Pelosi and “The Great Slackening”

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006 1:22 pm by Neal
Alcee L. Hastings — Impeached Judge. Proud Florida Congressman. Pelosi and CBC hero.

Before the election, we agreed with HR (see “The Perils of Representation”) on the likelihood that radical, way-out-of-the-mainstream leftists from entrenched, minority districts were positioned to take key House committee leads. Specifically, John Conyers, Charlie Rangel, and most alarmingly, Alcee Hastings were discussed.

Now that the Democrats have taken the House in the elections, we’re seeing this prediction come true. However, it’s not all smooth sailing. After all, it’s one thing to be in the minority and whine and obstruct when it doesn’t mean anything, but as soon as a party takes power it actually has to stand for something instead of fighting everything. Be careful what you ask for, and all of that. Today, Rich Lowry addresses the ramifications of Nancy Pelosi sticking with Alcee Hastings in his article, Harman v. Hastings — The Great Slackening begins.”

If Pelosi bumps Harman, the next in line is Hastings. He is not a security threat in the sense that he will start selling secrets to the Russians [No? Impeached for bribery and a rumored $2 million in debt? — ed], but the symbolism of his running an extremely sensitive congressional committee is, at the very least, gross. Liberal editorial boards, the foreign-policy establishment and the moderate Blue Dog Democrats have all endorsed Harman. Pelosi still might feel compelled to choose Hastings because of his important countervailing endorsement — from the Congressional Black Caucus.

The CBC would consider it a slight for Hastings not to get the job, but what doesn’t the CBC consider a slight? As a compromise, she might pick a Hispanic congressman, thus pleasing the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Why didn’t the Democrats tell us a crucial plank of their national-security agenda would be ethnic bean counting on the intelligence committee?

The Harman-Hastings flap is part of The Great Slackening. That is what happens to a reform party sooner or later after it takes control of Congress. In this case, it looks like sooner. Pelosi had barely uttered her pledge to conduct the most ethical Congress ever, before endorsing the Abscam-tainted, earmark-greedy John Murtha for majority leader. Now she might choose an impeached federal judge as her personal pick to run the intelligence committee.

So, why would Pelosi even consider a ticking scandal-bomb like Hastings in the first place? Lowry addresses that as well, and apparently, Pelosi is always game for a good cat fight.

Harman [Rep. Jane Harman, D-California — ed] is a moderate on national security, noted for her expertise. She has a reputation for bipartisan comity and has worked to pull Democrats to the center on defense and intelligence issues. Hastings, on the other hand, is a former federal judge who, thanks to his involvement in a bribery scheme, is one of only seven judges in history to be impeached by the House and removed by the Senate. He is a left-wing Democrat with an undistinguished congressional record who will certainly be a hyperpartisan leader of a traditionally bipartisan committee.

For most people, this wouldn’t seem a tough choice. For Pelosi, it’s not either — she seems dead set against Harman.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Pelosi and Harman once were friends, but now “the two rarely talk.” The relationship might have been soured by their clashing personalities, or parochial California political considerations, or sheer envy. According to the Times’s tally, Harman has been on major Sunday talk shows 18 times during the past two years to Pelosi’s six appearances.


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