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On the July 18 edition of MSNBC Live, during a discussion of Senate Republicans' move blocking an up or down vote on a Democratic amendment aimed at withdrawing troops from Iraq, Washington Post staff writer Shailagh Murray asserted that "most Republicans" could not "get their heads around" what she described as the amendment's "hard and fast withdrawal date" and therefore would not support the measure because "[t]hey're just not willing to do that to the military." Murray did not explain what exactly the amendment would "do" to the military, nor did she explain how it represented a "hard and fast withdrawal date."
The amendment in question, offered by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI), calls for the reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq to begin no later than 120 days after its enactment. According to the amendment, the reduction in U.S. forces would "be implemented as part of a comprehensive diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community for the purpose of working collectively to bring stability to Iraq." The measure also calls for a limited number of troops to remain in Iraq to protect U.S. "personnel and infrastructure," train, equip and support the Iraqi Security Forces, and engage in "targeted counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda, al Qaeda affiliated groups, and other international terrorist organizations." The amendment further stipulates that "[t]he Secretary of Defense shall complete the transition of United States forces to a limited presence and missions as described" in the amendment by April 30, 2008.
This is not the first time Murray has equated supporting the war or opposing withdrawal with support for the troops or the military. As Media Matters for America noted, in a July 8 Post article, Murray and Jonathan Weisman reported on Rep. Dan Boren's (D-OK) reluctance to support a withdrawal deadline and wrote that President Bush "needs the support of pro-military lawmakers such as Boren." The characterization reflects a pattern in the media, including in the Post's reporting, that Media Matters has repeatedly documented.
From the 11 a.m. ET hour of the July 18 edition of MSNBC Live:
MONICA NOVOTNY (anchor): Now, Democratic Senator Richard Durbin [IL] has said that many Republicans have been telling their constituents they've given up on the president's Iraq policy but they're not voting for change. Did the Democrats succeed in publicly putting more pressure on Republicans to change course in Iraq?
MURRAY: Well, you know, we'll have -- we'll see in the next few days as some sort of milder amendments come forward that would place some restraints on the administration, but not with this hard and fast withdrawal date that Republicans, most Republicans -- I think only three supported this today -- can get their heads around. They're just not willing to do that to the military, and they're not willing to challenge Bush that directly.