Friday, June 23, 2006

Memories of Murtha

For many people my age, Representative John Murtha (D-Okinawa) burst onto the political scene for the first time in late 2005, when he broke from the House wallflowers and became a very vocal critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. Many in the MSM bestowed upon Murtha instant credibility, citing his decades of military experience. While I strongly disagreed with Murtha, I confess that I really knew almost nothing about him.

Thank God for small reminders. I was paging through Charlie Wilson's War, George Crile's excellent book documenting former Representative Charles Wilson's (D-Tex.) efforts to support the mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when I was reminded that soon-to-be-beatified Murtha was one of the key targets of the ABSCAM investigation. ABSCAM, you may recall, was a long-term investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1980 that used a phony Arab sheikh to expose corrupt congressmen. A bipartisan (but predominantly Democrat) handful of congressmen were caught on videotape accepting cash bribes; some of them were eventually convicted in federal court and expelled from Congress for their corrupt behavior.

Murtha ultimately escaped prosecution. Why? Crile and others point out that Murtha was captured on videotape rejecting the offered bribe but being quite explicit in his request to have the offer kept open. Crile credits Wilson and then-House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill for mounting a defensive effort that ultimately spared Murtha the fate of his colleagues, but the ABSCAM video nonetheless made it clear that Murtha was very much open to the idea of pay-to-play.

There is more. Paul over at Power Line points out how Murtha's shadiness continues to this day, MSM adulation notwithstanding. His assessment of Murtha's current questionable conduct can be found here.

Murtha's darling status may be fading, as each day brings with it new information that tarnishes his golden sheen. The more we learn, the less credible he becomes -- and the more he does damage to Nancy Pelosi's dreams of speakerhood.

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