Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More on John Murtha and the sleaze factor

John Fund takes a lengthy look at all the accusations against John Murtha and bribery charges from ABSCAM plus more recent charges. Murtha dismisses it all as "swift-boating" but won't answer the substance of the charges. From Fund's report, it's pretty clear that Tip O'Neill deliberately got the House Ethics Committee to drop the investigation into John Murtha, perhaps out of fear that Murtha was going to testify for the FBI and his testimony might reach into O'Neill's office. If you read the transcript from his taped discussions with the FBI agents pretending to be Arab sheiks, it's clear that Murtha was trying to find the best angle for the sheiks to invest in his district for the sole purpose of disguising any aid that Murtha might give them.

If you’re not disposed to take John Fund as a credible source for criticizing Murtha, how about Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post? She is not any more thrilled with the idea of seeing this guy as Majority Leader.
The videotape is grainy, dark and devastating. The congressman and the FBI undercover agents -- the congressman thinks they represent an Arab sheik willing to pay $50,000 to get immigration papers -- are talking business in the living room of a secretly wired Washington townhouse.
Two other congressmen in on the deal "do expect to be taken care of," the lawmaker says. But for the time being -- and he says repeatedly that he might change his mind and take money down the road -- he'd rather trade his help for investment in his district, maybe a hefty deposit in the bank of a political supporter who's done him favors.
"I'm not interested -- at this point," he says of the dangled bribe. "You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't, you know." Indeed, he acknowledges, even though he needs to be careful -- "I expect to be in the [expletive] leadership of the House," he notes -- the money's awfully tempting. "It's hard for me to say, just the hell with it."
This is John Murtha, incoming House speaker Nancy Pelosi's choice to be her majority leader, snared but not charged in the Abscam probe in 1980. "The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi pledged on election night. Five days later she wrote Murtha a letter endorsing his bid to become her No. 2.
Not the most promising start.
Ruth Marcus doesn’t buy Murtha’s defense that his enemies are just “swift-boating” him. If he can’t convince the editorial writers at the Washington Post, he is going to be vulnerable to these sorts of charges throughout his tenure as Majority Leader if he should win.

And don’t forget that this is one guy who was all against any plans to limit earmarks. Is he really the guy that the Democrats want as their poster child for their efforts to supposedly remake the House?
It will be interesting to see if Pelosi is going to go to the mattresses to get her guy elected Majority Leader. She has made her support so public that it will be taken as a defeat for her if Steny Hoyer defeats Murtha. But a Murtha victory will immediately taint the new Democratic majority with a very strong whiff of corruption plus being tied to a guy who is a past master of pork and earmarks. Is that their new image for disposing of the "culture of corruption?"

Not to mention that Pelosi's guy is the one who had the laughable suggestion that we immediately redeploy our troops out of Iraq and station them in Okinawa. What does it say about Nancy Pelosi that she has set up a battle within her own caucus over who should be leader over this guy?