John Murtha is Sorry

Representative John Murtha is one sorry man, and by sorry, I do not mean apologetic. His efforts to smear the military in the court of public opinion, the Marines in particular, has been elaborate, elongated and disgraceful. It is hard to fathom that this man was ever a member of a group that he seems to hold in such contempt. His distaste has such a powerful hold on him that, when asked on Nightline on January 2, 2006 if he would join today’s military, the Vietnam Veteran and Marine firmly answered, “No.” One can only assume the feeling is mutual.

Murtha’s character assassination of the Haditha Marines, long before the facts were available, and his efforts turn the public opinion against them will go down in American history as one of the most egregious acts of hate and slander against the United States military since…well, the last time anyone from Code Pink opened her mouth.

Even without the cameras rolling, Murtha’s distain is obvious. In the lead up to General Petraeus’ visit to testify in front of Congress this month, several organizations gathered in Washington to support both the General and the military. Walking the Hill were representatives from Gathering of Eagles, Vets For Freedom, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a variety of citizens both civilian and military. The week was filled with the kind of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” involvement and activism that, even if only for a few moments, reconnects citizens with the political process.

Reception to these visits was predictably varied. Chris Hill, National Director of Operations for GOE noted, “Probably half of the offices were happy to see us, one quarter seemed apathetic and one quarter were passive-aggressive."

Though these groups and individuals successfully arranged more than 300 meetings with congressmen and senators, not all of our public servants could be bothered to find time to interact with “the little people.” Even many of  those who did not put aside specific time at least popped out of the office and took a few minutes to briefly chat or provided access to a staff member.

Congressman John Murtha and his staff were not among those who set aside time, offered a quick hello, or provided a staff member for dialogue. Indeed, his office handled the opportunity to meet with the participating groups with the bumbling classlessness that seems the hallmark of his very existence.

Several veterans visited Congressman Murtha’s office to deliver their message and leave information. Identifying themselves as Marines, they asked Mr. Murtha’s staff if he could spare a moment to chat with them and answer a few questions. This simple request was rebuffed and not even a lowly staff member could make the time to talk to these members of our military. One can only speculate on who the Congressman had on his calendar that would not even allow a 3 minute conversation with Veterans to hear, firsthand, what is happening on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps his afternoon was filled with driving lessons for Senator Kennedy.

When asked about the failure to meet with them, the Congressman’s spokesman said, “Congressman Murtha routinely meets with members of our military and their families. Less than one percent of Americans have served in this war, and we appreciate both their service and sacrifice.” Don’t worry, I have no idea what the point of that second sentence means either.

While Murtha is clearly comfortable disparaging our military men with cameras rolling and lights blazing, one can only assume that the thought of having to look the victims of his smears in the eye was more than he could bear and more than his staff knew they could expect of him. 

After the visit by the Marines, several Blue Star mothers also paid a visit to Murtha’s office to speak with the Congressman or a staff member. This request was similarly denied.

After expressing displeasure at their unwillingness to meet with constituents, the mothers left the building. The Congressman’s staff reaction to this four minute conversation was particularly ironic in light of Murtha’s harsh words about our military’s ability to handle stress.

As they left the building and returned to the Cannon building area, 4 Police cars with flashing lights pulled up and 7 Policeman surrounded one of the Blue Star Mothers and requested she step aside. They asked if she had been in the Rayburn Bldg and what was her business was. She explained that she sought an opportunity to speak with the Congressmen or one of his staff. The officers took her driver’s license and detained her for several minutes. She was told that Murtha’s office had called them because she was “disruptive.” 

When asked for comment, Matt Mazonkey of Murtha’s office now claims, “She was never asked to leave our office, nor was she insulted by any member of our staff.” So, she was not asked to leave but police were called to detain her? She was not asked to leave but she became the recipient of a United States Congressman’s attempt to use the Capital Police to intimidate a citizen? Has Murtha and his staff spent a little too much time at the Clinton school of doublespeak? 

Though he willingly pointed an accusing figure at the Haditha Marines for failing to address a “stressful” properly, it seems that Mr. Murtha and his staff have more than a little work of their own in coping with stressful situations. The irony of the Murtha cartel’s overreaction to the appearance of military personal and suburban housewives should be lost on no one. One can be grateful that he is not a young man joining today’s military with access to deadly weapons.

Perhaps Code Pink can send over some aromatherapy candles and a meditation tape.
John Murtha is certainly one sorry man. Now if only he would apologize, for so, so much.