John Murtha Dead at 77

John-Murtha-photo-officialJack Murtha, the controversial Congressman and retired Marine colonel, has died.

Representative John P. Murtha, the longtime Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, has died at age 77.His aides released a statement saying that he died shortly after 1 p.m. today at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Mr. Murtha had been placed in intensive care last week after complications from gallbladder surgery, his staff said then.

Mr. Murtha, who had an extremely close relationship with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on defense.

A former Marine, Mr. Murtha, his office noted, was the first Vietnam War combat Veteran elected to Congress. Throughout his years, Mr. Murtha paid particular attention to defense spending and to the Pentagon and the military.

When he called for bringing the troops home from Iraq in 2005, after having voted for the war, his proposal stunned many in Congress and added a powerful voice to the growing forces demanding immediate drawdowns and or deadlines.

Just this past Saturday, Mr. Murtha became Pennsylvania’s longest serving Member of Congress.

A sad loss.

While I didn’t always agree with Murtha’s tactics and frequently disagreed with his politics, he was a lifelong public servant and most of the vitriol directed at him from the Right was unjustified. His anti-Iraq War stance and his scathing criticism of the Haditha incident were borne out of concern for the troops and his beloved Marine Corps, not a lack of patriotism.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Obituaries, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Steve Plunk says:

    Murtha deserves our respect for his years of military service. It’s obvious he represented his constituents well having been sent back to Washington so many times.

    However, I must take issue with the term ‘public servant’. The correct term is public employee. $174,000 a years plus untold benefits is not service, it’s a well paying job.

  2. Have a nice G.A. says:

    However, I must take issue with the term ‘public servant’. The correct term is public employee.

    More like public fat cat.

  3. ulyssesunbound says:

    Way to keep it classy, G.A.

    While I’ve never been a huge fan of Murtha, his service in the military and his commitment to using his position to protect our armed forces deserves our respect. In a few days we can assess and criticize, praise and slander, all we want. For now our thoughts and prayers should be with his family and loved ones.

  4. Eric Florack says:

    As I said about John Kerry… his military service deserves our respect, assuming it was in fact service. Given what we know of his activity following his exit from the military I think we know sufficient of his personality to give one pause, there.

    That point about his military background aside, I will quote Janet Jackson: “What have you done for me lately?”

    This is not merely a situation of politics but of corruption.. and well- documented corruption at that.

    You’ll pardon me if I don’t shed any tears, please.

  5. Have a nice G.A. says:

    Way to keep it classy, G.A.

    What I do?

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Murtha was a unconvicted corrupt politician. He fed public money to his friends and those who supported him. He had a loose cannon for a mouth and defamed the service he served. He never apologized for calling those Marines murders. There will be no place for Murtha outside any gates guarded by United States Marines, Joyner Ph. D.

  7. Drew says:

    I guess I’m going to have to be the curmudgeon.

    It seems that anyone who has served in the military is inoculated from criticism. I don’t feel that way. Although like many others on this blog, I acknowledge his service, I think we have to also acknowledge the rest of the body of his work.

    For pure political gain Congressman Murtha chose to attack our current crop of those who serve America. And he owes those people just as much respect as I gave Congressman Murtha for his previous service. Unfortunately he chose not to do so. He chose political gain.

    At the end of the day I have to say that Congressman Murtha besmirched his office and besmirched our American fighting troops. He deserves all the scorn associated with that.

    That probably puts him closer to hell than heaven.

  8. Highlander says:

    He was a corrupt old scumbag, and betrayed the Corps and the young Haditha Marines in a manner that is unmatched in 234 years.

    “Mr inside the beltway”, may he rot in hell. Other than all that,I’m sure he was a lovely person.

  9. anjin-san says:

    I guess that was bitsy’s attempt at being classy. Sadly, he just did not have it in him.

  10. AllenS says:

    He was not a combat Veteran, but a REMF. There’s a difference.

    AllenS
    11B2P

  11. James Joyner says:

    He was not a combat Veteran, but a REMF. There’s a difference.

    He somehow managed to be wounded in combat twice and be awarded a Bronze Star with Valor device, with which the Marines are not generous.

  12. Eric Florack says:

    He somehow managed to be wounded in combat twice and be awarded a Bronze Star with Valor device, with which the Marines are not generous.

    And how many medals did John Kerry manage?

  13. Franklin says:

    How many medals did you manage, Eric?

  14. anjin-san says:

    How many medals did you manage, Eric?

    Thats a good question bitsy. Generally guys like you who make a habit of attacking combat vets do so out of deep seated doubts about their own manhood.

  15. Beowulf says:

    Ding Dong the Bastard is Dead!

    Oh happy feet, keep dancing on his grave.

    Traitors get what they deserve one way or another.

    Hey Murtha, keep a seat warm in hell for Pelosi.

  16. Eric Florack says:

    why would the number of medals I have matter in the slightest? I’m not parading being in the military as a qualification for elective office, whereas the two I mention were. Is it too much to ensure such people didn’t game the system so as to obtain them?
    Oh are such questions only valid when aimed at Republicans? (see as an example falsified documents as regard W and The TANG..)

  17. sookie says:

    his scathing criticism of the Haditha incident were borne out of concern for the troops and his beloved Marine Corps

    He never apologized to his beloved Marines.

  18. Eric Florack says:

    He never apologized to his beloved Marines.

    Thus defeating the argument that it was about ‘protecting the troops’

  19. An Interested Party says:

    Since some want to play a silly ghoulish game…if Murtha really did go to hell, maybe he’ll bump into Ronald Reagan, whose administration funded repressive Central American dictatorships and death squads responsible for the torture and murder of thousands of innocent people…