The Politico has a must-read analysis of the circumstances surrounding the John Murtha statement today that the surge is working in Iraq. Not only does John Bresnahan cover the multiple assertions this year that the Pentagon and White House were being dishonest in insisting on the surge’s success, it also quotes aides on the Hill stating that Murtha’s shift will damage the Democrats:
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), one of the leading anti-war voices in the House Democratic Caucus, is back from a trip to Iraq and he now says the “surge is working.” This could be a huge problem for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders, who are blocking approval of the full $200 billion being sought by President Bush for combat operations in Iraq in 2008.
Murtha’s latest comments are also a stark reversal from what he said earlier in the year. The Pennsylvania Democrat, who chairs the powerful Defense Subcommittee on the House Appropriations Committee, has previously stated that the surge “is not working” and the United States faced a military disaster in Iraq. …
But Pelosi, who is scheduled to speak to a Democratic National Committee event in Virginia on Friday, will surely face tough questions from reporters regarding Murtha’s statement on the surge.
“This could be a real headache for us,” said one top House Democratic aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Pelosi is going to be furious.”
Pelosi, readers will recall, aligns herself closely with Murtha. She had backed Murtha in a power play earlier, to her detriment when he lost. She has tied herself almost completely to his anti-war rhetoric, using his military experience as a shield for Democratic defeatism. His defection on the issue will leave her twisting in the wind.
It won’t do wonders for Murtha, either. Bresnahan points out four examples from this year alone when Murtha derided the administration for either dishonesty or incompetence in its insistence that the surge was working. He even berated the press during a “recent” conference, yelling at a reporter about the administration’s credibility. His own credibility — and by extension, the credibility of the entire Democratic caucus — has now been greatly diminished as a result.
The timing couldn’t possibly be worse. The Democrats want to torpedo the Iraq war supplemental and force the White House to agree to a withdrawal. Now Murtha says that he could foresee another two years of heavy engagement before withdrawing significant US forces, which matches in rough strokes the new security partnership agreement signed by Nouri al-Maliki and Bush this week. Their anti-war legislative position has now almost completely eroded, and Murtha has exposed Pelosi to another spectacular failure.