Livin' it up, American style

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Let's see what's in the news today.

One of the main headlines of the day is Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) failed attempt to get John Murtha (D-PA) elected as the Majority Whip in the House. This was a very odd battle for her to choose, especially as it was basically the very first thing she did after getting unanimously elected as Speaker of the House. She had first said that she would remain neutral and not endorse anyone for the position of Majority Whip, which is the second in line after Speaker and has the job of making sure party members are loyal and vote with the party. Then she came out very strongly for John Murtha, even though Steny Hoyer (D-MD) had been a very popular minority whip and was clearly the front-runner for the position (and was indeed elected by a large margin).

As Speaker of the House, Pelosi does have the right to strongly support someone, especially since the Whip and Speaker work together closely. However, it is odd that she choose to come out and endorse a black horse candidate. If Steny Hoyer had been an unpopular or ineffective whip, then I can understand Pelosi wanting to support someone else that she considered better. But Pelosi didn't really have many good reasons for why she preferred Murtha so strongly over Hoyer. Certainly one of her reasons is that it is well known that she and Hoyer don't get along, and haven't for 40 years, but she and Murtha are very close. She also said Murtha would be a better choice to get us out of Iraq, because he came out very vocally against the war about a year back, saying we need to start redeploying the troops. Well, Steny Hoyer's view on the war in Iraq is 'phased redeployment of the troops'.

I think that Pelosi did a disservice to the Democratic party in general. Her first move makes it look like there is dissension in the ranks, like the party is not very cohesive. I also think she did a disservice to her own reputation, by overestimating her popularity and power. There are several congressmen who have complained of her strong arm tactics to get them to vote for Murtha. Starting out her term as Speaker by going after a long-time rival for very flimsy reasons was not the best move for Nancy Pelosi, personally and politically.


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