U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown, the hawk who became dovish on Iraq, has been chosen by Time magazine as one of the People Who Mattered in 2006.

Murtha was described as “a lonely voice that became a chorus” during 2006 when Democrats won control of Congress. It came as Americans were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with U.S. military efforts in Iraq.

It’s the second time Murtha has been recognized for his willingness to take a stand that’s unpopular – even with some members of his own party. He was awarded the 2006 Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in May.

Murtha, a 32-year House veteran, weathered months of attacks from Republican rival Diana Irey and others before taking more than 60 percent of the 12th district’s vote to win re-election in November.

He attracted national attention in late 2005 when he reversed course and called for the redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq.

There was an outcry about his being willing to “cut and run” or even surrender in Iraq.

But, Time writer Perry Bacon Jr. noted, Murtha’s party “began embracing his view and calling for the administration to start withdrawing troops.”

Although Murtha lost a bid for House majority leader, Bacon said in the magazine, the congressman will remain a “powerful voice” on the war.

Murtha said Monday that he has appeared on nearly 160 radio and TV shows this year in addition to doing print interviews. But while he may have had an impact, the “real impact came from the people in the election. President George Bush didn’t move until the people spoke,” he said.

But Murtha, ever the supporter of the troops, made it clear there is a distinction between discussing policy and supporting “the young people fighting there. I’ve been working to see they get everything they need since I’ve spoken out.”

He has been the ranking Democrat member on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and will become its chairman in January.

Murtha said he may be taking a trip to Iraq during a House recess in February with a possible stop first in Afghanistan.

The list of People Who Mattered was released in conjunction with Time’s naming of its Person of the Year, You. The public was named for user-generated content on the Internet, including video file sharing on YouTube, the “blogosphere” and social networks.

Trending Video

Recommended for you