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Profiles in Cowardice | The Nation

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Profiles in Cowardice

Back in November, after Jack Murtha shocked the political establishment by calling the Iraq war "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion," Congress rushed to vote on his resolution.

Murtha's proposal called for the redeployment of US forces "at the earliest predictable date" with an "over-the-horizon presence of US Marines" deployed in the region so the US could "pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy." But the House never got to vote on Murtha's resolution. Instead, Congressional Republicans rewrote it to read: "It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

It was a sham vote, pure and simple, that reached its climax when Republican Jean Schmidt called Murtha a "coward" on the House floor. "I thought the tone was a bit over-the-top," House Majority Leader John Boehner said later. "And frankly, I wasn't very comfortable with how it was done and some of the words that were used."

But now Boehner is pulling the same stunt today, urging Congress to "debate" on an incredibly slanted resolution while circulating talking points labeling Democrats as "weak," "dangerous" and ready to "concede defeat."

No wonder Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina, one of three Republicans who forced the debate in the first place, calls Boehner's move "nothing more or less than really a charade."

Republican Wayne Gilchrest, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star honoree, took it a step further. "While you were in combat, you had a sense of urgency to end the slaughter," Gilchrest told the Washington Post. "And around here we don't have the sense of urgency."

Most of Gilchrest's colleagues didn't want any debate in the first place. "When the country is war-weary, when the violence is still playing on TV, I don't know why we want to highlight all that," said Ray LaHood of Illinois.

When there's a festering problem, why provide a solution?

No, gay marriage, the estate tax, indecency fines and flag-burning take precedence. Congress today is a profile in cowardice, offering no hope for our troops, no answers for the American people and no future for Iraqis.

Jim Webb, the former Secretary of the Navy who's challenging George Allen for a Senate seat in Virginia, summed it up best. "They're sending other people's kids to war," Webb said of the Republican Congress. "They're allowing other people's kids to suffer from bad schools, outsourced jobs, crime-ridden neighborhoods, deflated futures, no health insurance. They've lost sight of why they should be in government in the first place."

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