The House on Friday overwhelmingly rejected calls for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, a vote engineered by the Republicans that was intended to fail. Democrats derided the vote as a political stunt.

“Our troops have become the enemy. We need to change direction in Iraq,” said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Democratic hawk whose call a day earlier for pulling out troops sparked a nasty, personal debate over the war.

The House voted 403-3 to reject a nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate troop withdrawal. ~ABC News

The language of this resolution was designed to maximise the advantage of war supporters and create a splash in the media that might suggest members of the House are virtually unanimous in opposing withdrawal. The result completely distorts the sentiment in the House and, more importantly, would represent a complete divorce from popular sentiment if it were accurate. A simple statement calling for “the deployment of United States forces (to) be terminated immediately” might be objected to on any number of grounds. It must be the case that more than three members of the House believe that the U.S. should leave Iraq, but none of these other opponents wanted to be on record voting for such an imprecise resolution.

Roll Call (subscription required) reports that the GOP is considering an ethics probe of Rep. Murtha, who began this latest fracas with his call for withdrawal from Iraq. How very convenient.

Importantly, in Murtha’s speech the other day his specific proposal was this: “To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces [emphasis added].” That is a world away from simply demanding immediate redeployment. With this little demonstration, the GOP House leadership has shown itself to be as small-minded and petty on a vital policy question as the whining President who believes it is fitting for a man in his position to sling accusations of dishonesty at those who have the temerity to question his incompetent leadership and deceitful public claims.