The Murtha Myth

The dust continues to settle on last weeks kerfuffle over Representative Murtha’s demand for an immmediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. But one of the most peculiar aspects is that many commentators on the anti-war side of the fence seem to be convinced that Murtha didn’t actually call for an immediate redeployment, and that any statement to that effect is simply a Republican smear tactic.
For example, here’s Libertine at TPMCafe:
Representative John Murtha, a decorated veteran of two wars and a very reasoned voice on foreign policy, had questioned the president’s wisdom in our Iraq policy. What happened next is shameful. The republicans introduced a bill by Duncan Hunter that cynically called for just an immediate withdrawl without discussing the what our exit strategy should entail. They tried to misrepresent what Murtha was requesting we do, which is to have serious bi-partisan debate of our Iraq policy.
And the Seattle P-I’s editorial board:
…more cynical was Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert’s maneuver to ram a bill to the floor calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops — not what Murtha had proposed at all.
Really?
Let Representative Murtha speak for himself. From the text of his speech on his web site:
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.
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.

Emphasis mine — except the last phrase in all caps, which is as you see it on Murtha’s web site
Which part of “immediately redeploy” are we misunderstanding? And to Libertine: it’s nice that you think that Murtha’s goal was to have a “serious bi-partisan debate of our Iraq policy.” But if that was the case, why didn’t he, er, say that?
He seems pretty darned clear on the whole “immediately” and “bring them home” part — you will note his closing line does not read “IT IS TIME TO HAVE A SERIOUS BI-PARTISAN DEBATE ON BRINGING THEM HOME.”
Revisionism, indeed….
PS: Yes, I’ve seen the text of Murtha’s actual resolution. It doesn’t say anything about a debate either.
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