Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Rep. Murtha vs. Rep. Kline
John Hinderaker of PowerLine invites us to compare and contrast Rep. John Murtha, who loves to talk about his military background (he retired in 1990 from the reserves, not having been on active duty since 1974), vis-a-vis Rep. John Kline (who doesn't talk much about his military background).
Both Congressmen John retired from the military as highly-decorated colonels in the US Marine Corps. But there the similarity ends. Rep. Murtha clearly relishes his role as a career politician; he emphasizes repeatedly on his website how rare it is for a Congressman to have served as long as he has. Rep. Murtha was a captain of Marines in Vietnam, and, as near as I can tell, received his promotions to major and colonel as a reservist. Rep. Kline, by contrast, served 25 years on active duty in the Marines, earning such roles as pilot of Marine One (the Presidential helicopter), bearer of the 'nuclear football' for Presidents Carter and Reagan, commander of all Marine aviation forces in Somalia, and a great deal more.
When I first wrote about Rep. Murtha, I tried to find a photo of him in uniform -- giving credit where credit is due, and so forth. I was bemused to find nothing -- not on his Website (where he boasts openly about his service), not elsewhere on the Internet, nothing. By contrast, a photo of a uniformed Kline -- shaking the hand of President Reagan, no less -- is easily found, on Kline's Website, among other places.
Kline's pride in his military service is evident, in other words... whereas Murtha is comfortable reframing his service in his own words, but doesn't let the facts speak for themselves. (Could that be, perhaps, because any photo of him in uniform would have to be more than 30 years old? That didn't stop Sen. Kerry, did it?)
Finally, the two Johns have very different attitudes toward America's ongoing presence in Iraq. I've written elsewhere that Murtha's arguments are heavy on rhetoric and very sparing on hard facts. Kline, by contrast, just got back from a trip to Iraq (his third), and told Mr. Hinderaker about what he found there.
Please go read it. Rep. Kline is unsparing in his criticism of things that could have been done differently; but like a Marine, he focuses less on mistakes of the past and more on constructive approaches for going forward. His overall assessment is quite upbeat, and he does not hesitate to explain why.