"Talk is cheap," Jack Murtha wrote in a letter declaring his candidacy for House Majority Leader, "which is why, up until Iraq forced me to, I didn't do a lot of it." The sixteen-term Congressman and former Marine from rural, blue-collar Western Pennsylvania preferred to wheel and deal behind the scenes, doling out favors through his powerful seat on the House Appropriations Committee. Last November Murtha, the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, stunned the country by dramatically breaking with the Bush Administration's policy in Iraq and calling for a swift redeployment of US troops. In June, he stunned his party by announcing he would challenge Minority Whip Steny Hoyer for the position of Majority Leader if Democrats took back the House, out of frustration with Hoyer's support for the war and teed off by Hoyer's icy relationship with Pelosi.
Democrats from both camps contended that while Pelosi may have miscalculated in backing Murtha so aggressively, the entire race will be forgotten in a week. "She's a very smart woman who made a mistake in judgment," said Barney Frank. "But it's a one-off thing." Added David Obey, the 68-year-old incoming chair of the Appropriations Committee: "I've seen a lot of bigger fights. This was mild by comparison."
Friday, November 17, 2006
"Why Murtha Lost"