Monday, November 13, 2006

Politics of the Reasonable


How does a former minority party assure the American public of it's centrist leanings?

Pick John Murtha to lead the new majority in the house.

That'll do it.

After all, it's not as if John Murtha has advocated for a complete troop redeployment to Okinawa. It's not as though he's supported the artificial imposition of timetables for troop withdrawal. It's not as though he opposed surveillance and security fence legislation.

Oh, wait. He did. All of it.

Yeah, that's a truly centrist position to take. I'm sure that most independent and swing voters, who may oppose the conduct of the war, want a complete abandonment of the Iraqis so our soldiers can occupy Okinawa. Right.

And even progressives have their difficulties with the man:
The choice of Murtha drew strong criticism today from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a legal watchdog group dedicated to fighting corruption among public officials. In a statement, the Washington-based group, which describes itself as a "progressive" counterweight to conservative watchdog groups, called Murtha "one of the most unethical members of Congress" and charged that Pelosi's endorsement of him raised questions about her own commitment to ethics reform.


In criticizing Murtha today, CREW noted that he was given a "dishonorable mention" in the group's list this year of "the 20 most corrupt members of Congress (and five to watch)." Murtha was listed among the "five to watch," the report said, for "abuse of his position as ranking member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee to benefit the lobbying firm of a former long-term staffer and clients of his brother, Robert 'Kit' Murtha, a registered lobbyist."

All but three of the 20 on the "most corrupt" list were Republicans, and Murtha was the only Democrat among the five "dishonorable mentions."

"Future House Speaker Pelosi's endorsement of Rep. Murtha, one of the most unethical members of Congress, shows that she may have prioritized ethics reform merely to win votes with no real commitment to changing the culture of corruption," Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said in today's statement. She called Murtha "the wrong choice for this job."
To which, his campaign responds:
Andrew Koneschusky, a spokesman for Murtha, declined to discuss ethics issues, saying instead, "We are focused on the future. We are focused on electing the best candidate to lead our party and deliver the change the American people want, and that is Jack Murtha. We are looking forward, not backward."
How heartening the the new boss is so different from the old boss.