MR. RUSSERT: The president says, “stay the course,” that within the next six months, Iraq will be secure under the direction of the new prime minister, and to do anything less now would be irresponsible.He gets rolling and jumps from point to point -- mostly freeform financial analysis -- with no end in sight until he suddenly, apparently, thinks of an exit strategy: "I feel very strongly about it."
REP. MURTHA: Well, “stay the course” is “stay and pay.” This is the thing that has worried me right along. We’re spending $8 billion dollars a month, $300 million dollars a day. And to give you some perspective of what that means, Gates said, “I’m going to quit the corporation, or I’m going to—less time with the corporation.” Well, you weigh $30 billion dollars. That’s four months of the cost of this war. This port security, if you want to spend more money, it’d would take 47 years the way we’re spending it. Education, the No Child Left Behind, a couple months of the war would pay for that.
[234 words cut.]
It’s getting worse. That’s why I feel so strongly. All of us know how important it is internationally to win this war. We know how important. We import 20 million barrels of oil a day—we use 20 million barrels of oil. We know how important, international community. But we’re doing it all ourself, and there’s no plan that makes sense. We need to have more international cooperation. We need to redeploy our troops, the periphery. What happened with Zarqawi could have been done from the out—it was done from the outside. Our planes went in from the outside. So there’s no reason in the world that they can’t redeploy the troops. They’ve become the targets, they’re caught in the civil war, and I feel very strongly about it.
Russert bases the interview on a clips from a speech Karl Rove gave in New Hampshire last Monday, and Murtha should have been well prepared to answer this. Rove's remarks are clear: the Democrats want to "cut and run." "They may be with you at the first shots, but they are not going to be there for the last tough battles." Murtha's response is nothing but babble about how Rove isn't personally fighting the war:
He’s, he’s in New Hampshire. He’s making a political speech. He’s sitting in his air conditioned office with his big, fat backside, saying, “Stay the course.”You know, most Americans are fat. Including Murtha. This kind of personal invective may be hilarious among fellow Rove-haters, but it's frustrating to listen to an answer like that when Rove has articulated exactly the issue Democrats need to address. It's always been the case that the leaders are back home in physical comfort -- though it's an unusually bad week to dredge up that hackneyed observation, since Bush just went to Iraq.
That’s not a plan. I mean, this guy—I don’t know what his military experience is, but that’s a political statement. This is a policy difference between me and the White House. I disagree completely with what he’s saying.Thanks for the big, fat nonanswer. We know you disagree with him. Murtha goes on for another 210 words, and Russert finally finds a way to break in and tries to remind him that the Democrats need to keep Rove from pinning that disastrous label "cut and run" on them. Russert:
Is it appropriate for the president’s principal political adviser to accuse the Democrats of cutting and running?Does Murtha pick up the cue and do the one thing he most needs to do, which is to portray the Democrats as more responsible on national security?
I think it’s, it’s, it’s a, a name—they just use that. I say “stay and pay.” And what I mean by stay and pay, and I’m talking about the hardship on the families, the hardship on the troops. And there’s no plan, that’s the thing. It’s easy to say that. That’s, that’s an easy—the public is way ahead of this. The public is two-to-one against what we’re doing, and they want a change in direction. That’s the thing I see the most.Notice all the stumbling? "It’s, it’s, it’s a, a name... there’s no plan, that’s the thing. It’s easy to say that. That’s, that’s an easy—the public is way ahead of this." Remember the polls? Americans already disagree with Rove. So why should I -- the most outspoken war critic the Democrats have -- bother to put two coherent sentences together?
Did somebody misprogram him? It sounds as though he was repeating a pep talk someone gave him before the show. It's easy! No, it's not. The polls! You're going into the campaign season, when people are going to start paying attention to the arguments. Are you just going to tell us that we already agree with you?
I'm sure Rove enjoyed that pathetic performance.