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Sunday, November 19, 2006

The New Squeaker of the House

Nancy Pelosi came out of the gate running, too bad she was running the wrong way and against the tide of her fellow Democrats. In backing John Murtha in her first major decision as squeaker of the house, she made a tactical error. In politics, you do not pick as your first fight within your own party, one that you are assured to lose. Yet she did exactly that.

You also do not "threaten" parts of your own caucus to force them to vote for what you want, which they do not. At least, you do not do that in a way that is mkes the papers. She did.

So she backed a loser, she tried to push him through, she threatened members of her own party and she lost. Nice start so far huh?

In Pelosi's campaign promises, she made it clear she wished to "clean up" and her first major decision flew in the face of the promise. Will the rest of her decisions be as stupid? We will see.

We now come to California Congresswoman Jane Harman. Pelosi has already made it clear that she does not want to give Harman the top job on the Intelligence Committee when the party formally takes over in January. Harman, whose qualifications no one doubts, says she was promised it by earlier Democratic leaders. But by shutting out Harman, Pelosi would be setting another trap for herself.

The next in line after Harman is Florida's Alcee Hastings, who in 1989 was impeached and removed from his federal judgeship by Congress over allegations that he had conspired to take a $150,000 bribe (charges of which he was acquitted in court). If Pelosi passes him over, she is certain to infuriate the Congressional Black Caucus, with whom her relations are already strained.

So Madame Squeaker, do you continue creating enemies in your own camp or do you act like a leader and do what is best for your party and towards the goals you made with your promises to the American public? Do you keep those promises or do you continue to self destruct? The ball is in your court.

One glaring difference in the voting records of Jane Harman and Alcee Hastings is their stand on the Military.

Jane Harman Voted YES on continuing military recruitment on college campuses. (Feb 2005)
Alcee Hastings Voted NO on continuing military recruitment on college campuses. (Feb 2005)

Seems Alcee fits more into the anti-military mindset that the far left has.

To show exactly how weak BOTH choices are, in fact how weak most of the far left is, both voted NO to adopting the recommendations of the 9/11 commission.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission), an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The Commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

The report is available for download here.

Pelosi is going to have to decide whether she is going to continue trying to settle old scores, or whether she is going to get on with business. This is her choice. How she proceeds now will tell everyone exactly what the next two years will hold for us.

One of Harman's latest accomplishments is the SAFE Port Act, co-authored by Rep. Jane Harman, was signed into law by President Bush on October 13, 2006. The law creates a dedicated multi-year funding stream for port security projects and direct the Homeland Security Secretary to develop a strategy for cargo and maritime security.

So, unless Pelosi continues to try to use her new position to settle scores, her choice should be easy here. Harman earned the job and should get it, but I hold no confidence that Nancy has learned a damned thing. I am betting she makes yet another bad choice.

As this article so aptly puts it: Did Nancy Pelosi Get the Message?

The new Squeaker will also be under more pressure to push through lobbying and ethics reform but may find that harder to accomplish. After an election in which exit polls showed that voters are more concerned about corruption than the Iraq war, Pelosi needs to recover the high ground she lost with her endorsement of Murtha, who said he thought her reform measures were "total crap." It was bad enough that Murtha's candidacy turned the cable-news networks into a film festival of the grainy tapes from the Abscam sting in 1980, in which the Pennsylvania Congressman told an agent posing as an Arab sheik that he couldn't be bribed "at this point." But on ethics reforms or any other tough issues that lawmakers like to publicly support and privately fight, Pelosi might now lack the backroom clout needed to get results. "When key votes like the budget come around, this will make it a lot harder for her to pressure members," said a Democratic Congressman who backed Hoyer over Murtha. "It's going to be a lot harder for that pressure to be as meaningful."

Many do not wish to admit it, but her first bad decision was her first test and she failed miserably and weakened her party. Will Madame Squeaker continue down that path and weaken them further or will she start acting like an adult?

Who wants to take bets?

To take everything up a notch, the party that promised big changes ethically in congress, NOW cannot agree on how steep those changes should be. When the Republicans were in control, the Dems didn't have a problem running on a platform of creating major changes, but now things are a little different. Seems the infighting continues within the Democratic Party.

Some Democrats say their election is a mandate for more sweeping changes, and many newly elected candidates — citing scandals involving several Republican lawmakers last year — made Congressional ethics a major issue during the campaign. After winning the House on election night, Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, promised “the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.”

Senator Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat tapped by party leaders last year to spearhead ethics proposals, said he was pushing for changes with more teeth. “The dynamic is different now,” Mr. Obama said Friday. “We control both chambers now, so it is difficult for us to have an excuse for not doing anything.”

He is pushing to create an independent Congressional ethics commission and advocates broader campaign-finance changes as well. “We need to make sure that those of us who are elected are not dependent on a narrow spectrum of individuals to finance our campaigns,” he said.

Sweeping change, however, may be a tough sell within the party. Representative John P. Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania, was embarrassed by disclosures last week that he had dismissed the leadership proposals with a vulgarity at a private meeting. But Mr. Murtha is hardly the only Democrat who objects to broad changes.

Promises to be an interesting couple of years, doesn't it?

Tracked back by:
The Most Philosophically Vacant Election of My Lifetime from Thespis Journal...