Last Friday Murtha announced with great fanfare that he would run for Democrat Majority leader:
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Representative John Murtha, a Vietnam War veteran who has called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, said he plans to run for majority leader if Democrats win control of the House in the November elections.
Murtha, 73, sent a two-sentence letter to all House Democrats today stating his interest in the post, said his spokeswoman, Cindy Abram.
(Interesting he forgot to add "if he wins his OWN election").
Now, his sudden interest in a leadership post after all these years raised some questions, which he sought to answer in this local Pennsylvania Paper:
Immediately, speculation began to arise about whether Murtha’s recent foray into the spotlight was a calculated strategy aimed at improving his political standing. While attending the official opening of Gamesa Inc.’s Fiberblade plant in Cambria Township on Monday, Murtha dismissed the critical speculation as being off target.
“I decided I needed to step up because a lot of Democrats were sitting on the fence regarding the war,” Murtha said. “We needed to show the country that something had to be done. We needed to show the country that there are two positions on this issue: President Bush’s and mine.”
Murtha said announcing his intentions to run for House majority leader was a difficult one. He said he enjoys his current position of ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
Of course there are more than two positions on the issue. And assuming he wins his own race, I hope he enjoys his current position.
Anyway, four days later he (or more accurately, he as directed by Nancy Pelosi) was singing a different tune:
WASHINGTON Jun 13, 2006 (AP)— Rep. John Murtha, a candidate for House majority leader if the Democrats oust the Republicans from power in November, said Tuesday will not actively campaign for that post until after the elections.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Murtha was suspending his campaign "in the spirit of unity to achieve our goal of winning a Democratic majority in November."
At least Pelosi told the truth -- The Democrats goal is NOT about what is good for the country, it's not what they will do to make things better, improve our security, win the war on terrorism, or solve the budget problems. It's winning a Democratic majority.
His opponent in Pa, Diana Irey, had a good guess at what may have prompted Pelosi to put the kibosh on Murtha's run for leadership:
“Jack Murtha’s decision to suspend his campaign for House Majority Leader – curiously, announced by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, rather than by Mr. Murtha himself – is just one more example that he is out of touch and in need of retirement from active duty in the Congress.
“Just as he demonstrated that he’s got an itchy trigger finger with his reckless pre-judging of U.S. Marines at Haditha – acting as prosecutor, judge, and jury and convicting them of ‘killing innocent civilians in cold blood’ before any charges had been filed, before any court martial had been convened, before a single Marine had been convicted – this latest episode, in which he announced a campaign for House Majority Leader (an office the Democratic Party doesn’t currently hold) on Friday afternoon, and then, 96 hours later, abandons the effort, leads one to wonder what in the world is going through his head
“Of course, maybe it wasn’t what was going through Mr. Murtha’s head, but what was going through Mrs. Pelosi’s head – to wit: In a year when she had planned to make corruption a key campaign theme, it’s possible she just decided that having a man whose thumbnail bio includes the words ‘Abscam unindicted co-conspirator’ running for a leadership position probably wasn’t such a good idea.
“Perhaps it’s not the Marines who are ‘overstressed,’ to use Mr. Murtha’s word. Jack Murtha has lost his way, and obviously needs a good vacation. It’s time to retire him from active duty in the Congress.”
I disagreed with Diana's press release on one point. Where she said "before a single Marine had been convicted", I would have said "before a single Marine has had his day in court".
Anyway, I think John Murtha has just learned the hard way what the Democrat party generally thinks of him, dragging him out when they need cover on national security, but not wanting to give him real power.