11/20/2005 02:10 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The War Is Over ... Except For the Dying

The GOP's desperate stunt in distorting Rep. Murtha's resolution and rushing it to a vote shows they sense the truth on some level: the tipping point's been reached. The war is over in the American soul. The political process needs to be worked through, timing and details need to be worked out -- but on some level the people have made their decision.

To be honest, I've never thought much of Rep. Murtha, who still calls Cheney a "good friend." But he's an honest man who can't tolerate the cynical waste of soldiers' lives that has been the hallmark of this administration. That's hard to reconcile with his friendship for the ex-Halliburton President (he of the "other priorities" during Vietnam), but history can be surprising in its choice of tools. It looks like Murtha has been chosen.

Unfortunately, while the war may be over on some psychological/metaphysical/John & Yoko level, it's still very much a going concern on the ground. US soldiers and Iraqi civilians are being killed every day. Yes, I believe it's only a matter of time now before the war ends - but how much time?

That's up to the Democrats, to a certain extent. Their courage, or lack of it, will drive the timetable. Will they be willing to stand with Rep. Murtha, and with the 60% of Americans of want us out of Iraq? If they continue to press the Republicans, as Rep. Murtha has done, our troops will be home sooner. It's as simple as that. If more of them say of Iraq what Rep. Rahm Emanuel did - "At the right time, we will have a position" - the war will go on longer, and more Americans and Iraqis will die.

Democrats need to focus the debate on the only critical issue that remains: How do we define the "earliest practicable date" (language from the original Murtha resolution) for withdrawal, in a realistic and responsible manner?

In a very genuine sense, the number of future war dead is an inverse measurement of Democratic political courage.

A Night Light