So much for the most "influential Democrat" in the Congress. The House -- Democrats and Republicans -- handed Murtha (and the press) one of the most lopsided, humiliating defeats imaginable. The House vote for withdrawal: three in favor, 403 against. So much for that "growing" public demand for the removal of American troops. The headline should have been "Overwhelming House Majority Votes to Support Bush in Iraq."
But no. The next morning, the newspaper spin was bizarre. The New York Times headline was "Uproar in House as Parties Clash on Iraq Pullout." Uproar? The story by Eric Schmitt didn't get to the overwhelming majority vote until paragraph five. Schmitt considered it more important to highlight obscure newbie Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio, who relayed to Murtha a message from a soldier suggesting that "cowards cut and run, Marines don't," and how when, Democrats screamed and howled, Rep. Schmidt withdrew the implication that Murtha was a coward.
The Washington Post story by Charles Babington began with news of an "explosion of angry words and personal insults" over Jean Schmidt's remarks. The vote was then summarily dismissed in the third paragraph: "The Republican-proposed measure was rejected 403 to 3, a result that surprised no one."
Amazing. After glorifying the prestige and influence of the man whose idea for rapid withdrawal is absolutely crushed, reporters declare there was now nothing of interest -- of news -- here. Even more bizarre: Babington strangely insisted Murtha's plea for withdrawal nevertheless "struck a chord" in the party that wouldn't vote for it.
The whole experience inspired Howard Fineman to write an article titled "Bush at the Tipping Point." The "political center of gravity" shifted," and liberal hero Murtha, the "gruff, taciturn pasha," was tipping Bush over. The vote was meaningless, a "trap" made to make Democrats sound "as cravenly anti-war as possible."
No, the vote was designed to make anti-war Democrats put up or shut up. Final vote: Bush 403, Murtha 3. Now it's time for reporters to shut up, too.