John Murtha, 1932-2010

I've blogged a lot about western Pennsylvania Rep. Jack Murtha over the years, usually critically. As you may have heard, Murtha died today at age 77. There is much good that can be said about his long career in the military and then in Washington. As a Marine, he served his country with great honor, seeing combat in that most unpopular conflict in Vietnam. He then became the first Vietnam vet to serve in the U.S. Congress, and throughout his career he always kept his finger in the pulse of America's military men and women; indeed, it was those contacts that convinced him to take a highly principled stand against the war in Iraq when it was neither popular nor politically expedient. Given the devastation of manufacturing in the Johnstown-Altoona region, it's not surprising that he pushed so hard for federal dollars and jobs for his district -- but the fact that he cut political associates and friends in on those deals was most unfortunate. The passing of Murtha is a sad thing, but the fact that he squandered his political capital in the end, when America needed it the most, is truly tragic.