By MANIFESTO JOE
It looks like the gloves, at long last, may finally be off. And the fellow now leading the charge against a tragic and needless war is an unlikely one.
U.S. Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania is a Democrat, but a very hawkish one. He's a retired Marine Corps colonel who was wounded twice in Vietnam. He was an early supporter of the Iraq war.
But after 32 months and the loss of over 2,000 American lives, it was time at last for someone of his background to state the obvious.
"The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily," Murtha said. "It is time to bring them (the troops) home."
This came just after our "vice president," Dick Cheney, said that accusations that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to justify the war were a "dishonest and reprehensible" political ploy. He went on to call Democrats "opportunists" who are peddling "cynical and pernicious falsehoods" to gain advantage while U.S. troops are dying in Iraq.
Cheney's absurd venom would be laughable if it weren't so audacious. It comes from the quintessential political opportunist, and someone whose approval rating in one poll has plummeted to 19 percent -- probably a little higher than Lyndon LaRouche's.
Cheney's habitual lying about Iraq is well-documented. AMERICAblog.com has a link to an online document, prepared for U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., presenting 51 instances of Cheney misleading the country about Iraq. And the contradictions, one upon another, over time, are so blatant that it would be a sick joke to try to pass this stuff off as lapses of memory, a la Karl Rove's ostensible defense over Leakgate.
The "vice president" has also been a shameless prevaricator about other things. During his debate with John Edwards in 2004, the perpetually sneering Cheney apparently lied in his snide, petty comments about never having met Edwards. The idea, it would seem, was to cast aspersions on Edwards' attendance record in the Senate. The fact is that they were photographed together more than once, years before the debate. The proof surfaced the next day.
Unfortunately, Edwards is a nice guy who decided to keep the gloves on. He didn't call Cheney a liar right on the spot. He just showed the news media the pictures the next day. But the damage had been done. And this graciousness is a mistake Democrats have been making for decades.
But now an unlikely Democrat, an ex-Marine with views similar to the late Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, has his knuckles out. And he seems ready to decorate them with a little brass.
He said sardonically of chickenhawk Cheney, "I like guys who got five deferments and (have) never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."
It is sad that our political discourse has degenerated so much into the muck of ad hominem attacks. But hey, newsflash -- this whole thing got far too personal long ago. When one is dealing with foes as unscrupulous and disingenuous as the perpetually sneering Herr Cheney, dirty, ruthless and mean fighting is somewhat necessary.
It is not the way we would normally choose. And I'm not talking about stooping all the way down to their pond-scum level. (That would actually be hard to do.) But the gloves have to come off, and stay off.
All Democrats, and all Republicans who still have half a brain and half a conscience, should follow Murtha's example. One way or another, it is imperative to put an end to this administration's brazen contempt for public responsibility, honesty and just plain decency.
MANIFESTO JOE IS AN UNDERGROUND WRITER LIVING IN TEXAS.