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Wednesday, January 18, 2006
 
Methinks They Doth Protest Too Much

So does Howard Kurtz.

Of course, politics ain't beanbag, and Murtha, as a 37-year Marine vet, must be accustomed to hostile fire. The Purple issue, in fact, has come up in some of his past campaigns. But now it's getting national play -- and sparking a liberal backlash.

Arianna Huffington is appalled:

"Last week, President Bush said that he would welcome 'an honest debate about Iraq' -- as long as 'the tone of this debate is respectful.' Oh, really? Then he should start by denouncing the despicable smear campaign being launched against Jack Murtha. The attacks, calling into question the military record of a decorated 37-year war veteran, and launched on the eve of Murtha's powerful appearance on '60 Minutes', are a vile, noxious, and blatantly obvious attempt to keep the press and the public from engaging in that 'honest debate about Iraq.'

"They are the lowest form of character assassination -- cranked out by the GOP attack machine with ruthless efficiency (and almost comical predictability). A belly flop into the Beltway sewer that degrades a political culture already so befouled it might seem beyond further degradation. But then we get this effluvium -- and the stench hanging over our democracy becomes unbearable. Bush must make it clear, immediately and in no uncertain terms, that, as a country, we need zero tolerance for this contemptible attempt to shove the reputation of a man who put his life on the line for his country into the media wood chipper.

"If Mrs. Alito cried over some of the questions asked of her husband, what should Mrs. Murtha do, slit her wrists?"


I'm with Blackfive mostly:

Look, like with John Kerry, I'm more concerned about what the guy did after the war than during the war 40 years ago -- especially, when the man is in a position of power and influence.

"Supposedly, there are 'differing' accounts of heroism about John Murtha when he was in Viet Nam. There are always differing stories of combat . . . ask anyone who's been in combat.

"John Murtha needs his chops busted, but attacking Murtha's service record is callous and craven in my opinion.


I disagree with the last bit, though. Murtha and his fans have used his service as a defense against charges of him being a cut and runner. The main thing I found interesting about the original CNS story on this was the way Murtha's wounds migrated over time.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on May 12, 2002, reported that "Marine Corps casualty records show that Murtha was injured in 'hostile' actions near Danang, Vietnam, on March 22, 1967, and May 7, 1967.

"In the first incident, his right cheek was lacerated, and in the second, he was lacerated above his left eye. Neither injury required evacuation," the Post-Gazette reported.

But an Oct. 26, 1994, article in the Herald-Standard quoted Murtha as describing two different injuries.

"I was wounded in the arm with shrapnel from a bullet that hit the motor mount of a helicopter. In the other, my knee was banged up and my arm was banged up when a helicopter was shot down from a very few feet," Murtha told the Herald-Standard.

A June 1, 1967 report in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat quoted a letter that the newspaper indicated was sent by Murtha to his wife that same year. The letter apparently detailed yet another version of how Murtha qualified for one of his Purple Hearts. According to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, Murtha's injuries involved his being "struck in the ankle" by a "shot that ricocheted off the helicopter."


There may be nothing to it; maybe the cheek and the eyebrow injury were all one incident. Maybe somebody at the Johnstown paper was mistaken and wrote down "ankle" when he was told "elbow". These things happen. But you know how it is; when there are conflicting stories out there, people are going to wonder what the truth is.

Crazy Politico also has a good take on the Kurtz article.
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