Top House Dem aide on Murtha: "Pelosi is going to be furious" that the surge is working; Update: Murtha backtracks, "clarifies"

Of course she is. See now why I used the melting bunny video?

Follow the link for a long list of Happy Jack’s greatest defeatist hits; his snide castigation of O’Hanlon and Pollack included in my post yesterday isn’t among them. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is out with a fuller treatment of his comments today. Good news, Pelosi: There’s still plenty of chaos to go around.

Murtha said he saw signs of progress and continuing chaos during his one day in Iraq. A hospital he visited had been hit by a mortar attack the day before, but more parts of the country are peaceful than before, and Iraqi troops in the Al Anbar province are rooting out the remnants of al-Qaida in their area, he said…

Murtha said that “surge” of troops is working, but it only underscores how poor planning from the Bush administration has hamstrung the war effort. Other examples include the slow response to protecting troops from roadside bombs and a shortage of the helicopters needed to transport troops.

He says he got a call from Bush’s war czar about possibly negotiating a timetable. I’ve been wondering if Bush wasn’t coming around to that idea as a way of getting out while on a high note. Murtha seems willing to compromise by extending the Democrats’ proposed December 2008 deadline for withdrawal; Bush probably won’t agree to any binding timetable, no matter how long-term it is, not only as a matter of pride but because I suspect he wouldn’t want to tie his successor’s hands in trying to win the war, even if those hands are likely to belong to Hillary. Now, if Murtha wants to talk about a non-binding timetable…

Pelosi’s anger at Murtha will pass but this may be a source of chronic heart-ache. Exit question: How much further would things have to improve before the GOP starts talking up Iraq as a campaign issue? After four years of risking regional and political disaster, I’m thinking … a lot further.

Update: A lot, lot further.

Update: Pelosi must indeed have been furious.

Following a headline-grabbing uproar, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, moved swiftly Friday to clarify earlier remarks that seemed to suggest the Iraq surge policy was working.

The surge, he said in a statement, “has created a window of opportunity for the Iraqi government,’’ but so far the Iraqi government has “failed to capitalize on the political and diplomatic steps that the surge was designed to provide.”

“The fact remains that the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily, and that we must begin an orderly redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as practicable,” said the chair of the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee.

Update (12/1): My mistake — the newspaper linked above is the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, not the Post-Gazette. The reader who sent the tip informs me that the T-R is a “very Republican newspaper.” Read the story and judge for yourself if you think it’s unfair to Murtha.