Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) is recovering in a Virginia intensive care unit after "unexpected complications" following gallbladder surgery last week. The 77-year-old congressman is the top Democrat of the committee overseeing the Pentagon's spending. Not wasting any time, The Washington Post is analyzing the political and medical fallout of the situation:

  • Murtha's Health Prospects The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig says, "Patients who undergo gallbladder surgery can face significant tenderness and recovery issues, but serious complications are rare -- occurring in as few as 0.6 to 2.2 percent of cases. One potential complication related to the kind of surgery that Murtha underwent results from accidental cutting of the common bile ducts. These nicks can lead to bile backing up in the blood stream and serious infections.
  • Murtha's Political Prospects The Post's Chris Cillizza says Murtha's presence has long prevented Republicans from taking the seat. But with his failing health and feeble fund-raising, a retirement seems likely. And that's bad news for Democrats. "Without Murtha seeking re-election, however, the district would be extremely competitive. In 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) carried it by less than 1,000 votes (out of more than 260,000 cast) while Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) won the 12th by a narrow 51 percent to 49 percent margin four years earlier. The trend line in the district is not moving in the right direction for Democrats, however, as the Vice President Al Gore carried Murtha's seat with 55 percent in 2000."