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Early last week it was reported that Rep. John Murtha hoped to attach provisions to an upcoming spending bill that would restrict the Pentagon's ability to send additional troops to Iraq.  And four days later, on February 14th,  we learned that:

On Thursday, Rep. John Murtha...is expected to spell out a strategy that would link any deployment of troops in Iraq to their readiness status.

And on that same day from The Politico, we first heard the phrase, "a slow-bleed."

Top House Democrats, working in concert with anti-war groups, have decided against using congressional power to force a quick end to U.S. involvement in Iraq, and instead will pursue a slow-bleed strategy designed to gradually limit the administration's options.

It was immediately picked up by The Weekly Standard, U.S. News & World Report, the National Review Online and the Wall Street Journal, among others.  And in the days that followed, the "slow-bleed" line has been used by everyone from House Minority Leader John Boehner, to Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, to White House spokesman Tony Snow, who prefaced it with the ever-handy, "some say."  But apparently that line isn't having the desired effect, because now the long knives have come out and the smear of John Murtha is officially on.

Robert Novak:

...Murtha has shaped party policy that would cripple Bush's Iraq troop surge by placing conditions on funding.  That represents the most daring congressional attempt to micromanage ongoing armed hostilities since the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War challenged President Abraham Lincoln.  [...]

It seems all but certain that Democrats will pass what Murtha frankly calls an attempt to prevent funding of the surge. Improbable though it may seem, blunt and brassy Jack Murtha is moving close to command over U.S. policy on Iraq.

The Beltway Boys:

And this Murtha resolution is clever in that it pretends to be pro-troops and anti-war, in reality would deny troops that are already in the field fighting for their lives the reinforcements they need in order to survive and possibly win.

Investor's Business Daily:

The party of John Murtha shamelessly seeks to defund and defeat U.S. troops on the battlefield and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Congress the terrorists wanted is doing their bidding.

Now it's the House of Representatives' turn, led by Rep. John Murtha, who believes the fine young men and women we send to defeat terror and our sworn enemies are cold-blooded killers.

We find it scary that the Democratic and terrorist game plans are indistinguishable.

The Journal Edition Report:

John Murtha is talking about two in particular, which could be very damaging. He's talking about limiting National Guard deployments, and he's talking about putting, quote, unquote, "readiness requirements" on the troops--i.e., if they are not outfitted with the latest armor kit, they can't go over. Well, if that's taken seriously, it going to make it almost impossible for the president to prosecute the war. And he's going to have to get serious about asserting his constitutional authority to disregard those kinds of conditions.

Brit Hume:

That sound bite from John Murtha suggests that it’s time a few things be said about him...Look, this man has tremendous cache among House Democrats, but he is not — this guy is long past the day when he had anything but the foggiest awareness of what the heck is going on in the world.

Just a few out many possible examples, and what have we learned?  That John Murtha is crippling the war effort, that he is anti-troop and will cost men and women their lives, that he is in league with terrorists, that he is creating a Constitutional crisis and he's senile.  And what exactly is Murtha suggesting that has brought on this all out smear campaign?

The legislation I'm putting together, first of all, puts restrictions on the President, on the administration, saying you can't send people back into battle until they've had a year at home.  Now they should traditionally have two years at home...They must have the equipment and the training and they must be certified by the Chiefs of the various services before they can go back.  Second, we can't extend people.  Now if they can't extend people, if they can't send people back that don't have equipment and so forth, they can't continue the surge is what it amounts to.  [...]

What I've found in readiness hearings we're having, I found that in the United States, we only have 3/4 of the units that are prepared with the equipment they need and they're not training on the equipment...If they don't train on equipment, if they don't train on their radios, the armored Humvees, there's different feel to them.  There's more chance of accidents, there's more chance of vulnerability to enemies, so they need to train on that equipment and then take it with them...They're going to have to certify to us that they are ready and they're going to have to stop the extensions.

This potential legislation terrifies the Republicans.  They face having to vote against ensuring that our troops are properly trained and equipped before they are sent into battle in Iraq.  And after four years of the Republicans looking the other way while the administration over-extended our military, they know that it can't be done. Finally facing the possibility of acting in the best interest of the men and women of our military rather than continuing with their empty, mewling platitudes about supporting the troops, they attack.  And the target is squarely on John Murtha's back.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Feb 19, 2007 at 01:27 AM PST.

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