawal

Lucky JimCongressional leadership has scheduled a vote on withdrawing the troops from Iraq. Republicans are spinning this as "calling Murtha's bluff," though, clearly, Rep. John Murtha's not the one with a weak heart for this kind of battle. At his press conference yesterday proposing such a bill, he was asked who his co-sponsors were and Murtha replied, "I didn't ask for any." The GOP is calling the Democratic leadership's bluff -- they're the ones who wanted to bask a bit in the courage of a combat veteran without actually agreeing to his proposal. And, at first glance, the Dems seem to be folding like someone holding a handful of bricks: Denouncing the war, praising Murtha, but saying they'll vote against withdrawal.

However, the Dems have an ace in the hole: The bill is technically a Republican one -- it's not Murtha's bill at all, but Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter's -- which means all the GOP congressmen that rail again this "Democrat plan" are wrong. Indeed, the meme swept through the Democratic ranks quickly, with Rep. Jim McGovern pointing out early on that "Republicans are talking about how irresponsible the Democrats are for wanting an immediate withdrawal from Iraq without a plan or safety net: I would like to point out that no Democrat has called for that this evening, only Mr. Hunter has." Ooooh, SNAP!

As the debate continues, it Democrats appear to have grasped just how powerful the GOP's stupid legislative trick was. Another Democratic rep just exclaimed how disappointed "our troops" will be when they discover that the Republican chair of the House Armed Services committee wrote the legislation to pull the rug out from under them. A second, ballsier one, wondered what Zarakowi could do with this information. Man, not even Murtha's gonna vote for this.


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