From the Washington Post:
In his 37 years in the military, John Murtha won two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star with a Combat "V," and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. As a Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania for the past 31 years, he has been a fierce hawk, championing conflicts in Central America and the Persian Gulf.Denny "The Coach" Hastert avoided the draft with a medical deferment.
Yesterday, he was called a coward.
After Murtha stunned the Capitol with a morning news conference calling for a pullout from Iraq because our "troops have done all they can," the denunciations came quickly.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) accused Murtha of delivering "the highest insult" to the troops. "We must not cower," Hastert lectured the old soldier.
But, oddly, his "bad knee" that kept him out of Vietnam didn't keep him from joining the Wheaton College wrestling team.
Some would say that makes him a "Chickenhawk." Others would use a less charitable term.
Over at HuffPost, Stephen Kaus explains why the Chickenhawk point is valid:
Let me try to explain this. It appears that those who pushed and operated this war were very cavalier with the lives of our servicemen.So let's make a deal.
First, there was a rush to war that was not necessary for its stated purpose, but could be explained by the neo-cons' near-religious belief that a good ass-whipping of Sadaam would be a panacea for the Middle East undoubtedly synergizing with the President's pique at the assassination attempt on 41. Second, there were too few troops with too little protection. Third, continuing the faith-based theme, there was virtually no planning, it appears, for what to do as occupiers beyond the belief expressed on Meet the Press by Vice-President Cheney that "we will be greeted as liberators."
So, the point is that it is particularly galling when the people who have put American lives at greater risk than necessary have never taken the risk themselves. That is not to say that one must have been in the service to be a war-time leader. It is to say that the leaders who botched this war should have been as concerned about our soldiers' lives as they previously were about their own.
If Denny doesn't lecture John "Purple Hearts, Bronze Star and Cross of Gallantry" Murtha about the military and bravery, then Murta won't lecture Denny about young men in tights rolling around on the ground.
UPDATE -- Well, it looks like House Republicans are following Denny's example. Hastert must apologize for his party's inexcusable attack on a decorated military hero. If he fails to do so, we can only assume that he approves.
From Think Progress:
Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) today on the House floor, speaking about Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), a decorated former Marine:
Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed in what we were doing is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body – that we will see this through.