He may have lost the race for House majority leader, but he still earns our vote for leading the way in calling for an end to the Iraq war.

Check out his conciliatory statement upon losing the race.

Yes, we are mindful that Murtha doesn’t fit the traditional mold of a Truthdigger of the Week: He’s pro-life, against gun control, and never met a military earmark he didn’t like.

But Democrats need to come to a reckoning with the fact that if the party is to retain its majority past 2008, it will need to embrace social conservatives like Murtha — and, indeed, like incoming Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.) and Jim Webb (Va.).

For as much as we disagree with many socially conservative policies, there are, unfortunately, larger issues currently at stake. If the embrace of pro-life and anti-gun control legislators is what’s required for a bulwark against President Bush on Iraq, then so be it. On a global scale, nothing could be more important right now.

Which is why Murtha’s loss to Rep. Steny Hoyer for House majority leader was regrettable: Although Hoyer has been a nominal opponent (as of late) of the Iraq war, his efforts pale in comparison to those of Murtha, as a representative sampling of TV news interviews of Murtha will show:

On MSNBC, Chris Matthews calls Murtha “arguably the leading voice in the anti-war movement now”:

On CNN’s “The Situation Room” this September, Murtha blasts Bush’s priorities:

Murtha delivers an address on election’s eve (Nov. 6, 2006)

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