Political Heroes

Which politicians would you most like to emulate?

I thought Bill Bradley was a real ideas politician, a political entrepreneur. The fact that he was dealing with healthcare in a really serious way. I like the way he was thinking about nuclear proliferation, I thought this was a man I could aspire to.

What about current officeholders?

Jack Murtha. I was proud of how he spoke up against the war.


(U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, a decorated Marine Corps Vietnam veteran who is among the most hawkish Democrats in Congress, said yesterday [Nov 17,2005] the United States should begin withdrawing troops from Iraq immediately.

" We have become a catalyst for violence," Mr. Murtha told a news conference. "Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further militarily. It is time to bring them home."

A dozen Republicans hastily put together a press conference where some accused Mr. Murtha, 73, and the Democratic Party of "waving a flag of surrender" and undermining U.S. troops.

Despite divisions over the war within the Democratic caucus, several Democrats said Mr. Murtha's position change could create a profound shift within their party, particularly among those who feared speaking out against the war.

In his announcement, Mr. Murtha said he had weighed the risks of an overstretched military, an "out of control" deficit and the situation on the ground in Iraq, which he believes is getting worse with each day. He noted only half of the $18 billion Congress allocated for Iraq's reconstruction has been spent and that unemployment in Iraq is above 40 percent. His many visits to Iraq, he said, had convinced him that Iraqis want U.S. soldiers to leave.

" Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically," Mr. Murtha said. "I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops is impeding this progress."

Mr. Murtha proposed withdrawing U.S. troops immediately -- a process he believes could be completed within six months -- and said the U.S. should continue its efforts to stabilize and secure Iraq diplomatically. The visible withdrawal of troops, he said, would assure Iraqis who will participate in elections in mid-December that their nation is "free from U.S. occupation."

He said the coalition forces should keep "a quick-reaction force" in the region and an "over-the-horizon presence" of Marines who could go back into Iraq in emergency situations.

Mr. Murtha, who is the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee on defense, was clearly anticipating the criticism that came within minutes of his announcement. Asked about President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney's contention that those who criticize the war efforts and the pre-war intelligence are irresponsible, Mr. Murtha had his own rapid-fire response.

" I like guys who've never been [in combat] that criticize us who've been there," he said.

" I like guys who got five deferments," Mr. Murtha said, referring to Mr. Cheney's five deferments during the Vietnam War, "and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.... Lashing out at critics doesn't help a bit. You've got to change the policy." )