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November 14, 2006


note from Hotline:

Murtha was one of the Democrats’ top campaigners this cycle, but Hoyer played a more active role in recruiting. From the beginning of the cycle, he spent PAC money on promising prospects, and campaigned in over 60 districts. He was one of Rep.-elect Brad Ellsworth’s biggest backers, helping convince him to run against Rep. John Hostettler.

The reticence of most heartland Democrats, at least publicly, to back Murtha indicates the political winds haven’t changed too much. A spokesman for a prominent conservative freshman Democrat summed up his boss’ support for Hoyer in one word: “Iraq.” The Iraq war has grown unpopular, but a call for immediate withdrawal still doesn’t play in Republican-leaning districts.

Murtha’s trying to lead the pack, but the Blue Dogs seem to be going a different way.

Good analysis KX.

IMO, both are horrible candidates. Steny is a DLC triangulator with no spine. Murtha is seriously ethically challenged and is not in line with a progressive reform agenda of election integrity, campaign reform and economic fairness.

But now that Nancy has publicly backed Murtha it would be a disaster for her if Hoyer wins. The caucus will not hold to her discipline and go their own way and the Dems will become the stereotype of lameness.

I can't decide whether a Hoyer victory and loss of control of the Caucus turns Dems lame, or whether it sets the place on fire.

Or alternatively, the progressives could see it as a sign that you can get into the leadership by taking strong stands and by supporting someone who makes the caucus effective, rather than by getting good at big-dollar fundraising and back-scratching. I could see it playing either way.

That's definitely possible, Redshift. Although I think it's also fairly clear that you have to make some sort of major departure from your expected position in order to make it work. Steady and principled opposition to the war has netted progressives nothing in terms of increasing their influence in the Caucus.

Instead, that honor went to someone who "saw the light" when no one expected them to.

Does that not elicit the classic "chopped liver" question?

Speaking of "chopped liver", what does it say to the Southern/moderate/pro-business/technocrat wing of the party if they're shut out of leadership?

Anti-war sentiments will be respected in the caucus regardless of what role Murtha plays in leadership.

The CW is that Pelosi supported Murtha, an ally, by request and on paper. But whether there are calls, arm twisting, etc is another story. If it's the former, honor is served whoever wins.

Making this out to be a bigger fight than it is is inside baseball... as long as significant ethics reform is passed, who cares?

Kagro said so at the beginning... I haven't lost sight of that part of the article. This is not something to hang yourself over if it doesn't go one way or the other.

The word that's going around is that Pelosi's making calls for Murtha, and Jim Moran has told the press that she's going to "ensure" his victory.

If true, a risky move. And either way, someone should bop Moran on the head with the gavel.

to me, the bottom line is simple.... Murtha may be a "true believer" but he will play for the team as majority leader. Hoyer is pure ambition, pure and simple -- and I don't trust him not to undercut Pelosi in advancement of his own personal power.

Decision-- Murtha.

leadership should LEAD

I never heard of stenny hoyer until the battle was over

being a good soldier behind the scenes is an important job, but the LEADERS are the people out front

Mr. Murtha took a leader's position last November

I want LEADERS in leadership positions, not the money men

but I've been wrong before, convince me that hoyer is a leader, if you can

Let's try this: other than Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel himself, only Joe Crowley raised more for the DCCC than did Hoyer.

Hoyer's not a leader because you never heard of him?

Well, I'd heard of him. Because he's been in leadership for a long time.

Murtha took a leader's position. But of course, the only people that decision led were people who wouldn't make up their own minds. The interesting thing about this particular race is that a substantial part of the Caucus, while thankful he came around, considers him a latecomer to their position. Yet it'll be him that gets the big office for coming to it. And to the extent that he'll serve in that office as a conservative, he'll be doing so in opposition to some considerable portion of the agenda of the people who were right all along, who will net nothing for their foresight.

True, Adam. And nobody but Pelosi and Rahm raised more for the Red-to-Blue program, arguably the key effort in regaining the House.

Qualities-of-leadership and fundraising questions aside, I think Kos raised a good point that has informed my view of this contest: Pelosi gets along well with Murtha, and has had many past conflicts with Hoyer. In the interest of pushing forward effectively on a progressive agenda, I am inclined to think that for all his flaws Murtha makes a better counterpart to Pelosi.

The last thing I want to see, after lo all these years in the wilderness, is a bunch of infighting within the House caucus between the Pelosi and Hoyer factions. Yes, I realize that Republican monobloc unity is well beyond the reach of the D caucus, but we can at least minimize the conflict.

PS: Kagro, check your AOL email acct please.

Depending on how bad Murtha's current "ethical" issues are, why don't they just put him front of the cameras every time one of the Sunday, et al shows calls for a Democrat? He has more gravitas than anyone anywhere, including the damned show host. I mean, who in their right mind wants to take him on in public again? Consider Murtha as Tony Snow with morals.

Give Hoyer the position, and then put Murtha out there.

Hoyer's subject to the same popular pressures from Caucus Members as Pelosi is. He won't be the one standing in the way of the top agenda items.

As I understand it, Steny Hoyer is a direct competitor to Nancy Pelosi for the top job, and took the second job a sort of a consolation prize -- and a position from which to run if Pelosi should slip somehow.

Whereas Murtha has been a long-time trusted Pelosi supporter.

My suspicion is that Pelosi is watching her back and preparing to continue the tight control she maintained on the Democrats when they were in the minority. If so, more power to her. [Pun intended.]

hoyer isn't a leader because I've never seen him lead

key word being "seen"

Murtha stepped up and spoke out

hoyer might have been a good "money man", but the money men are the problem lately, which makes me very leary of anybody from the "Money" side of our leadership

Dumb question for the Murtha supporters: if Murtha wins the majority leader's race, do you believe that Hoyer and the folks he represents will just go away quietly, or do you think they'll still demand to be heard within the caucus?

This might be a silly question, but how closely are you watching, and what qualifies as "leading?"

Might I suggest that the people casting the actual votes in this contest have watched somewhat more closely than you?

Kagro, let's not clue "freepatriot" into the fact that the biggest "Money" person among the House Dems is . . . Nancy Pelosi.

In a laconic, impartial journalistic blurb four days after the election, the local paper where NPelosi has made her home a Long Time Now published an article chronicling matters somewhat in the spirit of RB's note, above.

I think Ms. Pelosi opted for stature and loyalty. In our area, her work is deeply appreciated for its bravely venturing somewhat on the progressive side of center in the Kabuki which is the US legislature's lower chamber's politics, where the volatility of two-year term lengths develops extraordinary vision for the adepts who transcend the House of Representative's raw contentiousness.

Where I live the representative, like Murtha before his antiwar epiphany, sounded a lot like a widget supporting homeland; but the newsletters would reveal stern speechmaking in the Congressional Record counseling the President against a rashly advanced course into a war. It turns out our local many termed House representative is one of our best friends, as a member of the Blue Dogs; it's alright as long as you say what you are doing.

Adam B: what does it say to the Southern/moderate/pro-business/technocrat wing of the party

Um, what? Who is southern, and moderate, and a technocrat? I dare you to name a single person. I would argue strenuously that "southern" implies pro-jeebus (which is NOT moderate in 2006) and anti-technology in every single case.

Never get between DSteny Hoyer and what Steny Hoyer wants for Steny Hoyer, not if you don't want to get knifed, kicked and run over. The rule may be "keep your friends close and your enemies closer," but given that Hoyer is strictly out for Hoyer,Pelosi is right to push for someone who she can stand next to without worrying about where the knife is.

Not to mention Hoyer's only complaint about the DeLay Machine is that it isn't called the Hoyer Machine. We do not need a K Street Project for Democrats.

Of the two, Murtha is a traditional politician, and I don't (as someone who has been involved in professional politics) see anything all that horrid in the Abscam video. Progressives who are still virgins might be aghast, but for them to then go with a whore like Hoyer because of that merely demonstrates how stupid and naive at the same time the left can be at important moments.

You need to make up your mind.

Is the position that is open for leadership or for fund raising?

This might be a silly question, but how closely are you watching, and what qualifies as "leading?"

Might I suggest that the people casting the actual votes in this contest have watched somewhat more closely than you?

I'll take that in three parts if you don't mind

How closely am I watching ??? I was able to name and locate the seven "Stans" on a map before September 11, 2001. I've known the difference between Shia and a Sunni for 2 decades. I watched the Afghanistan adventure from the day the Soviets invaded. I've been a fan of M T Wheeler since the Plame affair began. And I was one of the first voices on the internets calling for the release of KKKarl rove's sf-312. I think I been watching closer than most

what do I consider "Leadership" ??? saying AND doing the right thing, no matter how unpopular doing the right thing may be

you could suggest that the people actually casting the votes might be watching this more closely, but you have to admit that those persons are acting out of different motives than I hold. I'm not concerned with anybody's reelection, and I don't give much loyalty to any politician

and yo, Adam B:

Kagro, let's not clue "freepatriot" into the fact that the biggest "Money" person among the House Dems is . . . Nancy Pelosi.

I know Pelosi is a front for the monied interests, but I can't change that right now. Murtha or Hoyer is where the fight is, so that's where we can make an impact

I don't care about maintaining a majority in 2008, or anything else. I want my soldiers out of harm's way

Making Jack Murtha the Majority leader keeps that arguement front and center, and that's good enough for me

a short term gain can be turned into a long term benifit if we support our troops by bringing them home

anything that makes george bush uncomfortable makes me happy right now

Of course they're acting out of different motives than you hold. Everyone knows that.

But they're the ones acting, here. So it'll be their definition of "leadership," whatever that means to them this week, that counts.

I'm not sure what watching the "stans" has to do with knowing who Steny Hoyer is, though. I don't think anybody was questioning whether or not you had the ability to absorb and retain knowledge. The question was whether you were watching Congressional "leadership" as closely as Members of Congress were. Or at all, really. Because it doesn't take much to know who Hoyer is.

Jodi: I don't need to make up my mind at all. I don't vote in this race. And if I did, I'd likely equate the two concepts, at least partially, the way most Members do.

Nobody disputes that Pelosi has strong reason to prefer Murtha over Hoyer. The issue is that if opposition to the Iraq war is what Murtha brings to the table, then it ought to be examined in terms of its real value. For Members opposed to the war from the beginning, that's near zero, from a personal standpoint. Doubtless there will be some who are willing to give him more credit, since they'll gain in personal power as members of the majority. But others who, like many of us, find nothing particularly compelling about Hoyer, might also find nothing particularly compelling about Murtha.

Netroots types will wonder how that can be possible, and find themselves distraught when progressive heroes cast votes for Hoyer.

This is how that can be possible. The great gift of freedom to criticize Iraq was no gift at all to staunch progressives. That puts the race back to dead even, plus whatever weight Hoyer's cash carries with it.

Well, there's this.

Progressives were anti-war from the beginning. They might well want some personal credit for that, and they might well resent seeing a johnny-come-lately get so much reward for having eventually been right, when they were right all along. If I understand Kagro's argument at all, that's a big chunk of it.

On the other hand, presume that they don't just want personal rewards for having been right; presume that they also think their position was right, care about the antiwar position, care about the substance of the argument, and care about being able to win it. Murtha has undeniably helped advance their own argument, much farther than they could have advanced it themselves. Yes, he took their ball and ran with it, and yes, he's getting a lot of glory for that and they're not; but, he did carry their ball a hell of a long way, and these progressives presumably care about the success of their arguments in addition to caring about the success of themselves as individuals. Murtha won an argument for them that they were not really winning alone. He overshadowed them, but he also turned their own ideas into the plurality position in the country. The Congressional Black Caucus, for instance, may have been antiwar, but they also know they weren't going to win this argument on their own. Murtha joined the team late, but the team was not winning when he joined, and he did an awful lot after he joined to deliver the win. Progressive members of congress are presumably aware of all of those facts together. It seems to me that from a progressive congressman's standpoint, and just narrowly considering these issues, it ought to be at worst a wash for Murtha.

The seniority-ladder part of the argument is something else, and legit. En contra to that though, progressives have reason to support and strengthen Pelosi, and installing Murtha as wingman is universally understood as strengthening Pelosi. Now, I'm assuming that a strong Pelosi is to the benefit of progressive policy interests (as compared to a weak Pelosi and a strong Hoyer), and I'm assuming that progressive congresscritters are strongly motivated by the prospect of their policy interests being advanced. Maybe their own leadership possibilities, and their own K street donations, and their own bridges and pork projects, and/or who-knows-what-else is more important. But presuming that progressive congresscritters care a lot about policy... well, Pelosi and Murtha, separately and together, have been good for progressive policy, haven't they? Isn't that a serious argument in their favor?

Of course, it might also be the obvious argument, which may be why Kagro isn't bothering to make it and instead is making the counterintuitive counterpoint. But, it's too late for me to worry about that now.

The reason I went looking for the counter is that while all the straight-up arguments for progressive support of Murtha make sense, most of them are committing to Hoyer.

We should probably give some thought to why that is. If it's not intuitive, then counterintuitive is a good place to start looking.

Placing Murtha in a visible postion wont keep Iraq front and center. You have to realize the Repubs AND the media want to paint the Dems with the corruption brush. That's the hot issue right now. If Murtha wins we'll be hearing about the culture of corruption for two more years and nothing gets done in Iraq.

Here's something to consider in this race. If you look at the liberal-conservative rankings on voteview (http://voteview.com/hou109.htm), you will notice that Murtha is at 185 (making him among the most conservative Democrats) and Hoyer is tied for 143, putting him putting him on much closer to the middle of the road for Democrats (although still on the conservative side of the party, among his neighbors are Harmon, Menendez, and Emanuel). Voteview's rankings aren't perfect (Bernie Sanders at 51?), but they work better than anything else I've seen. I think some of the liberal reluctance towards Murtha is ideological (the war issue notwithstanding).

I think this contest ultimately is between Pelosi and Hoyer. If Murtha wins, Pelosi is in complete control of the caucus (mostly a good thing, in my opinion). The only downside to the whole thing is the possibility of it becoming acrimonious (Moran is not helping anybody on that count).

KX, OT, I know you were watching Hepting; there is a hearing Friday morning before judge VWalker. As you know, this was the case post ipso facto consolidated with a packet of other cases, and Walker had written a very thorough opinion denying the government's MTD. It was related distantly to the Anna Diggs Taylor case which 6th appeals stayed; she having written a hasty, albeit eloquent and lengthy, opinion which like Walker's had chastized the wire tap. Little chance Specter will concoct his protection for this program; and DeWine's version likely is moot, the author now being a lame duck. Story about the Friday hearing. I would like to revisit this thread about leadership, when the current crunchtime computing here at Placidity is somewhat further resolved. Billable hours, as they are called.

I like Murtha!

Kagro, continuing the OT abstract. For some excessively optimistic reason Specter is trying to hawk neoFISA again in this lameduck session; I think it is a combination of many factors mostly all in the executive branch impelling him to help muddy the waters as Odah, Boumediene, and alMarri cases all are in play this week, the admin adjusting the after halftime playbook to push MCA as a "rebuke"; maybe their meaning is so unilateral that they forget Scotus might do something besides acquiesce and forget Padilla, Rasul, and Hamdan cases; speaking of which, as you know, likely, Padilla has a peculiar plea going, wanting to discuss precisely what it is MCA lets jailers do; then there is Kurnaz's similar argument and European sentiment urging German inspectors general to review German gendarmes' part in that rendition. I have to look at Murtha's view of the House version of the December 2005 torture prohibition amendment; Pence and Barton and DeLay voted nay; Inhoff, Murtha, and Hoyer all were yea's, siding with McCain; though the signing statement 11 months ago canceled the amendments viability after DTA passed.

The Hoyer vs Murtha choice elicited an interesting spectrum of concerns so far. Maybe my local Representative the BlueDog member will emerge as a DarkHorse; he hobnobbed with Gephardt. I think Pelosi has to enjoy the blur her choice caused in the analyses; and she is loyal.

On senate side, there is a new stir over some rejected judge re-renominations. I think the administration still thinks it needs to fill courts with conservatives; one of the nominees is criticized for using state law to refuse to publish hundreds of his opinions, incurring wrath of some influential political organizations. The way this flurry has burgeoned I would expect Frist to go nuclear, now that he nears retirement in a few weeks.


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