WASHINGTON – House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday embraced a call by a prominent member of her rank-and-file to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, two weeks after she declined to endorse it.
“We should follow the lead of Congressman John Murtha, who has put forth a plan to make American safer, to make our military stronger and to make Iraq more stable,” Pelosi said. “That is what the American people and our troops deserve.”
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., accused Pelosi of playing politics with the war. “This war and the safety of the American people is simply too important for flip-flopping or indecision. We cannot afford to retreat,” he said in a statement.
Republicans have criticized Murtha’s plan as one of “cutting and running.”
Pelosi, D-Calif., said she wouldn’t call for a party caucus position on the plan by the Pennsylvania Democrat because “a vote on the war is an individual vote.”
Nevertheless, she said, “I believe that a majority of our caucus clearly supports Mr. Murtha.”
Two weeks ago, Murtha called for U.S. troops to begin returning home and said a complete pullout could be achieved in six months. He introduced a resolution in the House that would force the president to withdraw the 160,000 troops “at the earliest practicable date.”
Murtha, a Vietnam combat veteran and Marine, voted in 2002 to give President Bush the authority to go to war. He has been a strong supporter of the military and an influential voice on defense issues during his three-decade House career — and his position switch set off a firestorm on Capitol Hill.
At the time, Pelosi emphasized that Murtha spoke only for himself, and not for her or the Democratic caucus.
That last bit of emphasis mine. Which leads me to what I’m sure is a stupid question, but let’s throw it out there anyway, see if the cat won’t lick it up.
WHY THE HELL WASN’T NANCY SPEAKING FOR ALL HOUSE DEMS?
She’s the Leader, ain’t she? And a vote to endorse the war wasn’t a personal vote for Republicans. A vote to endorse the president, his non-plan plan, his breakfast cereal or the way he combs his hair, those aren’t personal, individual, search-your-heart-and-tell-me-what-truly-matters-to-you votes. No. They’re you’re-either-with-us-or-you-suck-terrorist-cock votes. Which is why the Republicans have, for good or ill, managed to stick together on this issue.
Besides which, this isn’t a vote to endorse the war. It’s a vote to say what a MAJORITY OF THE COUNTRY is saying, which is that regardless of what course we’re staying or what job the preznit thinks we’re doing, we, the American people, are sick of fapping around over there with no clear goals, no serious muscle behind those goals, and no end in sight. We want them home. Most people I know with service members in their families want their loved ones home yesterday, forget immediately.
So look. Why can’t Nancy get everybody in a conference room. Take a weekend. Go on a Democratic retreat, hammer out a position, and make everybody stick to it? Why can’t there ever be any kind of Democratic stand-taking on this issue without a thousand “only in the event of two blue moons in a row on opposite Thursdays” caveats and dodges and acknowledgments that some believe the earth is flat and that’s okay because we don’t want to upset the kids on the short bus?
And here’s what Nancy ought to say to anybody in her caucus and anybody in Harry’s with any kind of presidential ambitions: “Listen up, bitches. You want to be preznit? Fine. But until the day you take the oath, I own your ass. And I know what you don’t, which is that a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate in 2006 bodes better for a Democratic President in 2008. We have a thousand things to do, bitches, and we’re on number eight, and your personal dreams and wishes are number 867. You elected me leader, you’ll do what I say, and if you don’t, watch me distribute Polaroids of you and that cutie in the mail room to every tabloid that’ll take me to dinner. Capisce?”
Because look, voters by and large don’t pay a lot of attention. We can’t expect them to sift through every position paper. Nancy has a good start here, a good strong statement. Now what she needs to do is make everybody else fall in line.