CBC as a force of conservatism

This is just a hypothesis for the moment, mind you. But if science proceeds by testing hypotheses against evidence...

It struck me, thinking about recent essays like that of Tomasky on Dems ceasing to be a party of specific interests and turning to the common good, that the CBC might be feeling a little nervous.

They, after all, represent the paradigm special interest in the Dem party, and might feel that their unique place in the party would be threatened by the new approach.

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Memo to Senate Democrats: Get Meaner

Asking William Jefferson to step down from the Ways and Means Committee, which is a very powerful post, is something a leader does. Walking into the hornet's nest that is the CBC, as Pelosi did, will cause her problems, but she believes that it is worth the sacrifice.  The Senate side, not so much.  I hope that Harry Reid, a brave man and a partisan, learns a thing or two from her about whipping a caucus, because what Glenn writes is simply spot-on.

In other words, there are serious questions about whether Gen. Hayden will comply with the law and whether he believes in the rule of law, so perhaps it's not a good idea to install him as CIA Director. Is there some reason Democrats were afraid to make that clear, straightforward, critically important point?

Yet again, Senate Democrats show that they have no more concern for the rule of law and for the excesses of this administration than Senate Republicans do. Due to their really pitiful passivity, they are every bit as much to blame for the excesses and abuses of the administration as the compliant Republicans are.

I've written before that, at least to me, the principal if not exclusive benefit of the Democrats taking over one or both of the Congressional houses in November is that it will impose some checks and limitations on the behavior of the administration and, specifically, will finally result in meaningful investigations into what has happened in our country and to our government over the last five years. But I have serious doubts about whether that would really happen.

After November, 2006, the presidential elections are not far away. The same paralyzing, stagnating, fatally passive Democratic voices who always counsel against standing up to the administration aren't going anywhere...

Is there any doubt that the likes of Senators Feinstein, Rockefeller, Levin, etc. are going to follow that thinking, as they always do? I don't see how that can be doubted. I think Congressional Democrats will be more cautious and passive, not less so, if they take over one of the Congressional houses in 2006. People who operate from a place of fear and excess caution become even more timid and fearful when they have something to lose. The Democratic Congressional Chairs are going to be desperate not to lose that newfound power, and they will be very, very vulnerable to the whiny whispers of the consultant class that they should not spend their time and energy investigating this administration or vigorously opposing them on national security matters.

John Cole is absolutely right that Democrats have managed to change virtually nothing as a result of the collapse of the Bush presidency. That's because they think the same and behave the same as they did when they were getting pushed around by Bush as a highly popular "war president." As a result, there is no reason to believe they will be any better than they are now (and have been for the past four years) if and when they take over one or both Congressional Houses. One could make a compelling case that they will be even worse.

I don't agree entirely with Glenn's sweeping generalization of Democrats, but he's right about the Senate.  The House can be governed to oppose the President, and I believe that Pelosi is serious about making that happen.  The Senate doesn't have the will and never has.

On the other hand, I'm hearing bad things about goings on in the House with regards to the net neutrality bill in the Judiciary Committee.  Pelosi's been very helpful in fighting for internet freedom there, and all of us on the blogs are going to need to step up later today on the issue.

Get ready for some people-powered politics.

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Harman Pushed Off of Intelligence Committee by Pelosi?

Thanks to budlawman, I came upon this article on a Pelosi-Harman fight.

Rep. Jane Harman, who has gained national prominence as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is fighting to hold on to the job amid indications she will be rotated off the panel next year.

The dispute pits the Venice lawmaker against House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco. Its outcome could determine what role Harman, who once ran for California governor and is one of the most quoted Democrats on intelligence matters, will play in the next Congress -- if she is reelected.

Pelosi has informed colleagues that she intends to force Harman to step down, replacing her with Rep. Alcee L. Hastings of Florida, the second most senior Democrat on the intelligence panel.

It's hard to tell if this has to do with Pelosi placating the CBC, if Pelosi is fed up with Harman, or if this is just a normal rotation off the committee.  It might be all three.  I do know Pelosi is incredibly angry about intelligence matters and how they have been handled by Bush.  She feels personally affronted.

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On Alcee Hastings, where does one start?

MyDD is nothing if not educational.

And following up my piece on Monday has been no exception.

The piece introduced (to me, at least) the fascinating story of Alcee Hastings, formerly Federal District Judge for the Southern District of Florida.

Hastings was impeached and convicted of corruption. But, by some process which I have yet to fathom, the voters of FL-23 found this episode on his CV no impediment to sending him to the US House. Several times.

Only in America!

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Committee chairmanships: the racial angle

Our friend Joe Klein has been looking forward (as are we all, natch) to a Dem-controlled 110th House, and, in particular, one or two committee chairmanships.

He starts with La Pelosi's unfortunate MtP performance the weekend before last: the part where she managed to be ineffectual yet shrill in defending her position on impeachment when challenged with John Conyer's contrary position.

Conyers, as Ranking Member of Judiciary, would naturally expect the chairmanship if the Dems took control. The tone that Pelosi took about him on MtP when Russert pointed out that Conyers was heir apparent suggested that he did not have her unalloyed admiration.

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