Times swings a hatchet into 'Speaker Pelosi'

Surprised today's piece hasn't been highlighted before here - perhaps that's because it was scribed not by one of the usual suspects, but by Mark Leibovich (though he'll be on the u/s list ere long if he carries on like this!).

The hed Talk of Pelosi as Speaker Delights Both Parties identifies the tone: not quite as riotous as a Milbank funny, but heading out in that direction.

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Investigate Hastert regardless of DOJ

Hello Blogosphere,

We took Mr. Hastert to task here in Illinois to let voters know that he is tied to Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay and the casino business.

Yesterday, Friday, May 26, 2006, we held two press conferences; one in front of Hastert's office in Batavia, IL and one in front of the Sycamore Court House.  We let voters know that Dennis Hastert is one of the ringleaders in the culture of corruption in Washington and we asked people to vote Democratic on Nov. 7, 2006!

As the ongoing battle between Bush and Hastert continues, we will continue to remind voters that Dennis Hastert SHOULD be investigated for using his power as Speaker to control competition between rival casinos. Regardless of whether or not he is under investigation, he should be under investigation!

Read on to see how "Denny" responded...

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Texas-22: Still Very Much in Play

Following the announcement that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay would not be seeking reelection this year and that further he would be resigning from Congress before election day, a number of the top non-partisan political analysts downgraded their assessment of Democratic chances in DeLay's district, Texas-22, which encompasses parts of Houston and outlying areas. For example, the Cook Political Report, which in late March (.pdf) ranked the campaign a "toss-up,"now (.pdf) sees the race to replace DeLay as "likely Republican." Similarly, The Hotline downgraded the race from the 7th most competitive to the 21st most competitive, and Greg Giroux of CQPolitics.com writes, "A strong Republican nominee who lacks DeLay's political baggage would almost certainly gain at least a slight edge in the race, given the 22nd District's history as a Republican stronghold."

So did the politically-shrewd DeLay assure his party of holding onto his seat by opting not to run again and resigning from Congress? Is this race really "likely Republican" now?

On the surface, it would appear that the answer to these two questions is yes. After all, George W. Bush received 64 percent of the vote in the 22nd district in 2004. What's more, it increasingly appears that up-ticket races for both Governor and Senator won't provide Democrats in the district much in the way of coattails.

That all said, it's a bit hasty to start writing off the Democrats in the district. First of all, voters' sentiment across the country bodes poorly for the Republican Party as a whole, with President Bush's approval rating nearing 30 percent and Congress' approval rating in the mid to low 20s. Even in Texas, Bush's approval rating is only 45 percent, with a majority of Texans voicing disapproval.

More importantly, the Democrats have an extremely able candidate in Nick Lampson, a former Congressman who, until 2005, represented parts of Houston. Not only does Lampson have a connection with voters in the area and strong name recognition, he also has a lot of cash on hand -- more than $1.75 million in the bank, in fact, as of the March 31 filing deadline.

Were that not enough to convince you that the Democrats have a serious shot at picking this seat off from the Republicans this fall, the Associated Press reported yesterday that Steve Stockman, a former conservative Republican Congressman, has collected enough signatures to run as an independent in the general election against Lampson and the eventual GOP nominee (who, by the way, won't be selected by the voters but rather by party insiders -- not the most popular bunch among the base these days).

Given the fact that a significant portion of Texans will likely be voting independent up the ballot this fall -- two strong independent gubernatorial candidates, Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman, are polling together at over 40 percent -- it's not entirely unlikely that a fair number of GOP voters will be inclined to jump ship on the congressional race, too, and support Stockman in the general. Enough defections from the Republican base and Lampson might be home free.

At this point, I wouldn't argue that this race should be labeled as "likely Democrat" or even "leans Democrat." But given the national mood, the strength of the Democratic nominee, the taint of Tom DeLay, and the potential presence of Steve Stockman on the ballot, I am having trouble seeing how the GOP can be favored in Texas' 22nd congressional district.

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TX-22 GOP huddles to pick DeLay replacement

The real news here is in the last line of the article:

Republican leaders from Harris County met in Pasadena Saturday to interview potential candidates for the 22nd District congressional seat that will be vacated by outgoing Rep. Tom DeLay sometime in May or June.

The day drew seven hopefuls, who filled out a questionnaire detailing their political history and philosophies, including Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, state Rep. Robert Talton of Pasadena, lawyer Tom Campbell, who came in second to DeLay in the March primary, state Rep. Charlie Howard of Sugar Land, state Sen. Mike Jackson of La Porte, businessman Timothy Turner and Precinct 3 Fort Bend County Commissioner Andy Meyers.

In closed-door sessions, potential nominees handed out copies of their questionnaires and gave presentations to the roughly 50 precinct chairs. The replacement nominee for the November ballot will be selected by a four-member committee of precinct chairs -- one each from Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston and Harris counties.


The leaders at the meeting did not say whether any candidate had broken out of the pack on Saturday, but several expressed disappointment that Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace, who many considered a leading candidate, did not fill out the questionnaire and failed to show.

Wallace would have been the front-runner, holding the blessing of The Hammer; that he would snub the actual kingmakers seems to bode ill for his prospects. Given that probably only a few DDers have enough familiarity with this district to have an opinion, which of these do you think the Pukes will pick for the privilege of losing to Nick Lampson in November?

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Rove: I'm Not That Stupid Defense

Ah, yes, when all else fails there is the "that would have been stupid defense". It appears that Karl Rove has chosen this to be a piece of his final efforts to avoid indictment. I've always found the very notion of this defense flawed. The premise of the defense is that smart people wouldn't do stupid things or make decisions that could rationally be expected to lead to negative consequences. In Rove's case, as I understand the issue, the argument is being used to explain an oversight to reveal all the details of his conversation with Matt Cooper (specifically the part about Valerie Plame)...in essence he simply forgot that portion of the conversation but to lie would have been stupid...and Rove knows people don't think he is stupid.

The unspoken assertion by those who use this defense (Tom DeLay comes to mind) is that they may use their intelligence to walk right up to the line, but they are also smart enough to never cross that line...basically they know the rules so well they can navigate them like a skilled tightrope walker. On the surface it sounds reasonable and plausible.

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