Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
Nov 24, 2005

Help! Murtha! Police!

New York's Rialto Theater used to answer the phone calls from people inquiring about the evening's movies with the greeting, "Help! Murder! Police!" It was a novel way to suggest the kind of excitement movie goers could expect at the Rialto.

Congressional Republicans uttered a similar cry when Pennsylvania's Democrat Congressman, John Murtha, suggested that it was time we pulled American troops out of harm's way in Iraq. The GOP cries of, "Help! Murtha! Police!" were, however, more suggestive of panic than entertainment. Congress faces the voters in less than a year's time and suddenly John Murtha seems to be in much better tune with voters than the Republicans who charged the ex-marine with cutting and running.

Until recently Republicans have been able to hide behind the troops. Our soldiers and marines genuinely want their mission to succeed if not for its own sake then instead they want it to succeed so that their fallen comrades will not have died in vain.

Murtha, an ex-marine with two Purple Hearts to his credit, doesn't need to hide behind the troops for his contrary opinion of the war's management or mismanagement. Rather, he feels a fatherly need to protect the troops from their ethos of self sacrifice.

Unlike many other Congressmen John Murtha does not court the media. When he goes to military hospitals to talk to wounded vets, which he does a lot now-a-days, he goes by himself. Murtha recently choked back tears of indignation during an interview as he recalled one battered veteran he met at a VA hospital. Badly mangled the soldier was being denied a Purple Heart because he had been injured by "friendly fire" rather than by the enemy. When Murtha learned this he told the Military that if it wouldn't give the young man a Purple Heart Murtha would give the soldier one of his.

What the soldiers think is important. Until now they've hung tough even when body armor and other necessities were in short supply. Most voted for Bush. When asked by Administration officials whether they want to continue they mostly go with the party line: "stay the course."

More than ever "stay the course" is the Republican Party line. Republicans have championed the Iraqi theater in the war-against-terror rather like the Congressmen in 1860 who rushed out to see the Civil War's first big battle with picnic baskets. They had to abandon their cheerful picnics when the Union Army was routed at Bull Run. In short order Congressmen found themselves surrounded by a jostling sea of soldiers fleeing for the safety of Washington DC.

Murtha is not just interested in the physical safety of our military but also with their honor. The Congressmen had kind words for Captain Fishbach who was recently detained by Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department. Assigned to interrogate POWs, Fishbach balked at the pressure to ignore the Geneva Convention.

While other soldiers dutifully followed the new anti-Geneva interrogation policies on the basis of verbal orders Fishbach demanded written instructions. As Lyndie Englund discovered superior officers are reluctant to put their name on orders to strip prisoners naked, leash them like dogs, and beat the crap out of them. Captain Fishbach felt these interrogation methods were not only criminal but that they sullied the reputation of the
United States . Its no wonder the Administration viewed the Captain as being derelict in his duties.

Republicans can take comfort in their Party's long history of torture and abuse. Why it was Abraham Lincoln himself, who had his anti-war critic Congressman Clement Vallandigham arrested by General Burnside and water boarded until he renounced his copperhead ways. After that Vallandigham was stripped naked, and kept in solitary confinement in a Cuban detention camp for the duration of the war. That way he could no longer threaten the Great Emancipator's work.

Oops! I think I got a lot of the facts in that last paragraph wrong. This is what the current Administration does.

Help! Murtha! Police!

Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com