Monday, November 21, 2005

What Happened on the House Floor.......the Cameras Didn't Catch?

Democrats on the House floor erupted into a frenzy after Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-OH stated her outrageous comments, "He asked me to send Congress a message--stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message--that cowards cut and run marines never do" Murtha is a 37 year Marine veteran, a war hero and ranking member on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Democrats booed and shouted Schmidt down, bringing the House to a virtual standstill.

Dozens erupted at once, pointing angrily at Schmidt demanding her "words be taken down"--a House rule for retracting a statement.

Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass. yelled, "You guys are pathetic, pathetic, pathetic!"

Rep. David Obey, D-WI, physically restrained Rep. Harold Ford, D-TN., who appeared as if he would loose control of himself as he rushed across the aisle to confront the Republicans, jabbing his finger at them. They accused Republicans of playing "political games" with the war.

Rep. Ford, who is usually a calming voice, charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming, that the Republicans were making, "uncalled-for personal attacks." Ford shouted "Say Murtha's name! Say Murtha's name!"

Rep. Obey who was a loud voice chanting for Rep. Schmidt's comments be stricken from the record, gently pulled Ford back to the Democrats side of the aisle. Obey called the resolution, "A cheap political stunt,that mocks the sacrifice of every man and woman serving in Iraq." Obey shouted to Republicans, "How dare you? [This] is nothing except an effort to drive a stake through the heart of the Murtha resolution, without any effort to get to the heart of the truth about the facts in Iraq."

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. said, "This personal attack on one of the best members of this House is outrageous!"

"It's just heinous!," Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-CA said of the Republican move.

Those who have been on Capitol Hill for years, called the exchange amongst the 'wildest and most emotional they have ever seen."

At 5:31pm, order was finally restored, when Schmidt rose again and said, her voice quivering softly, "My words were not directed at any member of the House......" She then asked her words be withdrawn, after she was properly chastised, like a male lion does to a rambunctious young lioness, by her Republican colleagues on the ethics or her lack of them, of the House of Representatives, being she is a freshman Congresswoman.

Rep. John Murtha got a standing ovation from the Democrats when he entered the chamber and took his customary corner seat,walking straight and tall as ever, even in the midst of this heated battle. So what was this about Rep. Murtha, and "cut and run?"

Murtha has proposed his resolution that would force Mr.Bush to withdraw the nearly 160,000 troops in Iraq. "At the earliest practicable date." It would establish a "quick reaction force", and "a nearby presense of Marines in the region, possibly Kuwait" It also said the United States must,"pursue stability in Iraq through diplomacy, the war cannot be won militarily alone."

The Republican alternative authored by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, says "It is the sense of the House of Representatives that deployment of the United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

Three Democrats voted "Yes" on the Hunter resolution, Rep. Jose Serrano,NY ,Rep. Robert Wexler, FL, and Rep. Cynthia McKinney, GA,. The vote in the House was 403-3

Rep. Ford later explained, "I said, if you believe it's about Murtha, then talk about Murtha, don't hide behind a resolution."

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., commented on the Murtha incident, "I won't stand for the [swiftboating] of Jack Murtha."
Also a Vietnam veteran, Kerry was dogged during the 2004 Presidential campaign by a group called Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, that challenged his war record. Kerry also said, "There is no sterner stuff than the backbone and courage that defines Jack Murtha's character and conscience."

For his part, Kerry has proposed a phase exit from Iraq, starting with the withdrawal of 20,000 troops from Iraq after the elections in December.

Sen. John Warner, R-VA. had to add his 2 cents into the frey. He is Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. he said, "Today's debate in the House shows the need for bipartisanship on the war in Iraq instead of the political posturing."

The Senate a few days earlier performed what could be viewed as their own 'political stunt",when the Republicans hijacked a Democrat amendment to a Defense bill, written by Carl Levin, D-MI. and a number of others calling for the administration to devise a plan for US troop deployment and to report on the progress to Congress on a quarterly basis.

All in all, the heated rhetoric, the name-calling, hurt feelings and partisan bashing has stooped to a new low; a war is being faught alright, but the battlefield is not Iraq, it's here at home.

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