Bloggers on D.C.'s latest spat.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
June 19 2006 6:01 PM

Murtha vs. Rove

Bloggers discuss John Murtha's targeting of Karl Rove's "big, fat backside." They also react to North Korea's missile test plans and a high school that anointed 41 valedictorians.

Murtha vs. Rove: Stepping up the recent rhetoric regarding the Iraq war, Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha ridiculed Karl Rove on Meet the Press Sunday. Rove gave a speech last week in which the president's senior adviser criticized Murtha's call for a quick withdrawal and rebuked the Democrats' "old pattern of cutting and running." In response, Murtha said, "You can't sit there in the air-conditioned office and tell troops carrying 70 pounds on their backs, inside these armored vessels hit with IED's every day, seeing their friends blown up-their buddies blown up -- and he says stay the course? Easy to say that from Washington, D.C."

In Washington, the Iraq war debate has intensified in recent days as Republicans seek to capitalize on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death and Democrats, on the defensive, propose a Senate resolution seeking a timetable for a phased withdrawal. 

Murtha's latest rant may rally some on the left—"If EVER there was someone deserving to be the Speaker of the House (it's) Jack Murtha," writes commenter Curlew on Daily Kos—but his reasoning is giving ammunition to others.

"I don't seem able to speak 'Murtha,' " concludes Colorado blogger Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom. "John Murtha has now made the transition from gutless Congressional peace activist to outright laughingstock," writes Froggy at military blog Blackfive.

Murtha critics are seizing on other exchanges in the Meet The Press interview, including when Tim Russert pointed out that, in 2004, Murtha cautioned against a premature withdrawal. Russert also asked where withdrawn American troops could redeploy and be close enough to aid the nascent Iraqi army. Among other places, Murtha mentioned Okinawa.

"Okinawa?" conservative Ed Morrissey writes incredulously at Captain's Quarters. "Okinawa is five time zones away -- over 5,000 miles from Baghdad. ... The question for Democrats is why they keep putting Murtha out as their defense expert when he can make statements like this with a straight face. It reveals the utter lack of military scholarship on their part when their two most hailed experts on military affairs are a man who cannot see why Okinawa might be a bad place for a staging ground for Southwest Asia, and a man who wants to turn over Iraqi sovereignty to Iran and Syria."

But on the Huffington Post, Rachel Sklar reviews Murtha's performance and gives him two thumbs up: "I mean, did Murtha stick it to them or what? Boom! They have no plan. Boom! It's lipservice from Washington. Boom! History will prove them wrong. Boom! Karl Rove has a big, fat ass. It almost makes you weep."

Read more about Murtha.

Getting testy: North Korea may soon test an intercontinental ballistic missile. U.S. officials said Sunday that North Korea appears to have completed fueling a long-range missile, indicating a test might be imminent. The United States and others are urging against it, so much so that State Department officials directly contacted North Korean diplomats at the United Nations.

Such warnings proved ineffective in 1998, when North Korea fired a missile over Japan despite the Clinton administration's protestations. North Korea agreed to a moratorium on long-range missile testing in 1999 and has not fired one since.

But if North Korea goes ahead with another similar test—launching a missile over another country's airspace—James Robbins at the conservative National Review's blog The Corner actually sees an opportunity: "Sounds like a great opportunity to test our missile-defense technology." Liberal Kevin Drum, the Political Animal of Washington Monthly writes: "Hell, I could almost sign up for that. After 20 years, it's time for the missile defense guys to put their money where their mouths are."

Drum also asks whether this latest North Korean crisis constitutes grounds for another pre-emptive strike. Andrew Olmsted answers: "We would doubtless prefer they not test a missile capable of striking the United States, but doing so is hardly grounds for war. And war is what we would have if we struck a target inside North Korea."

Read more about North Korea.

Everyone's a winner: Forty-one students were honored as valedictorians this year at a high school in Fairfax, Va., continuing a trend in which schools are increasingly recognizing as valedictorians every graduate who earns a 4.0 grade point average or better. Bloggers aren't fooled.

Law blogger Ann Althouse rails against this supposed scourge, including the phenomenon of weighted grades that contributes to it. "The title of valedictorian is a terrific prize, and it becomes meaningless if every great student wins it," Althouse opines. "Why replicate the message that is already present in the academic records? Just give the prize to the person with the highest GPA and be done with it." A commenter at her site has a novel idea: "I read a suggestion that high schools use the system colleges use: Everybody with a 4.0 is summa cum laude and so forth," writes reader Jim C. "That's better than watering down the meaning of valedictorian."

The very term valedictorian, writes Houston Chronicle writer John Whiteside at his personal blog, By The Bayou, "is commonly understood to mean the top student in a school. If educators really believe that the competition for that spot is a bad thing, they should just stop recognizing it altogether."

Read more about the valedictorian debate.

Darren Everson is a sportswriter in New York City.