In his Meditation XVII, known to most of us as No Man Is An Island, John Donne opined that any man’s death diminishes us all. As Mr. Donne preceded Jack Murtha by nearly four centuries he can be forgiven the broadness of this statement.
Jack Murtha was a profoundly destructive force in American politics. His legislative efforts were limited to lining the pockets of himself, his family, and assorted cronies. For all of his woofing about being sympathetic to the men and women of the Armed Forces he did not author a single piece of legislation in his career which did anything other than milk the Department of Defense for money.
Murtha did lead a charmed life. In Vietnam, as seems de rigeur among Democrat politicians who served there, he managed to acquire two Purple Hearts without spending a single day in the hospital. Likewise, he picked up a Bronze Star with V device as a battalion intelligence officer. As a member of Congress he was up to his eyeballs selling his influence to all comers and was captured on video by the FBI. For reasons that have never been real clear, Murtha was allowed to skate while he testified against two colleagues.
One would say that the real shame of Murtha’s congressional tenure took place in the past 6 years when he attempted to burnish his anti-war credentials for a run at a congressional leadership position at the expense of the men and women engaged in combat. He publicly declared the Marines charged with murder in connection with alleged killings at Haditha were guilty (they have since been acquitted or the charges have been dropped) and he described General David Petraeus as a political hack
All respect to Mr. Donne, none of us are diminished by the death of Jack Murtha. He was a man of few if any redeeming public attributes, he pillaged the treasury to enrich himself, he tarnished the reputation of good men, and he was a blight on the body politic. The nation is better off, not for his death but for his absence from its political life.