Why Is This Man Murthful?

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It's going rather underreported, except on Fox, but one of the more surprising political stories of the year is the resilience of Rep. John Murtha. In another year, Murtha would be in trouble from the usual roving bands of Republican strategists. He comes from a conservative district (Kerry won by a mere two percent), and he's taken a position on the Iraq War that, we're told, is political suicide—let's save time and use the Republican shorthand of "cut n' run."

But the opposition to Murtha has been absolutely pathetic. Probably because they need to save the skin of five endangered cohorts, Pennsylvania Republicans aren't forking money or support towards Murtha's challenger, a county commissioner (one of three in one of the district's nine counties) named Diana Irey. Pro-war bloggers, like the Rightroots coalition, have tried to shepherd money Irey's way. But as of now she's raised about $15,000 from Rightroots. That's less than Ned Lamont raises in a day.

Irey is getting a bunch of support from third-party groups, but this last weekend saw a revealing event in the district. Irey supporters held a "boot Murtha" rally, keynoted by the father of 9/11 martyr Todd Beamer, that attracted… 750 people. A competing rally for Murtha, headlined by Gen. Wesley Clark and Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, attracted more than twice as many people. Note that the anti-Murtha rally was indoors, and the pro-Murtha rally was outdoors—and that it was raining.

For some reason the American Spectator is leading its site for the third consecutive day with a story on a bribe Murtha didn't take, twenty-six years ago. It was enough to impress Fox News muppet Sean Hannity, but the story, like Irey's challenge, is mostly being ignored. I think a year or so ago, the corner was turned on the Iraq issue, and candidates are no longer going to be pegged as "anti-military" or beatable if they want out of the occupation. Murtha's the leading indicator of this.

NEXT: But Kip Hawley Is an Idiot!

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  1. David.

    Murtha is from a conservative district, but he is a conservative Democrat. He’s been reelected there since the dawn of man.

    There are places in this country where “liberal” and “conservative” are shorthand for “antiwar” and “prowar.” Western Pennsylvania is not one of them, and you can recognize everyone who doesn’t realize that (cf. this post, some on Instapundit, etc.) by seeing who thinks there is some chance or reason for this to be a competitive race.

    Probably because they need to save the skin of five endangered cohorts, Pennsylvania Republicans aren’t forking money or support towards Murtha’s challenger

    No, Pennsylvania Republicans aren’t forking money or support towards her because they’re smart enough to realize that Murtha is impregnable.

  2. I grew up in Murtha’s district and I can give you a two-word answer for why Murtha hasn’t had a serious threat from the Republicans for decades:

    Unions. Pork.

    The economy of the area was based entirely in mining and steel. Many of the residents still seem to believe that the Steel is going to come back someday and the big bad nightmare will be over. Murtha survives because he talks a good union game and drowns the area with pork, mostly in the form of military contractors forced to set up shop in the area as a condition of getting the contract.

  3. db,
    Your post implies that the GOP doesn’t bathe its districts in pork, or that it cannot succeed where unions were dominant 30 years ago. I have two more words: that’s just plain old stupid.

  4. It was enough to impress Fox News muppet Sean Hannity

    Not a hard thing to do. If Ann Coulter can impress him, he obviously goes for some low-hanging fruit.

  5. I don’t see anything in DB’s post that implies that the GOP doesn’t pass out the pork as liberally as any Democrat. Nor does it seem to say that the GOP can’t win where unions were once dominant.

    It lays those out as the reasons the GOP hasn’t been successful in that one district.

    Here’s two words for you: Plain. English.

  6. candidates are no longer going to be pegged as “anti-military” or beatable if they want out of the occupation.

    Wanting out of the occupation’s got nothing to do with it.

    He’s a decorated Marine officer who served in combat in Viet Nam. The GOP already tried to paint him as anti-war and it backfired. O’Reilly even apoligized.

  7. Patrick Kennedy:

    It’s easy to put words in someone else’s mouth and then “refute” the resulting “argument.”

    It’s somewhat more difficult to accept that some factual data simply don’t fit with one’s preconceived notion of the world.

  8. Patrick Kennedy:

    It’s easy to put words in someone else’s mouth and then “refute” the resulting “argument.”

    It’s somewhat more difficult to accept that some factual data simply don’t fit with one’s preconceived notion of the world.

  9. None of that is to deny that Republicans are capable of a pork deluge nor that they cannot compete in union areas.

    Why do you seem to assume that I’m writing as a Republican shill?

    And why do you feel the need to so outspokenly attack on that line? I detect, perhaps, some defensive, pre-emptive shillishness?

  10. madpad:

    I’ll bite. Are you saying that Coutier has low-hanging fruit?

    I wonder about that…

  11. She just has a piece stuck in her throat.

  12. Technically, I said she is low hanging fruit.

    But feel free to re-interpret any way you like in the service of mocking the punditry.

    And Patrick, I’m afraid I gotta agree with db & Macklin. db’s post implied nothing you’re accusing him of.

  13. I wish I could hide, but Patrick Kennedy is actually Lamar.

    I was making fun of Ted Kennedy’s drinking rep in another thread and forgot to change it. That said, I can see an innocent interpretation of db’s post. Still, I read it as saying that the GOP can’t beat Murtha because he has a monopoly on unions and pork.

  14. “It was enough to impress Fox News muppet Sean Hannity, but the story, like Irey’s challenge, is mostly being ignored.”

    It was pathetic. Hannity kept calling it “shocking”. Alan Colmes easily smacked them both down by indicating that the Spectator wouldn’t even be doing the story if Murtha hadn’t come out against the war. It was also quite transparent that Hannity put this on to distract from the Foley scandal.

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