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Dreher on Murtha’s Withdrawal Speech

Don’t know how many of you caught Rep. John Murtha‘s very angry, very moving speech just now in which he called on the White House to institute an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. CNN didn’t air the entire thing, but as I listened to it, I could feel the ground shift. Murtha, as you know, is not a Pelosi-style Chardonnay Democrat; he’s a crusty retired career Marine who reminds me of the kinds of beer-slugging Democrats we used to have before the cultural left took over the party. Murtha, a conservative Dem who voted for the war, talked in detail about the sacrifices being borne by our soldiers and their families, and about his visits out to Walter Reed to look after the maimed, and how we’ve had enough, it’s time to come home. He was hell on the president too.

If tough, non-effete guys like Murtha are willing to go this far, and can make the case in ways that Red America can relate to — and listening to him talk was like listening to my dad, who’s about the same age, and his hunting buddies — then the president is in big trouble. I’m sure there’s going to be an anti-Murtha pile-on in the conservative blogosphere, but from where I sit, conservatives would be fools not to take this man seriously. ~Rod Dreher, The Corner

If I had a dime for every time I have used the qualification, “conservatives would be fools not to…,” I would be off with Taki in Gstaad. Of course conservatives won’t take him seriously! By conservative, I assume Mr. Dreher means the sorts of people who would be angered by Rep. Murtha’s withdrawal speech. First, he is a Democrat, which to the true believers makes anything he has to say meaningless. Second, he is turning against the war, which is a “weak” thing to do, and “conservatives” do not like this sort of “weak” politician. They will fail to take Rep. Murtha seriously for the same reason that they have not taken Sen. Chuck Hagel, Gen. William Odom or Col. Lawrence Wilkerson seriously: for the advocates of the war, it is axiomatic that to be against this war is to be, by definition, unserious, irresponsible and whatever other dismissive descriptions Mr. Bush’s speechwriters have fed him (and, by extension, his loyal followers) today. Update: Kathryn Jean Lopez delivers her dismissive response with a minimum of effort.

All that being said, they really should take the speech seriously. Rep. Murtha’s speech is a basically sound one. Mr. Dreher said that it was a “very angry” speech, but however it was delivered it reads like a sober policy proposal with far more concrete, realistic goals than the last fifty of Mr. Bush’s speeches combined.

Rep. Murtha’s concluding remarks are these:

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

Obviously, he wants to undermine the military and sap morale. At least, that is what our warblogger friends would say. It couldn’t possibly be that the war is a colossal waste and an assault on our military. I’m sure that would be a crazy thing to say.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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