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Thousands seek to sink Navy plan to name a ship for Democrat John Murtha

A San Antonio Class US Navy Ship

One thing the elected and appointed folks of Washington are extremely good at is honoring themselves and one another. It's just like Hollywood awards without the beauty and fame and glamor and grace and borrowed dresses and jewelry and red carpet and public interest. Other than that, it's the same.

Rooms, anterooms, passageways, legislation, proclamations, days, you-name-it, if it's big or doesn't move, it will get someone's name on it. Which is, of course, totally meaningless, but it keeps them from doing possibly worse things during their limited work hours.

So naturally Navy Secretary Ray Mabus waited only a few weeks after the death of Democrat pork barrel king Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania to announce that a new San Antonio class ship (see photo above) would be named for the Pennsylvania grump.

Longevity is king where seniority rules. And the 77-year-old Murtha lasted almost 18 terms, which is a long time worthy of keen admiration by the elected likes of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (only 11 terms so far), who called Murtha "our dear Jack."

As the former owner of a car wash in Johnstown, it's only natural that Murtha's name would go on a combat amphibious transport dock as the first not named for a city. Actually, what....

...Obama appointee Mabus likely had in mind was Murtha's several years in the  Marines. Murtha was, in fact, the first House member who served in combat in the Vietnam War, which was unfortunately lost. He received a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.

The keel-laying for the Murtha ship is still a year away, and it won't be doing anything worthwhile for three years after that.

But there's a problem. And it's growing. Back in 2005 as part of Murtha's late-breaking opposition to the Iraq war he was for before he was opposed, when a few fellow Marines were accused of killing some Iraqi civilians in Haditha, ex-Marine Murtha announced the soldiers had done it "in cold blood."

Democrat Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania, now dead

Never mind that there hadn't been a full investigation yet, let alone trials.

Despite Murtha's preemptive verdict, eventual charges against six Marines were dropped, one was acquitted and another awaits trial on reduced charges. Other than that, Murtha was bang-on.

Immediately after Mabus' announcement, a raging online controversy broke out even on the Navy's own website, where Murtha was accused of betrayal.

The honor was called inappropriate, "a slap in the face," an "absolute disgrace" and akin to naming a U.S. ship for Benedict Arnold.

Within two days, a Facebook page called "People Against Naming a Navy Ship USS Murtha" acquired some 1,300 followers. Friday morning membership had exploded beyond 6,860.

On one online site David Martin wrote:

There are many men and women with greater records of valor and service to the country who deserve the honor of having a warship named in their memory before John Murtha has a warship [named] in his honor. He made sure there was an airport named after himself. What more does there need to be?

Reality, of course, is that since Murtha was of Washingtonand ex-Mississippi governor Mabus is now too and Murtha's Democrat party still controls both houses of Congress, not to mention the White House and Navy Department, these protests are going to disappear beneath the waves faster than the Titanic.

The irony is that in addition to its 360 crew members, the  John P. Murtha will also transport 700 cold-blooded Marines.

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Newly-converted Democrat Arlen Specter skips Murtha funeral for Calif. money-raising

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: U.S. Navy; Associated Press (Murtha on a good day).

Comments () | Archives (18)

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The important thing here is that Murtha saw the signs...that the Iraqi conflict was just a waste of time. When Rep. Jean Schmitt, a Republican, lit into him for his opinion during the era of Dubya, many of us Americans heard schoolkid ranking and not a humble statement in opposition to someone who refused to back down, right to the end. And I'm not so sure the Marines are "cold-blooded" any more. They're flesh and blood, like the rest of us. The U.S. does more to defend allies from outside threats these days than it ever did when Bush resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Fewer than 7,000 people on a Facebook group is pretty much no one. One could also write that the Facebook group against SB1070 has about 800,000 members in less than a week, but that doesn't fit Andrew Malcolm's "no one likes Democrats" narrative.

While I did not agree with John Murtha's politics, I do feel his military service was VERY distinguished, that and decades of his support for his district are more than enough warrant having a ship named after him.

And the fact that he was involved (unindicted co-conspirator) in a bribery sting operation as a Congressman isn't mentioned here.

So now we name ships after people who are a disgrace to our country?

Let's see. Take the case of the 503 civilians that U.S. soldiers murdered at My Lai. The three American soldiers who tried to bring this massacre to the attention of authorities were denounced by Congressmen and received death threats. Only one soldier served time for My Lai, just a few months. It looks like Congressman John Murtha was going against a rich American tradition of mass murder and cover-up in the mission of "spreading freedom". Let the opponents of John Murtha put their own names on that infamous My Lai Memorial reserved for Americans who support mass murder and cover-ups. The rest of us will take pride in the new Navy ship.

I am not qualified to determine whether they should name a ship after Murtha. God help me if they ever decide to name a weapon of war after me.

But with regard to the comment about the Iraq war "he was for before he was opposed," give the man a break: that was virtually every single member of the House and Senate. And the vast majority of the Americna public. Bush railroaded us into that morass, and the country bought his lies about its connection to 9/11. Don't imply that Murtha was one of only a very few who changed positions on Iraq once those lies came to light. The whole country did that.

I'm glad to learn that acquital in a military court means innocence and that no-one died in Haditha because of errors by the marines. I'm intrigued to hear that Murtha was a traitor to his country on par with Benedict Arnold, and that he felt all marines were cold-blooded. Maybe we should call the ship the McVeigh, instead: he never disparaged the millitary and knew that the real traitors were in Washington.

This for a twerp that called my marines murders and never apologized. He was a mean, disgraceful jackass. He was dishonest, plundered my money for his elections and lied whenever he opened his filthy mouth. When he died, I celebrated.

I didn't have to read no further than the first sentence to "smell" that this was another right-wing rant by Andrew Malcolm. I wish The Times offered more disclosure that they are his slanted columns in order to save me the bother of clicking.

(AM responds: Hello again. Nice to have you back. And yet, oh look, you then scrolled all the way down to the bottom of the item and clicked four more times to make sure thousands of people knew you weren't reading what you didn't didn't really care about. Thanks again.)

Okay, I get it, you don't like the politics of John Murtha.
That being said, you did a masterful job of down playing and or dismissing his military record.
Murtha was on active duty in the Marines for Five years.
You forgot to mention that he was an officer, a Drill Instructor and that his Bronze Star included the 'Valor" designation.

But hey, why mention that, since "WE LOST" the Vietnam War, and it was obvisously the fault of guys that served in Vietnam, like John Murtha.

Nope, I have a better name for that ship, which I'm sure you will agree with,
The U.S.S. Richard Cheney.

18 terms, the bronze star, 2 purple hearts, blood sweat and tears shed (literally) in the Marines and in the House. He makes one comment (that I'm sure he wanted to take back) and you and a few noisemakers want to dispel all that this man has done for this great country. What he said about those soldiers may not have been right (we'll see, one trial is still pending) but who in there life has not said something they regret.

The reason he was opposed to the war in Iraq after once being for it(like most in the House and Senate) was because he was LIED to about WMD's and Saddam Hussein. He was angry, as he should have been. The man is gone now and can't even defend himself. Have some respect.

Shame on you.

After all the things named after Ronald Reagan when he was still alive... this is small potatoes. There is an USS George H. W. Bush for pete's sake!

I'd in favor of law which says you have to be dead for at least 10 years before any government body can name something after you.

Well, if a ship or monument can be named after Ronald Reagan after what he and his administration did to America and it's people (illegal funding of drug buys-Iran Contra, HUD scandal, Savings and Loan scandal, Sewergate and on and on), anyone American citizen should be able to have anything in America named after them. Rep. Murtha represents the true American spirit of what out constitution is really about.

Stop the presses!
Fair and Balanced Andrew Malcolm has done it again!
His breathless expose about the tidal wave of opposition against naming a Navy ship after John Murtha - 6,860 concerned Americans out of a population of 300 million plus - is indeed the stuff of legends!
I can't stop laughing..

(AM responds: Hey, whatever keeps you happy, Unionman. Appreciate your repeated musings.)

This isn't journalism. This is just the fascist rantings of some right-wing hacks who are trying to revise history after the fact.

Over the top, smug and self-satisfied, you have a future with Fox News. One would hope you aren't destined for a long run with the Times.

(AM responds: Hey, Michael. Nice to have you back. It's been a few weeks. We missed your suggestions about more layoffs of people who disagree with you. Maybe they'll name a ship after you. Thanks again for reading.)

At least Murtha was man enough to be honest with his views and opinions on the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and the war itself. But unfortunately we have a ship named after Reagan, As a Navy veteran, naming a ship after Reagan is more of insult and a disgrace. Which by the way, Reagan DID NOT have a "greater record of valor and service to the country" and also has an airport named after him. Murtha is being considered for his service, not his comments.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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