On Sunday, Sen. John McCain — regularly lauded for his nonpartisan “straight talk” — attacked Rep. John Murtha for having “become too emotional” over the Iraq war.
McCain was simply repeating the line he had given Byron York in an interview for the New Republic. That piece is now online, and as you’ll see below, McCain was even more personal when speaking to York:
John Murtha is “a lovable guy,” but “he’s never been a big thinker; he’s an appropriator.” Using language that Bush never could, McCain tells me that Murtha has become too emotional about the human cost of the war. “As we get older, we get more sentimental,” McCain says. “And [Murtha] has been very, very affected by the funerals and the families. But you cannot let that affect the way you decide policy.”
We’ll put aside whether 69-year-old John McCain should be referencing 73-year-old John Murtha’s age to dismiss his policy positions. But with McCain’s comments about Murtha’s intellectual capacity in mind, it’s worth noting some of Murtha’s accomplishments.
For three decades, U.S. presidents of both parties have turned to Murtha for advice on our nation’s most sensitive national security issues. For instance, he “worked closely with President George H.W. Bush” in the lead-up to the first Iraq war. Murtha also authored a highly-praised book that one reviewer described “an analytical history of defense and foreign affairs matters that Murtha has been involved in from the Vietnam War through Sept. 11.”
Pretty good for someone who’s “never been a big thinker.”