The shrew of the House, Ohio Republican Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, could've been mistaken for Almira Gulch, the Wizard of Oz's "Wicked Witch of the West," with her vinegary attack on decorated former Marine, Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, for urging an end to the Iraqi debacle.
"Cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt snarled, only a witch's cackle missing from her nastiness.
She was coached into blaspheming a bemedaled, wounded friend of the military by Ohio state lawmaker Danny Bubp, a Marine reservist, identified by reporters as a "low-level rightwing operative" in ultra-conservative Christian activities.
"Mean Jean," as she's known in Ohio, and her mentor were off base historically, too.
Marines do retreat, when it's the better part of wisdom. Facing more than 200,000 Chinese troops, 20,000 freezing members of the First Marine and 7th Army divisions avoided annihilation at the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea near the Yalu River in 1950 by fleeing to Hungnam for evacuation by sea to live and fight another day. (Marine Gen. O.P. Smith gave the long march a hyperbolic twist -- "Retreat Hell! We're attacking in a different direction!") My First Cavalry Division also retreated south below the 38th Parallel along with all other United Nations forces that frigid November.
U.S. troops also retreated from Vietnam, too: 57,000 killed and 153,000 wounded and overwhelming Communist forces underscored the futility of that war.
Rather than slander Rep. Murtha's prescience about the costly Iraqi adventure, Congress should listen and heed, even if the stubborn Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld triumvirate won't.
Despite noise and fury about spinelessness of critics and the president's stormy, testosterone-filled speeches about achieving "total victory," a pullout from Iraq is not only inevitable, it's begun.
With members aware that most Americans oppose the war, Congress has asked President Bush for some sort of timetable. More than 100 Iraqi politicians signed a resolution last week calling for a timetable on ending occupation by foreign troops. The Pentagon also won't call up more ready reserves or order more repeat tours in Iraq.
The all-politics-all-the-time Bush White House wants to withdraw on its terms, not those of war critics. The president will declare "mission accomplished" -- whatever that means -- to prove he was right.
Then those who demeaned a decorated former Marine and condemned anti-war mother Cindy Sheehan as a defeatist, and insisted on prolonging the costly war, can change their tunes and defend President Bush when he decides to "cut and run" before terrorism is no more wiped out than sin has been eliminated by religion.