MORE MURTHA. Clearly my voice doesn't matter one iota to the final outcome, but I would like to reiterate my concerns about Jack Murtha's bid to be Majority Leader. There is a lot of netroots support for Murtha based on his call to end the Iraq War sooner, and the optics of having a Vietnam vet and staunch defense hawk make that case. Fair enough. I can understand that. But what about this?

In the last year, Democratic and Republican floor watchers say, Mr. Murtha has helped Republicans round up enough Democratic votes to narrowly block a host of Democratic proposals: to investigate federal contracting fraud in Iraq, to reform lobbying laws, to increase financing for flood control, to add $150 million for veterans' health care and job training, and to exempt middle-class families from the alternative minimum tax.

Then there's the ethics committee:

Former congressman Chris Bell (D-Tex.) said yesterday that Murtha helped elevate Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (W.Va.) to the top Democratic spot on the House ethics committee, and that Murtha and Mollohan have worked to slow the ethics process to a crawl for much of the past two years.

One line of argument I found particularly amusing, though, was the idea that he's any less in the pocket of lobbyists than his opponent, Steny Hoyer. That appears to be ... inoperative.

If that doesn't sway you, how about the idea that defense contractors are salivating over the prospects of Murtha as Majority Leader? Murtha is "the top recipient of defense industry money in Congress" and "in 2004, he ranked third only to presidential candidates Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and George Bush [in defense industry funding], but in 2002 he was No. 1." Finally, the Abscam tape, which you can watch on Google video, is more damning than you might think. Not the kind of guy Dems should want representing them as Majority Leader, frankly.

--Blake Hounshell

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