The Democrats have been whining that no one can question Representative John Murtha’s (D-PA) service to the US and that, therefore, his proposal to cut and run in Iraq could not be criticized – confusing personality with partisanship and effect with cause yet again.

Rather than endure continuing sniping from the cover of press releases about the irrelevant topic of Murtha’s credentials, the GOP called the question on his proposal. Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a resolution to immediately withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, 403 to 3. Roll call here.

The Democrats have called the forcing of this vote a Republican stunt and have asked for serious debate. What they got was serious debate. It was a call to put up or shut up. While the Democrats would have preferred to keep confusing the rejection of Murtha’s proposals with non-existent personal attacks in order to keep any negative news whatsoever on the front pages, and while this strategy arguably improves their political standing, they conduct it at the expense of US credibility, US forces morale and Iraqi confidence on the eve of an election.

The vote proves that Democrats will not defend a concrete expression of Representative Murtha’s suggestion. Even he voted against it.

Three Democrats did vote in favor of withdrawal. Six of them voted “present.”

I find the “present” votes curious. It was a simple “yes” or “no” question. It is certainly possible to hold a more nuanced view of the matter, as John Kerry is wont to say, but that does not explain refusal to express an opinion on this proposal.