Something very important for the Democrats and Progressives happened this morning in the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
We fought back.
As I noted in my post yesterday, this week has been full of activity in Pennslyvannia, for and against Representative John Murtha - a decorated veteran and a man who has done as much for the troops and veterans of this country than anybody.
But unlike 2000, when John McCain was swift-boated. Unlike 2002, when Max Cleland suffered the same fate and unlike 2004, when the Kerry Campaign was slow to react to the lies and distortions of his record by the not-so-Swifties, this time, not only did we fire the first shot, but we also we fired louder and stronger.
Led by Max Cleland, a press conference was held at 10:30 this morning when Max, Fighting Democrat Eric Massa and Mike Lyon, Executive Director of The Patriot Project, denounced the so-called "Vietnam Veterans For Truth" for what they truly are, Swift Boating Wannabees, who are trying to use John Murtha's thoughtful and correct I might add, criticism of the administration's conduct in Iraq against him - not in a discussion of policy but in an out and out strategy of personal destruction.
Then it was the turn of the other folks to hold their press conference on the same street and a funny thing happened on the way to John Murtha's crucifixion by the neo-nuts.
Our press conference outdrew their's by 10 - 1. People came from all around the state and the region to stand up and say, "we've had enough." People are finally starting to see that this is nothing more than "same people, same tactics, same strategy, different candidate." It's about time.
But today's victory is not the end of the story, it is the beginning of what will be an increasingly bitter battle that will be fought over the coming months, through this election and right into 2008. But we will be ready. We will be ready for them in November when John O'Neill leds the rally against John Murtha (providing, of course, the leadership group for the VVFT can come up with Mr. O'Neill's "expenses.") We will be ready for them when Curt Weldon criticizes Admiral Joe Sestak again. We get ready for them all across the country and we will fight.
But here's a final sobering thought. Where is hell was the Democratic Party today?
To paraphrase a young John Kerry, where are our leaders? Did Howard Dean and the DNC step up and defend Jack Murtha? No. Did Nancy Pelosi utter a peep? Not one. Where are John Murtha's colleagues in the House on this? They love when he comes to their town and raises money for them. But stand by his side, perish the thought.
After all, isn't John Murtha actually standing up and advocating the withdrawal that all Democrats united behind in the letter to the President they trumped? It's easy to do a press conference in Washington but John Murtha is taking the flak - the others are taking the credit.
And speaking of that, remember when John Kerry stood up and spoke for a withdrawal from Iraq? Demanded a timetable? Who criticized him? The same inside-the-beltway geniuses who sent the letter demanding the withdrawal. No wonder our party is such as mess.
But today, there was a glimmer of light. And like virtually all of the positive developments on the Democratic side, it didn't happen on street corner in DC but on a street in Pennslyvannia where real Democrats stood up for a real war hero, and the country will be a better place for it.