My friend Michael Scherer over at Salon offers a perfectly pithy assessment of the man Pelosi has tapped for Democratic majority leader:
Murtha, a decorated Vietnam veteran, makes an unlikely ideological ally for the liberal Pelosi in just about every policy arena except for Iraq. For much of his career, he has quietly worked behind the scenes building up power as an appropriator of military pork. First elected in 1974, Murtha has one of the most conservative voting records for a House Democrat, is reliably pro-life and anti-gun-control, and is well-known for his ability to strike side deals with Republicans. He regularly sponsors the constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, voted to drill in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, and is rated one of the most corrupt members of Congress by a liberal watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. In addition to his close ties to two prominent lobbying firms, Murtha has been dogged by his role in Abscam, an undercover government sting operation in 1980, during which he was videotaped being offered a bribe by an FBI agent posing as an Arab sheik. Murtha rebuffed the offer but left the door open for a later time.
I personally think, his ethical issues aside, Murtha offers a welcome contrast to Pelosi. Hoyer comes off as just another stuffed Armani suit. Murtha's got lunchbucket appeal.
His very pro-military, pro-gun presence makes it very hard to pigeon hole the Dems as the party of San Francisco values. And he offers a credible voice — not one I'm sure I agree with, but a credible one nonetheless — on the most important issue of the day.
I definitely understand Pelosi's preference for Murtha. And I'd be shocked if he doesn't get the votes tomorrow.