Democrats, Murtha and Iraq
When it came time for House Democrats to vote on whether or not to bring American forces home from Iraq, they followed the same cut-and-run strategy they proposed for our troops (“Key House Democrat calls for Iraq pullout now,” Page 1, Friday). Lacking the courage of their convictions, House Democrats refused to back up their recent antiwar rhetoric with an antiwar vote. Presumably, they want to be able to speak out of both sides of their mouths on the issue, telling their donors in Hollywood and at MoveOn.org how much they oppose the war while telling their constituents back home something different.
If Democrats are really itching for a debate on the war, let’s have it. They should explain how retreating from the war on terror will impact our security and whether it will embolden our enemies.
They should stop trying to revise history, which shows them to be hypocrites on top of having no convictions. They also should be compelled to confront the world the way it is and not the way they wish it would be.
Democrats would love nothing better than to take us back to the Clinton years, when we pretended to be at peace because we ignored the terrorist bombings that were taking American lives both here and abroad. President Bush decided it was time to leave that fantasy, and Democrats should be told the war will go on whether we choose to defend ourselves or not.
THOMAS M. BEATTIE
Rep John P. Murtha recently clambered upon the defeatist wagon, linking arms with America’s Bush-haters, antiwar agitators and assorted other contrarians. Mr. Murtha’s actions are transparently partisan — and a little too self-serving. It is one thing to be against the war and work honorably as an elected official to bring it to an end. It is an altogether different thing to publicly undermine the commander in chief, impede the war effort, trivialize the threat to this country, marginalize our casualties, endanger our military in the field and (axiomatically) aid and abet the enemy. There is a war on, and people are getting killed. It is unfortunate that the circumstances aren’t exactly as Mr. Murtha would prefer.
Mr. Murtha, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Reserve colonel, knows as well as Sen. John Kerry, the erstwhile Navy Reserve Vietnam War hero, that his public actions immediately and directly underpin those who kill and maim American troops in Iraq.
Mr. Kerry’s actions performed similar services to the enemy in an earlier war. Underwriting callous public actions by noting prior military service is no justification. It demeans the uniform. It defames the flag under which are buried thousands of less fortunate military men and women than Mr. Murtha.
In the end, Mr. Murtha, his military retirement safely in his pocket, turns out to be just another partisan Democratic copperhead whose solution for bringing the war to a successful conclusion is cutting and running. His loyalty to the Democratic Party outweighs his public responsibilities.
No thanks, colonel. We followed your prescription for the Korean and Vietnam wars. Those outcomes remain painful and obvious. How do the quitters, collaborators and weak sisters intend to explain themselves to today’s betrayed soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen? Through Arabic interpreters? Our military deserves far better than this latest betrayal. So do their families back in the Conemaugh Valley of Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Semper Fi, colonel.
The dishonesty and deceit inherent in my Republican Party of today is on display for all to see with its reaction to the call by the distinguished U.S. war hero Rep. John P. Murtha to withdraw our troops from Iraq.
Mr. Murtha’s plea to extricate ourselves from our ill-advised, poorly planned foreign escapade noted that we should leave Iraq “at the earliest practicable date.” The Republicans somehow transformed Mr. Murtha’s words into a call to withdraw immediately, thereby providing them a window to consider his plea a call to cowards to cut and run, not what he had in mind or what he stated.
In an effort to embarrass and marginalize Mr. Murtha, the Republican House leadership put to a vote whether we should withdraw immediately from Iraq. Naturally, their measure was voted down overwhelmingly. The White House immediately declared that “Congress rejected the call to cut and run….”
In the eyes of the Bush White House and those who are loyal to the president no matter what, Mr. Murtha committed the crime of articulating what is on the minds and in the hearts of many Americans. We are in a conflict many see as undefined and open-ended, with no conclusion in sight; the cost in life, limb and dollars is astounding and ever-increasing; and we want not an immediate pullout or an announced timetable for withdrawal, but some plan to bring our fine troops home before many more years have passed, countless more caskets have arrived on our shores and hundreds of billions more dollars have been spent — money we do not have.
Despite Mr. Murtha’s stature and authority on the matter of war and his unqualified support of virtually every armed conflict in which our nation has been embroiled, he has been denounced, the implication being that he is disloyal, unpatriotic and cowardly.
It is pathetic that one who has served his nation so honorably and selflessly as Mr. Murtha must absorb barbs from those who have not served, particularly the administration’s designated verbal sniper, Vice President Dick Cheney, who declined to go to Vietnam and to enlist in any branch of military service because of having “other priorities.”
If the American people pay close attention to the current debate over withdrawal from Iraq and remove all partisan lenses, they surely will conclude that it is Mr. Murtha who is right and honorable. Those who seek to malign and impugn this extraordinary man or his motives should be ashamed. They must be revealed for the partisan and disreputable people they are.
OREN M. SPIEGLER
Upper Saint Clair, Pa.
Alito on quotas
Although I haven’t yet made up my mind on the confirmation of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court, I want to deal with an apparent misconception expressed by Sen. Ken Salazar, Colorado Democrat. He is reported to have “grave concern” that before he became a judge, Judge Alito said in a 1985 memo that ethnic and racial quotas are illegal (“Democrat in ‘Gang of 14’ raises doubts about Alito,” Nation, Friday.)
Mr. Salazar implies that there is something radically wrong with opposing quotas. However, Justice Lewis Powell’s renowned decision in the Bakke case rejected quotas, and the Supreme Court did the same in the 6-3 Gratz v. Bollinger decision of June 23, 2003. Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen G. Breyer were among the six. Although the companion case, Grutter v. Bollinger, upheld an affirmative-action program, it was not one that imposed quotas. It is unfortunate that Mr. Salazar is “gravely concern[ed]” about the confirmation of a person because he has expressed a view on ethnic and racial quotas that is the position the Supreme Court upheld in two major cases. Who is out of the mainstream on quotas? Other issues are another matter.
Crime increased after handguns outlawed
Though Steve Chapman’s column “A pointless handgun ban” (Commentary, Thursday) was otherwise extremely well done, as usual, he is wrong in saying, “The murder rate dropped in Washington, D.C., after it outlawed handguns….”
The ban started on February 5, 1977. The District’s murder rate was 26.8 per 100,000 persons in 1976, and it rose to 27.8, 28, 27.4, 31.5 and 35.1 in the following five years. Though the murder rate has gone up and down since then, since 1976 it has only once fallen below what it was before the ban. Indeed, the overall violent crime rate soared from 1,481 to 2,274 per 100,000 persons in the five years after the ban.
JOHN R. LOTT JR.
American Enterprise Institute