Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Peace in Our Time

Speaker-Elect Nancy al Pelosi

Majority-Leader to be Muqtada al Murtha

. Sometimes you just have to marvel at how short-sighted the political analysis in this country is. Speaker-Elect Pelosi is already drawing fire from both the right and the left for her decision to back Representative Murtha for the position of House Majority Leader. These three excerpts from today's Opinion-Journal are illustrative:

...several [Democratic] members are privately aghast that Mr. Murtha, a pork-barreling opponent of most House ethics reforms, could become the second most visible symbol of the new Democratic rule. "We are supposed to change business as usual, not put the fox in charge of the henhouse," one Democratic member told me. "It's not just the Abscam scandal of the 1980s that he barely dodged, he's a disaster waiting to happen because of his current behavior," another told me...

Take the Abscam probe, in which Mr. Murtha was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the late-1970s FBI sting operation in which agents posed as Saudi sheiks and offered members of Congress bribes for help in securing asylum in the U.S. and getting money out of Saudi Arabia... The 54-minute Abscam tape shows Mr. Murtha functioning as a cynical backroom operator, telling the FBI undercover agents: "You know, you made an offer. It might be that I might change my mind someday." Later, he explained how that might happen: "I want to deal with you guys awhile before I make any transactions at all, period," he told the fake sheiks. "After we've done some business, well, then I might change my mind. I'm going to tell you this. If anybody can do it--I am not BSing you fellows--I can get it done my way. There's no question about it."

...a recent book by George Crile, a producer for CBS's "60 Minutes," provides damning evidence that Mr. Murtha escaped severe punishment for his role in the scandal only because then-Speaker Tip O'Neill arranged for the House Ethics Committee to drop the charges, over the objections of the committee's outside prosecutor. The prosecutor quickly resigned in protest.

Come on, people. Grow up. The mission of the new Congress is peace in our time: getting the troops home quickly in some kind of plausible, justifiable way that doesn't look like abject surrender. What kind of skills does that take? Obviously, it takes the ability to Make a Deal. And making a deal in the Arab world isn't accomplished by pollyanna-ish negotiations consisting of feeble altruistic overtures muslim gangsters can't even comprehend. If Maliki, the Iranians, the Syrians, and the various Iraqi sectarian blocs are ever going to be brought to heel, it's only going to be by playing hardball in the terms they understand: cold-blooded tit for tat "arrangements" that compromise and ensnare everybody to the point where they can't refuse. This is obviously Murtha's stock-in-trade.

Where else are we going to find somebody who was getting down to brass tacks with powerful (sort of) Arabs a full quarter-century ago? While most public figures were still too terrified about the downfall of the Shah to get involved in any middle-eastern shenanigans, Murtha alone displayed the appropriate combination of boldness and caution to explore opportunities without paying any significant political price. Who among you is contrary enough, or dumb enough, to argue that this isn't precisely the capability Congress is going to need in order to extricate the U.S. from its tiresome obligations in Iraq?

Think about it. If somebody has to finally sit down at a summit with the bastards in al Qaeda's leadership, who do you want it to be? A nerdy ivory-tower type from the state department? Or a cagey old, no-BS bargainer like John Murtha? It takes a tough man to tender terms in the middle east.

That Pelosi broad is a good deal shrewder than she looks. You heard it here first.

UPDATE. You'll find a good deal more information about Murtha's outstanding qualifications for congressional leadership at Michelle Malkin's blog. Just disregard her peevish tone.

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