Monday, January 16, 2006

The Swift Boating of John Murtha

Sadly, one of the biggest stories over the weekend was the rejuvenation of the Swift Boating of Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) for the unpardonable sin of speaking out against the Bush administration's incompetent conduct in the Iraq war.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that a conservative web site had picked up with Murtha this year, where the Swift Boat Liars left off with Senator John Kerry in 2004, including questioning the circumstances in Vietnam that led to Murtha's two Purple Hearts.

The GOP scumbag du jour is David Thibault, editor in chief of the Cybercast News Service, who is at least up front in saying that the issue of Murtha's Vietnam war medals is relevant now "because the congressman has really put himself in the forefront of the antiwar movement."

It may not be honorable, but at least it's honest -- question Bush and the war, have your patriotism smeared.

Cybercast, which is part of the ultra-conservative Media Research Center, has been promoting a slime trail that – tell me if
this one doesn't sound familiar – involves questioning the seriousness of Murtha's war injuries and the extent to which they were worthy of the Purple Heart awards.

Here's a definition straight from the Military Order of the Purple Heart:
"The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration."
The severity of the recipient's injury has nothing whatsoever to do with the "legitimacy" of the award. The Purple Heart may be awarded for any wound sustained at the hands of an enemy or hostile foreign force or even from "friendly fire" within the scope of battling against such an enemy.

The scummy and disingenuous claims against combat Vets like Murtha and Kerry – and, thus, against every Veteran who has ever received the decoration – also ignores the cruel reality that the consequence of a battle wound is often a function of pure luck. A scratch on the neck received in battle can leave you fit enough to have a beer with your buddies that night, or dead from blood loss if an artery is severed.

In addition, anyone who has ever been in armed conflict knows that the physical wounds sometimes pale in comparison to the lasting psychological effects and I, along with many other Veterans, believe the Purple Heart should be awarded simply for that longer-lasting, mental legacy of battle.

So what then is the point of these asinine and gutless attacks? We know the answer to that one by now -- to smear any Democratic Veteran who speaks out against this war or this administration.

Congressman Murtha responded calmly on Friday in a Huffington Post column that simply said: "Questions about my record are clearly an attempt to distract attention from the real issue, which is that our brave men and women in uniform are dying and being injured every day in the middle of a civil war that can be resolved only by the Iraqis themselves. I volunteered for a year's duty in Vietnam. I was out in the field almost every single day. We took heavy casualties in my regiment the year that I was there. In my fitness reports, I was rated No. 1. My record is clear."

Writer Murray Waas also takes dead aim at the Washington Post itself for even giving a drop of ink to cretins like the Cybercast crew, correctly pointing out that the charges are third-hand at best, wholly unconfirmed and reported by a disreputable "news service."

"So if I understand this correctly, regarding the purported allegations by the late Rep. Saylor that Rep. Murtha did not deserve his Purple Hearts, the Washington Post is relying on the reporting of the Cybercast News Service, which is in turn relying on comments made years ago by Harry Fox, who is in turn quoting the late Congressman Saylor -- who died all the way back in 1973," wrote Waas. "The Post should have done a much better job of making this clear in their story -- in my humble opinion -- if they should have even published a story at all."

No freakin' kidding.

Better yet, let's just make a simple rule for this stuff. Conservatives aren't allowed to even broach the subject of a Democratic Vet's war decorations unless they've served in the military themselves. That qualifier alone will knock most of them out of the ballgame. In addition, they must also be willing to address why their indignation and fake patriotism doesn't extend to the demonstrably-AWOL coward occupying the White House today.

That would bring a stop to this nonsense for good.