Harman v Hastings: Blue Dogs to make their move
by skeptic06, Thu Nov 16, 2006 at 11:37:49 AM EST
If you thought Hoyer v Murtha was ugly - well, like Al Jolson said...
The latest (new readers start here) is that the Blue Dogs are coming out of their kennels in force to support Harman in her battle to get the HIC chair over crooked former judge Alcee Hastings, Pelosi's choice for the job.
(According to the piece, Hastings
has support from the Congressional Black Caucus and from a large number of the left-leaning House Progressive Caucus.
The CBC I knew about: but the CPC? Is this pressure from Pelosi, or a racial thing, or what?)
It seems that
Under the rules of the House, the choice of Intelligence chairman is entirely Pelosi's to make. She need not get her pick ratified by the Democratic Steering Committee or by the full Democratic membership.
I had not picked that up before.
The Dogs are planning on following her example, and rushing into print on behalf of their guy:
In a move that would likely incur Pelosi's displeasure, the Blue Dog Coalition -- a phalanx of 44 centrist House Democrats -- is drafting a letter endorsing Harman, a Blue Dog member, for Intelligence Committee chair.
That letter is likely to be released Thursday.
Well, it's now just gone 1630 ET, so there's not too much of the working day left - I can't see any sign.
The Blue Dog gripe, as I've mentioned before, is that they have lost out in House spoils compared with other groups - liberals and the CBC in particular. Apart from Ag, the HIC is the only committee of which a Blue Dog is ranking member.
Now the Dems have the majority, there's real meat on the bones: the upside is worth it for the Dogs to beard the Lioness.
The critical relationship under the microscope is that between Pelosi and the CBC: previous episodes - particularly the production number that followed her decision to kick Mr Cold Hard Cash off Ways and Means - suggest Pelosi is unwilling to challenge the group, even when their demands are politically damaging to the party as a whole.
What the Blue Dogs are doing - it seems - is putting Pelosi on the spot on this unwillingness. And in a case where the choice on the merits seems pretty clear cut.
But the case challenges another worrying element of Pelosi's MO: her apparent willingness to indulge her personal feelings in doing party business.
We saw it in Hoyer/Murtha; it comes up again with Harman/Hastings.
(Does Pelosi have any history with Hastings, or is he merely the chance recipient of favors consequent on Pelosi's desires to kow-tow to the CBC and to shaft Harman?)
Let's hope sanity prevails on Hastings: as I've mentioned before, Reyes is available as a compromise candidate. But I can hardly see he would be acceptable to the Blue Dogs unless Harman got a decent job in compensation. (What might that be?)
(This problem is not exactly a novelty, by the way: I see that I wrote my first piece touching on it on May 15!)
Update [2006-11-16 17:18:22 by skeptic06]:
More sounding off from the Dogs in an AP piece from yesterday.
It has an entertaining explanation for the name - not the one I'd read before:
the group took its name from the old adage that southerners would vote for a yellow dog if he were on the Democratic ballot. A blue dog, they decided, was a moderate or conservative, "choked blue" by the Democrats in the years leading up to 1994.
And Mike Pence (running for Minority Leader - election tomorrow) is keen to stroke their shiny coats and feed them doggy treats:
We  will attempt to restart the old GOP-Boll Weevil coalition that proved so successful in the 1980s to advance President Reagan's revolution. There are Blue Dog Democrats that want to balance the budget, address our nation's abounding debt, strengthen Social Security and protect life and marriage. Our minority will look for opportunities to work with them when there is agreement.
Of course, it's easier said than done, this hands across the aisle insurgency: the rules mightily favor the majority leadership.
But - trashing Harman would surely juice the willingness of Blue Dogs (and other sympathetic mods) to entertain such insurgency.
Update [2006-11-17 6:2:37 by skeptic06]:
The Dogs' letter has emerged!