I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

What is Jack Murtha hiding?

Ann Coulter has a great column this week, in which she, among other musings, insinuates that Jack Murtha, like John Kerry, didn't deserve his combat medals in Vietnam:

I've never heard a single liberal preface attacks on Oliver North with a recitation of North's magnificent service as a Marine. And unlike Murtha, who refuses to release his medical records showing he was entitled to his two Purple Hearts, we know what North did. (These Democrat military veterans are hardly shrinking violets when it comes to citing their medals, but they get awfully squeamish when pressed for details.)

Beyond wanting to investigate and question the worthiness of Jack Murtha's Vietnam medals, Coulter is also upset that more people didn't talk about Murtha the way the courageous Rep. Jean Schmidt did, who called Murtha a "coward" but then afterwards pretended that she didn't. Coulter described Schmidt's comment about Murtha as nothing more than "an indisputably true remark," and praised Schmidt as the only Congressman who "did not offer to have sex with Jack Murtha on the House floor."

Coulter says that she is also upset about the fact that Republicans commended Jack Murtha's military service when he announced his belief that American troops should be withdrawn, but Democrats didn't do the same thing for Rep. Randy Cunningham this week once Cunningham pled guilty to taking huge bribes in exchange for pressuring the Defense Dept. to award military contracts to his benefactors:

And yet, no Democrat breathed a word of Cunningham's unquestioned heroism before rushing to denounce him as "the latest example of the culture of corruption" — in the words of Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

That's because there is, of course, no meaningful difference between expressing an anti-war view (as Murtha did) and accepting millions of dollars in bribes (as Cunningham did), so -- other than stark unfairness towards Republicans -- how can one possibly explain the glaring difference in the levels of respect accorded to Murtha and Cunningham?

I realize that much of what Coulter says -- like the behavior of a guffawing 14-year-old boy -- is deliberately designed to shock and offend. But when you seek to attract attention to yourself by engaging in behavior that is so lowly and depraved that others are unable to avoid looking, the price you're at least supposed to pay in exchange for this sort of attention is ostracism.

But Coulter never has to pay that price. That's because no matter how repulsive, irrational, or clownishly hate-filled she gets, Republicans still treat her as some sort of serious thinker and pundit, and none of them will repudiate her.

I wonder if the RNC is preparing commercials featuring a few Republican marines who served with Jack Murtha and who have been harboring 35-year grudges against him because he was really a coward who didn't deserve his medals.


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