I cannot think of any other way to characterize the remarks made by Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) during debate yesterday on the House floor. The lower chamber was debating a procedural rule connected to a Republican-proposed measure that attempted to make Democrats go on the record in favor of a measure similar to the one proposed earlier this week by Congressman John Murtha (D-Pa.), which called for the immediate withdrawl of US troops in Iraq. While I do not support Murtha’s proposal (I am not yet convinced that pull out is the best strategic option at this point), the notion that the mere suggestion of withdrawing troops (something Centcom itself is working on, albeit on a slightly longer timeline–guess they are cowards too) by a 37-year Marine veteran who holds numerous Purple Hearts is tantamount to cowardice is utter nonsense.

Here is what Schmidt said:

The fiery, emotional debate climaxed when Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, the most junior member of the House, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel. “He asked me to send Congress a message – stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message – that cowards cut and run, Marines never do,” Schmidt said.

Congresswoman Schmidt has been in the House all of 5 minutes. Somehow she found the gall to make an ad hominum attack against a 33-year veteran of the House, not to mention a decorated war veteran, rather than debate the issue–which is, after all, what the House is supposed to be doing. Her quote above was not a sly response to the argument for pulling troops out but on its face is an attack on Murtha and anyone else who would merely suggest a policy of troop withdrawl. Ridiculous. This “swift boating” of individuals who hold oppossing arguments is distasteful, unproductive, and, dare I say, un-American. Don’t believe me? Just ask Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska:

The Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years.

Hagel was simply echoing the same sentiment put forward by President Theodore Roosevelt in an editorial almost 90 years ago:

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

The second district of Ohio has some serious thinking to do about who represents them.

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