January 18, 2006


Purple Heartbreakers (JAMES WEBB, 1/18/06, NY Times)

[N]ow comes Jack Murtha. The administration tried a number of times to derail the congressman's criticism of the Iraq war, including a largely ineffective effort to get senior military officials to publicly rebuke him (Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was the only one to do the administration's bidding there).

Now the Cybercast News Service, a supposedly independent organization with deep ties to the Republican Party, has dusted off the Swift Boat Veterans playbook, questioning whether Mr. Murtha deserved his two Purple Hearts. The article also implied that Mr. Murtha did not deserve the Bronze Star he received, and that the combat-distinguishing "V" on it was questionable. It then called on Mr. Murtha to open up his military records.

Cybercast News Service is run by David Thibault, who formerly worked as the senior producer for "Rising Tide," the televised weekly news magazine produced by the Republican National Committee. One of the authors of the Murtha article was Marc Morano, a long-time writer and producer for Rush Limbaugh.

The accusations against Mr. Murtha were very old news, principally coming from defeated political rivals. Aligned against their charges are an official letter from Marine Corps Headquarters written nearly 40 years ago affirming Mr. Murtha's eligibility for his Purple Hearts - "you are entitled to the Purple Heart and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Purple Heart for wounds received in action" - and the strict tradition of the Marine Corps regarding awards. While in other services lower-level commanders have frequently had authority to issue prestigious awards, in the Marines Mr. Murtha's Vietnam Bronze Star would have required the approval of four different awards boards.

Hard to take Mr. Webb's protestations too seriously when he ignores the two attacks the media covered most heavily in recent years, those on George W. Bush's service. But it's both wrong and foolish to attack Mr. Murtha and likely something the Party and White House want no part of. It's wrong because there's apparently no reason to doubt the quality of his service, and foolish because every time Mr. Murtha opens his mouth it helps the GOP. You could hardly ask for a better spokesman for the defeatist party if you're a Republican.

A Swift-Moving Story (Howard Kurtz, January 18, 2006, Washington Post)

Is Jack Murtha being unfairly Swift-boated?

The left side of the commentariat is up in arms about my piece on a conservative Web site raising questions about the congressman's two Purple Hearts.

Here's the report by the Cybercast News Service: Check it out and reach your own conclusions.

Look, anyone can dig into a congressman's record, and Cybercast (which is part of Brent Bozell's conservative media criticism group) quoted people on the record, dug up a bunch of clips and gave the Pennsylvania Democrat a chance to respond. Editor in Chief David Thibault told me that Murtha had placed himself in the crossfire by becoming a leading voice for a U.S. pullout in Iraq.

What, exactly, does whatever Murtha did near Danang in 1967 have to do with the soundness of his stance on Iraq? In the case of John Kerry, you could argue that the Swift Boat Vets -- even though the media poked significant holes in their account -- was challenging the biography of a presidential candidate who had put his Vietnam heroism at the center of his campaign. But what is Jack Murtha running for, other than reelection in his district?

The one thing Mr. Murtha has done that would tend to make his own war fair game is to compare the war he fought in -- and the armed services he fought as a part of -- to this one. But even that doesn't go specifically to his combat record.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2006 11:11 AM

Just because something is "wrong and foolish" would never keep the GOP from doing it. There's a reason for the Stupid Party label.

Posted by: Brandon at January 18, 2006 11:25 AM

John Kerry was a special case--he had been known to be scum & a fraud for decades, but his run for the Presidency made the facts come out to a national audience in ways that had not happened previously. Murtha's record is not relevant at all in the way that Kerry's was...

Posted by: b at January 18, 2006 11:26 AM

Add to that Murtha's age, which works against any attack, since more and more, his public appearances are reminiscent of Admiral Stockdale at the 1992 vice-presidential debate. You don't attack someone like that, you just let them speak, if you're the GOP, or cringe and hope he'll step back into the shadows, if you're the small sane anti-war section of the Democratic Party (the rabidly insane part is content to treat Murtha as the male Cindy Sheehan, trotting him out for dog and pony shows before dumping him on a street corner when he no longer serves any useful purpose).

Posted by: John at January 18, 2006 11:35 AM

The media poked exactly zero holes in the SBV's account of Kerry's service. Furthermore, they refused to report the many lies Kerry told about his incursion into Cambodia in Christmas '69 at Dick Nixon's insistence (who wasn't even president at the time).

No, once again, it was the media storyline that was mothridden (see Mapes, Rather, 60 Minutes II, National Guard, Bush).

Posted by: Melissa at January 18, 2006 1:25 PM

Melissa, Glad to see you don't buy the story that the media poked holes in the Swiftboat vets narrative. I thought I kept a fairly good watch on the last presidential election and I don't remember any either.

I do remember the media trying to smear some of them, but nothing stuck because there was nothing to their accusations.

It's interesting that Murtha, like Kerry, hasn't released all his military records either.

Posted by: erp at January 18, 2006 4:00 PM

So a guy that gives a glowing review to a Navy officer during the war and then recants and completely changes his story 30 years later has not a single "hole"? Right.

Posted by: Pug at January 18, 2006 6:12 PM

here they come, grog's army

Posted by: toe at January 18, 2006 6:15 PM


So you believe that Kerry DID go into Cambodia ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 18, 2006 8:27 PM

Pug, it is possible that Kerry was being promoted out of that officer's hair. Sometimes, it is just easier to do that.

Posted by: Mikey at January 18, 2006 10:04 PM

The Swift Boat Vets saw a lot of hostile fire, but were not hit. Kerry had to recant on Cambodia, he had to withdraw David Alston from his entourage, and he still hasn't released his service records. Perhaps he's waiting for somebody to issue fake ones, so he can make more accusations.

If not for the Internet, the Swifties would be forever victims of the Big Lie. They could have become the Paula Jones(es) of 2004. But, although the moonbats and the 'elites' like Larry O'Donnell will never admit it, they will be remembered as having done their duty (again).

I don't know anything about Murtha's record in Vietnam, and I don't really care. He could have the Medal of Honor around his neck, but he still would have dishonored himself by aligning with Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi, who are active haters of the American military.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 18, 2006 11:19 PM

Congratulations guys. I hate to break to you folks with no grasp of history, but are ANY of you highly intelligent folks aware that your dear ol Rummy shook Hussiens hand and sold him the gas and weapons he used to kill people? He did on it your dear old senile mummy leader Reagans orders. Why?... so the islamic nutballs who control iran wouldnt take over the greater middle east. I think its funny, all you flaghumping, chest thumping patriots are all gung ho about sending our boys to die for the mullahs of iran. Guess what boys, IRaq is going to become a radical islamic state. Reagan knew that, its why he helped hussien fight irans influence. Hussien was a mean nasty sonnofabith. Sometimes, smart people have two mean nasty sonnofacbitches fight each other instead of them. Thats what reagan did. Yes, unlike the simple, black and white world you inbreds pelosihumpers like to live in, Reagan lived in the real world, and he knew a brutal but secular dictator like Hussien was far better than a radical islamic theocracy. Thats why reagan sold him gas and thats what simpletons like the monkey you helped select are too stupid to understand. You know that your fellow boxerhumpers are now leaving Iraq in droves (look it up sometime fellers), because its no longer safe to be an Xtian in iraq? All the idiots you gave "freedom" to are now enjoying the freedom do things like set christian churches on fire and assault women who dont wear veils. Enjoy your time in the sun you myopic, inbred little chomskys. Your empire is on fire and your lies are slowly but surely are coming to light. And a whole platoon of Democractic soldiers are going to kiss your soft chickenhawk asses in 2006, wait and see.

Posted by: John Deek at January 20, 2006 9:37 AM

Mr. Deek:

Yes, strengthening Shi'astan for it's armageddon with the Sunni seems the height of Realpolitick.

Posted by: oj at January 20, 2006 12:53 PM