Those Democrats in the House determined to gut Jack Murtha's plan to tie Iraq funding to strict troop-readiness standards have found a great ally in the Washington Post. Hot on the heels of the hit-job editorial that Brit Hume used to buttress his senility surge assault, came Sunday's shiv-in-the-back "news story" headlined "Murtha Stumbles on Iraq Funding Curbs" (Get it? He's old, and old guys sometime stumble on curbs. Fun With Double Entendres!)
The piece, co-written by Jonathan Weisman and Lyndsey Layton, slams Murtha for the "botched launch" of his plan, claiming that Murtha's actions have "united Republicans and divided Democrats, sending the latter back to the drawing board just a week before scheduled legislative action, a score of House Democratic lawmakers said last week." The implication being that Murtha somehow blew it and put an end to the Democrats' blissful unity on Iraq. The truth is that there have been deep divisions among Democrats on the war since the beginning.
For example, Blue Dog Dem Jim Matheson's claim that Murtha's plan is "a non-starter, an absolute non-starter" is based more on his buying the GOP talking point that it "holds back resources from our troops" than any stumbles on Murtha's part.
And what is Weisnman and Layton's excuse for their sloppy reporting that Murtha's plan "surfaced Feb. 15 in an unorthodox Murtha appearance on MoveCongress.org, an antiwar Web site affiliated with the liberal activists of MoveOn.org"? You see, MoveCongress is not, in fact, "affiliated" with MoveOn. Indeed, if the Post reporters had bothered to check out the MoveCongress site, they'd have found a note announcing a name change contest designed to help the fact-check-challenged media avoid any further confusion.
MoveCongress is run by former House member Tom Andrews, who is actually quoted in the "Murtha Stumbles" piece, so it shouldn't have been too hard for Weisman and Layton to get their facts straight.
Perhaps most egregious of all, the article utterly misses the forest for the trees -- so focused on the process of Murtha's announcement of his plan, it utterly buried the substance of the plan. Indeed, it is interred in the 14th paragraph of the story, as David Sirota points out in his excellent slice-and-dice of the misrepresentation of Murtha's proposal by both the media and those in Congress opposing Murtha.
Luckily, the American people are reaching their own conclusions.
According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, the public is coming out in favor of Murtha's plan. When asked "Would you support or oppose Congress trying to block Bush's plan by creating new rules on troop training and rest time that would limit the number of troops available for duty in Iraq?" 58 percent said they would support such efforts while 39 percent were opposed.
And 67 percent say they oppose sending more troops to Iraq. Escalation is a foolish strategy and the American people know it. They want out -- and Jack Murtha's approach is providing a way of getting us out that keeps the safety of our troops front and center.
When asked why Murtha decided to unveil his plan directly to the public via the web, Rep. Jim Moran, a Murtha ally, explained: "He doesn't trust the way the media filters what he says and does." Gee, I wonder why.