Jack Murtha, the maestro of imposing personal preferences on the appropriations process, looks increasingly like an embarrassment to Congress and the Democratic Party. But there is no Democratic will to curb Murtha, one of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's closest associates. Nor are Republicans eager for a crackdown endangering their own earmarkers.
So far as I can tell, Jack Murtha's sole redeeming feature is his military credibility as an opponent of the Iraq War. For that, he deserves both kudos and appreciation.
But this old style pol otherwise exemplifies everything wrong with get along, go along politics as usual, especially on the ethics front. Having nearly been elected House majority leader with Speaker Pelosi's strong support, he is, as Novak suggests (even broken clocks are right twice a day) an acute embarrassment to the Democrats' ethics platform in the last election, and, with the cave-in on funding for the War, a threat to the Party's credibility with its own supporters, not to speak of the wider American public.
It is worth remembering that however critical one may be (and I am) of Newt's 1994 contract on America, the Democratic Congressional majority of the time was corrupt and largely ineffectual (think of its fragmented and disastrous performance on health care reform), and richly deserved to lose, as it did, "big time." Too bad there wasn't a better opponent to take charge. (Ralph, where were you then, when we needed you? Actually, if memory serves, Nader was speaking out...)
Bottom line: Dems, get your act together, and keep your promises to your supporters and the American people! No more politics as usual. Leadership should lead, not be complicit. Insist that Murtha, and other opponents of meaningful political reform, start to behave themselves-- maybe for the first time in their careers.
The Wise Bard does not hew any party line.