Monday, Dec. 25, 2006

John Murtha

A Lonely Voice That Became a Chorus
When John Murtha, one of the most hawkish members of either party in Congress and among the military's strongest supporters on Capitol Hill, choked back tears to declare in late 2005 that the "U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily, it's time to bring the troops home," the Pennsylvania Congressman was pilloried by Republicans as a "defeatist" and privately questioned by some of his Democratic colleagues who feared the statement was a political disaster. But by Election Day, it was clear that Murtha, 74, had connected with a U.S. public increasingly uneasy about the war. Throughout 2006, people cheered him as he walked through airports, and in Washington, his party began embracing his view and calling for the Administration to start withdrawing troops.

After they won control of the House, Democrats credited Murtha with helping turn the election into a referendum on the war. While his party — worried about ethics controversies in his past — rejected Murtha's attempt to become the No. 2 leader in the House, he'll remain a powerful voice calling for U.S. troops to leave Iraq as soon as possible.