Democratic Congressman John Mutha (a decorated war hero himself) has come out as saying that U.S. troops need to be immediately withdrawn from Iraq. Leaving aside the merits (or lack thereof) of such an idea look at this response from the Administration:
A statement issued by the White House as Bush was traveling in Asia described Murtha as "a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America." It continued: "So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists."
Notice a couple of key points here:
1. Invoking Michael Moore. Moore has nothing to do with this; Murtha never mentioned him and Moore (to the best of my knowledge) has not weighed in on Murtha’s comments (though I’m sure he supports them). However, guilt by association is in full effect. Moore, except among diehard Democrats, is regarded at best as somewhat extreme and at worst as a wacko. They’re trying to equate Murtha and Moore and thus discredit Murtha as just another anti-Bush wacko.
2. Invoking the "extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party". Murtha has been about as far from the left as you can get in the Democratic party, at least on defense issues. But again, by trying to paint him with the same brush they are hoping his constituents start to see him that way. Once again — paint him as an extremist wacko and his opinions are thus worthless.
3. "baffling": Conservatives are always incredulous that anybody would disagree with them. Especially somebody so "respected" who has "a record of supporting a strong America." It’s "baffling" that somebody "respected" and who supports "a strong America" would take this position. Because, of course, nobody worthy of respect would possibly advocate such an idea. Why does John Murtha suddenly hate America so?
4. "historic democratic election." What a wonderful thing! Who could oppose that? Can’t you just hear the marching bands tuning up? God bless America! Historic! Democratic! Election! Amber waves of grain! Not sure how the administration forgot to get the word "freedom" in there somehow, but maybe the quote is incomplete. Now if only we could convince the Iraqis to play a game of baseball WHILE they vote…
5. "surrender to the terrorists." Bingo. Murtha, a decorated war veteran who has consistently supported the military and has been one of the staunchest supporters of the war on terror (at least in the Democratic party; faint praise I realize) is now just another lilly-livered, sissy-boy and probably a communist too. He wants us to "surrender to the terrorists." Is he French by any chance?
And there you have it. The administration’s spin machine in mid-season form. A moderate Democrat disagrees with the president and suddenly he’s an extreme left-wing wacko who opposes democracy and wants to surrender to the terrorists. And the beauty of it is that they are fairly subtle about the way they paint it.
If Murtha persists in making public statements calling for the troops to come home immediately don’t be surprised if there are stunning revelations about his gay daughter or that his son is an undercover air marshal or something. Unless something has been learned from the Plame case?
At least they didn’t suggest that he made Hillary abort their love child. Not yet anyhow.