I had the chance to meet with Rep. John Murtha at a gathering of about 100 people Sunday afternoon over at Arianna Huffington's house. I first became aware of Murtha when he came out with a powerful message recently to try and end the conflict in Iraq. He had a clear-cut plan and a vision of what America should do in Iraq and he called for the immediate implementation of this plan. Of course, he quickly became a target as the GOP sent out their newly elected hatchet man Jean Schmidt of Ohio to do their dirty work. She labeled him a coward and a cut-and-run artist, paving the way for second rate hacks to pile on a barrage of lies and distortions about the case he made to get us out of this tragic war. A fledgling swiftboat attack began but was quelled immediately by the Internet as the perpetrators turned out to be liars from the get-go.
John is a towering man; over six feet tall, he hovered over the crowd with a quiet calm that resonated deeply within the group. He spoke for a few minutes with a passion and clarity that was mesmerizing. What is clear and very dear to him is not that he held the spotlight for the moment, but rather his message. His words came from his heart, a tribute to the troops he visits regularly at Walter Reed as well as the military that considers him a great friend and ally. He knew he would be criticized by this administration because several top ranking military men told him what was coming. He didn't care because he knew what he said needed to be heard.
After serving our country for many decades, John Murtha has never seen an administration run quite like this one is. An administration that is so unwilling to reach across the aisle and come to some sort of a common ground. He talked about Bush 41, his knowledge of foreign policy and how his interactions with the Democrats paved the way for many fair outcomes. What surprised me was that he couldn't understand how his original words back in November struck such a chord with the American people. I told him it was not so surprising to understand. When a man is so committed and honest in his beliefs while speaking with a fire that burns from desperation many a naysayer becomes persuaded.
John Murtha is the embodiment of what the term a "true patriot" is and one that the jingoist right wingers have tried to hijack from the American people. These are the people who would have you believe that if you criticize this president and the war then you hate America. Not so with John Murtha. He is succinct and to the point in his convictions and conclusions, something that cannot be measured by polls or diminished by empty rhetoric. It can't be tarnished by any right-wing ideologue hell bent on protecting this administration while abdicating responsibility for the real problems this country faces. His message can't be altered because purity of spirit is untouchable.
John Murtha is the real deal.
(John Amato is your host over at Crooksandliars.com)