Has the Tipping Point Arrived?
Yesterday's bizarre fracas in the U.S. House of Representatives is leading the news today. No doubt, it also will be the matière du week-end for a lot of opinionated columnists, TV shouting heads, and bloggers.
"[N]ow I believe the opposite. I believe we've done everything we can do. I believe we have become the enemy. And I'll tell you this: The Iraqis are not going to do the fighting unless we turn it over to them. They're going to let us continue.
-- Rep. John Murtha, News Hour, Nov. 17, 2005
Depending on your politics -- or, more likely, your capacity for cynicism and irony -- the House of Representatives was acting either like disgraceful clowns at a funeral or passionate debaters of the Iraq War.
"Uproar in House As Parties Clash on Iraq Pullout" screams today's New York Times headlines.
"House Rejects Iraq Pullout After GOP Forces a Vote Democrats Enraged By Personal Attack," reads the Washington Post's headline.
"Pullout Debate Takes Nasty Turn: House Rejects GOP Move Amid Barbs, Rubukes", headlines the Chicago Tribune.
"House Erupts in War Debate," says the Los Angeles Times.
The conventional view is that it was all partisan politics run amok. Tempers flared on the floor of the House, vile calumnies were flung by Republicans at Democrats, and even physical threats were made -- all out of political party fervor.
While hewing to the 'partisan' line, the Associated Press offers perhaps the most dispassionate account of the actual business before the House that led to the chaos:
House Republicans maneuvered for swift rejection Friday of any notion of immediately pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, sparking a nasty, sometimes personal debate over the war and a Democratic lawmaker's own call for withdrawal.
Furious Democrats accused the GOP of orchestrating a political stunt, leaving little time for debate and changing the meaning of a withdrawal resolution offered by Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania.
Without a doubt, partisan passions were sparked by the heart-felt press statement urging a "re-deployment" and rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq which was proposed the day before by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). (The full text of his most extraordinary statement is archived here.)
Nearly all press accounts you'll see mention that Murtha is "highly respected" and considered by House colleagues an "expert" on military affairs -- leaving other implications to the reader's imagination. But the Washington Bureau chief for the Philadelphia Inquirer, a newspaper that has covered Murtha closely for years, is more explicit:
"Known as a friend and champion of officers at the Pentagon and in the war zone, it is widely believed in Congress that Murtha often speaks for those in uniform and could be echoing what U.S. commanders in the field and in the Pentagon are saying privately about the conflict."
In other words, Murtha's original resolution -- not the phony version ginned up by House Republicans -- likely describes the actual position of our military leaders, possibly even Donald Rumsfeld, as Tom Oliphant hinted yesterday.
A somewhat obscure blog known as Kazablog already is saying this is the tipping point. There will soon be many more. Just watch Technorati or Blog Search or Daou Report or Lefty Blogs or any of the dozen other blog aggregates, left and right.
That's what has war supporters of both parties gnawing their tails. They know that If you really want to support our troops, military leaders are saying through Mr. Murtha, you'll help to bring them home now.
By January, the criminal George W. Bush will be trying to join the chorus.