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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

For Shame

You may have already read about the remarks made yesterday by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY) in response to Rep. John Murtha’s call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. If not, here they are:

Ayman Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy, as well as Abu Musab Zarqawi, have made it quite clear in their internal propaganda that they cannot win unless they can drive the Americans out. And they know that they can’t do that there, so they’ve brought the battlefield to the halls of Congress.And, frankly, the liberal leadership have put politics ahead of sound, fiscal and national security policy. And what they have done is cooperated with our enemies and are emboldening our enemies.

In case anyone needs a translation here, Davis basically charged Murtha (and unnamed “liberal leaders,” since the label hardly applies to the quite conservative Pennyslvanian) with being an agent of Zarquawi and of al Qaeda, and of cooperating with our country’s enemies.I haven’t seen video of the House GOP press conference, convened by Rep. Duncan Hunter of CA, in which Davis made these remarks, so I don’t know if any of his colleagues had the decency to wince or blush when he called another colleague a terrorist collaborator and a traitor.But the rest of this crowd (including Kay Granger, Mike Conaway, Louie Gohmert and John Carter of TX, Joe Wilson of SC, Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo of CO, David Dreir of CA, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of FL, and Jean Schmidt of OH) was pretty awful as well, making constant assertions that everything would be peachy-keen in Iraq if everybody just shut up and trusted the administration, and in particular repeating incessantly the fatuous assertion that if we weren’t in Iraq, the terrorists would be blowing up the United States. (Perhaps they’d start with blowing up San Francisco, as Bill O’Reilly invited them to do on national television last week).These smears of Murtha–a heavily decorated Marine Corps veteran of both Korea and Vietnam, who supported both Iraq wars, and has always been a staunch supporter of a robust national security posture and especially the needs of our troops–are impossible to properly characterize in a family-friendly blog. Their perpetrators are teetering on the line that divides people who deserve angry contempt, and people who are beneath contempt.And I say this as someone who doesn’t agree with Murtha’s position on Iraq, but who understands this is a guy that has no possible reason for taking it other than that he believes it’s right–for the country, for the troops, and for our national security.When the President of the United States started this crap a few days ago by accusing critics of his Iraq policies of aiding and abetting the terrorist enemy, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska issued this tart response: “The Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years.”This isn’t a terribly complicated proposition. Disagree with or even deplore Murtha’s or anybody else’s position on Iraq all you want. Make your case about why you think the consequences would be dreadful.But at a time when a majority of Americans have lost confidence in the administration’s Iraq policies–and when a majority of Republican Senators cast a vote this week questioning them as well–to impugn the patriotism of Bush’s critics is an act that manages to give demagoguery a bad name.

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