The Washington Post tramps the dirt down on Rep. John Murtha's plan to assign (un-meetable) caveats to further funding of U.S. operations. Short take: Murtha broke every one of Machiavelli's rules and fumbled the plan's rollout.
From the beginning, Murtha acted on his own to craft a complicated legislative strategy on the war, without consulting fellow Democrats. When he chose to roll out the details on a liberal, antiwar Web site on Feb. 15, he caught even Pelosi by surprise while infuriating Democrats from conservative districts.
Then for an entire week, as members of Congress returned home for a recess, Murtha refused to speak further. Democratic leaders failed to step into the vacuum, and Republicans relentlessly attacked a plan they called a strategy to slowly bleed the war of troops and funds. By the end of the recess, Murtha's once promising strategy was in tatters.
He reveals the plan to its enemies, let them spin it, and had no strategy for fighting back. Murtha, with all his combat cred, didn't rebut the silly charge that always cuts off this debate: that cutting off funding would "cut off the troops." Pro-war, pro-surge politicians are in a very unpopular stance, so they bolster that position by painting the picture of Congress literally snatching body armor and rifles away from them as they roast in the desert. And… Murtha doesn't argue. But the Post buries the lede:
Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.), another co-chairman who sits on the Appropriations Committee, is likely to try to tie the war spending bill to legislation demanding a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by a date certain, with the bill's money available only for the safe withdrawal of the troops.
Such legislation was precisely what Murtha hoped to head off with his recent Internet appearance, said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), who helped connect him with MoveCongress.org. And Moran still believes the appearance ultimately will work to the Democrats' favor. "The cognoscenti is upset because he's not under their control," Moran said. "They would prefer he release his plan to a think tank, but he decided he wanted to communicate directly. He doesn't trust the way the media filters what he says and does. He understands the power of being able to communicate."
I'm not going to say Moran is one of the stupidest chair-fillers in Congress. I will merely point out that he has a reverse Midas touch and anyone who follows his strategies is going to come away with some mighty weak strategies.