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Is there no one else in the House Democratic Caucus who would be a better Majority Leader than Steny Hoyer or John Murtha?

Look, I like John Murtha's stance on Iraq. On that one issue he's a hero in the party. And, given that, I could even put up with his otherwise conservative voting record under normal circumstances.

But, now we find out that not only is Murtha a conservative on just about every other issue aside from Iraq, but he is also tainted by the appearance of corruption, and even went so far as to work with the Republican majority to scuttle several important Democratic reform proposals.

According to the New York Times:

In the last year, Democratic and Republican floor watchers say, Mr. Murtha has helped Republicans round up enough Democratic votes to narrowly block a host of Democratic proposals: to investigate federal contracting fraud in Iraq, to reform lobbying laws, to increase financing for flood control, to add $150 million for veterans' health care and job training, and to exempt middle-class families from the alternative minimum tax.
So, other than his Iraq war stance, and his obvioius loyalty to Nancy Pelosi, he has nothing to recommend him to the position of Majority leader.

And, what really worries me is that I believe it is in everyone's political interests in Washington to take Iraq off the table as a major issue for the 2008 campaign. I am absolutely certain that we will be out of Iraq in some way by the end of next year.

All of the Presidential contenders in the Senate and the House do not want Iraq hanging over their heads. And the Democrats certainly want serious progress in getting out of Iraq by 2008 so they can hold onto their majorities.

That's the GOOD news.

The bad news is the impact Iraq will have on the House Democratic Caucus and the Majority leader's race. Sure, John Murtha is great on Iraq. But what happens when Iraq is not the number one issue any longer? What kind of majority leader will Murtha make at that point? He's actively pro life. Not passively so, as John Bonior was.

He's also very conservative on a whole host of other issues.

So I don't necessarily see Murtha as a good fit for the Majority Leader going into the 2008 elections and beyond.

As for Steny Hoyer, ugh!

The man is closer to Joe Lieberman on Iraq than Howard Dean. And he's also against Net Neutrality, and was a big supporter of the Bankruptcy Bill we all loathe.

He's also a rival of Speaker Pelosi's and has his own turf to protect. Will he actually work with Pelosi? Or will he backbite and undermine her within the caucus and with the press every chance he gets in order to move up to the speaker's chair?

We desperately need a compromise candidate that everyone can support. Someone who more accurately reflects the priorities of the House Democratic Caucus, but who also commands respect from all sides of the ideological spectrum.

I don't think Rahm Emmanuel is that guy. It might be Jim Clyburn. A guy I like alot in that spot would be David Obey. But I am sure other people have their favorites.

The point is, we desperately need better choices.

UPDATE: Arianna Huffington reports that the race between Hoyer and Murtha is razor thin close right now.

Of the two, my money's on Murtha because I can't see the Democrats screwing over Speaker Pelosi this early. The signal that would send would terrible, and it would completely undermine her authority.

That being said, I don't like either of them, as this diary makes pretty clear.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jerome Armstrong reports that his hill sources are telling him Murtha has the votes.

Originally posted to Hesiod on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 06:37 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Geebus (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bawbie, NYFM, Jay Elias, kraant

    I cannot wait for this teacup tempest to go away.

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 06:39:30 AM PST

  •  Clearly we can't... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geekesque, kraant would seem that they are the two people who want the job.

    And I can hardly blame the rest of the Democratic Representatives.  It sure seems like a crap job.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 06:40:22 AM PST

  •  Let's draft Barney Frank. (9+ / 0-)

    My God, it'd be fun to watch him as Majority Leader.

    He's the smartest person in the whole Congress, and he'd give the Republicans fits running circles around them.

    We are a party of innovation...We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better future. --Barbara Jordan

    by wmtriallawyer on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 06:43:42 AM PST

  •  They're not our choices. (15+ / 0-)

    We're not voting. This is an interpersonal, political and financial calculation being made by the Members of the Democratic Caucus, for the Members of the Democratic Caucus.

    Hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars are doled out in these races. Candidates don't just show up and say, "maybe they'll vote for me."

    Our Caucus leaders don't get elected for their "leadership skills," except insofar as campaign cash (and sometimes particularly helpful stump support) are proxies for that leadership.

    •  It's a game of inside baseball. (4+ / 0-)

      Far as I know, nobody went into the voting booth saying "I voting for the Democrat because he/she will vote for Murtha/Hoyer for Majority Leader."

      I'll be glad when this thing is behind us later this week, so we can actually concentrate on the important stuff.

      You know, governing.

      We are a party of innovation...We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better future. --Barbara Jordan

      by wmtriallawyer on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 06:46:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  wmtriallawyer, governing is why we're worried.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Trix, sbdenmon, Granny Doc

        Nobody here is worried that our choice of Majority Leader in and of itself costs us politically.

        The concern is that a bad choice will lead to bad governing.  Which would be bad for the country in addition to eventually costing us politically.

        No, the sky isn't falling, and Pelosi herself might be strong enough to keep the caucus together without having to worry about the Majority Leader...this was certainly the case when we had the likes of Tip O'Neill running the show.  But there is a legitimate concern here.

        In a time of war, is that really the time to be asking whether we should be at war?...When it is over we should ask whether we should leave. -- Stephen Colbert

        by DCCyclone on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 06:54:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Governance is more (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pHunbalanced, jorndorff

          than Majority Leader.  That's my point.

          We've got a slew of committee chairs that are going to wield the gavel (Conyers, Waxman, et. al.) with one thing in mind: oversight.

          Whoever is Majority Leader doesn't change that fact.  The return to committee power is what matters...not whether Murtha or Hoyer or whoever is Majority Leader.

          We are a party of innovation...We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better future. --Barbara Jordan

          by wmtriallawyer on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:01:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  honeymoon is over, I see. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We didn't replace the whole caucus in the House, just a bunch of Republicans.

          No one should be surprised that this Democratically-controlled, anti-Iraq-war, oversight-hungry Congress is not going to fulfill our every wish.

          No one should be surprised that the ethics scandals do not stop at the center aisle.

          Open your eyes. We and the country are still 1000% better off.

          Let's move on to how we are going to keep helping the DINO's see the light on other issues, and be the first to call for the heads of any Democrat with a real (not trumped-up) ethics problem.

          Amy Klobuchar, Tim Walz, Ann Lynch, Tina Liebling... it's Democrats all the way down!

          by uffdalib on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:05:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  But leadership skills MATTER...... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bayside, Granny Doc

      Kagro, you might be right about what the factors actually are that are driving this right now, but it really is important to the success of the new Dem House to have strong leadership skills at the top.  I have a feeling Pelosi will have them, and maybe we'll find out that's enough.  But it's a risk to pick a Majority Leader who isn't able to keep the caucus together behind a unified agenda on at least the top major issues.  And it's a further risk to put someone in that job who down the road could be viewed as having the same ethical problems as the scofflaws we just replaced.  We have to worry about both of these things with Hoyer.  And we have to worry about at least the latter with Murtha.

      In a time of war, is that really the time to be asking whether we should be at war?...When it is over we should ask whether we should leave. -- Stephen Colbert

      by DCCyclone on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 06:51:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They matter. (0+ / 0-)

        They're just not that often used in making these decisions.

        To Members of Congress, "leadership" is manifested by helping you get elected. So that's how they measure it when leadership races come up.

        •  Yep. (4+ / 0-)

          This is not our battle, and it's not about ideology.  Heck, is there anyone more reliably liberal than Charlie Rangel and Jerry Nadler?

          Rep. Charles Rangel of Harlem, who called Mr. Murtha "a friend" and received support from him in 2004 in his push for the reinstitution of a military draft, said yesterday that Mr. Murtha would make a good majority leader. But Mr. Rangel is going to vote for Mr. Hoyer.

          "My kind of politics is, if you do your job, you are supposed to be rewarded," Mr. Rangel, who was one of 105 co-sponsors of Mr. Murtha's resolution to redeploy American troops in the Middle East in 2005, said. "I think Steny has done his job. I cannot think of any reason why this is happening." . . .

          Rep. Timothy Bishop, a Democrat of the eastern portion of Long Island who was a co-sponsor of Mr. Murtha's Iraq resolution, said he is supporting Mr. Hoyer mainly because Mr. Hoyer helped keep the caucus together during the campaign.

          Rep. Eliot Engel, whose district includes parts of the Bronx and Rockland and Westchester counties, said he is backing Mr. Hoyer because "you dance with the one who brung ya."

          The current chief deputy whip, Rep. Joseph Crowley, who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, is also among Mr. Hoyer's supporters. While Mr. Murtha was instrumental in helping Democrats take control of the House, Mr. Crowley said, Mr. Hoyer has been working on Democratic House campaigns year in and year out. Mr. Crowley said of Ms. Pelosi's endorsement of Mr. Murtha: "It is her saying she supports him. It is not her asking others to support him."

          Other Hoyer supporters include newly elected Rep. John Hall of the Hudson Valley; Rep. Steve Israel of Long Island; Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn; Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who represents parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan; Rep. Gary Ackerman, who represents parts of Queens and Long Island; and Rep. Jose Serrano of the Bronx.

          •  Rangel is not 'reliable' ... (0+ / 0-)

            he backed down under pre-election pressure from BushCo and took repeal of BushCo's tax cuts off the table!

            Grok Your World
            grok: to understand something in a deep and empathic way

            by John Driscoll on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:21:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  you want more? fine. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Maybe one of these folks will convince you that it's not simple:

              Six Hoyer supporters wrote to the 58-member Congressional Progressive Caucus Monday, urging them to support Hoyer over Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) for the post of majority leader and arguing that Pelosi and Hoyer would be an effective team in spite of her endorsement.

              “Steny has worked very well with Nancy and our entire leadership team, and their efforts have helped our Caucus achieve greater unity than at any time in the last half century,” wrote Progressive Caucus Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

              The lawmakers’ support also underscored Hoyer’s liberal bona fides on such issues as abortion rights and environmental protection, key areas where Hoyer and Murtha differ.

          •  That's some list. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Adam B, wmtriallawyer, sbdenmon

            If you're not particularly impressed with the all-around ideology of the candidates (and I hasten to point out that nobody cares if that's so), you'll be looking to who did what to get us the majority.

            Murtha was doubtless instrumental. But he hasn't always been. Hoyer has provided a lot of the money that has fueled the races that Murtha was able to influence. They both put an enormous amount into this cycle. Murtha with campaign appearances and Hoyer with cash.

            Just a few weeks ago, we were tearing our hair out about getting Dems to dole out their unspent cash. That was the critical difference, in our minds, in giving us a shot at going over the top. Hoyer has invested millions over the years in cultivating this majority. Murtha has put his name on the line, to be sure, but we're talking about one cycle here.

            That's why you're seeing serious liberals who are otherwise strong Pelosi supporters backing Hoyer.

  •  Have a "recommend" on me, Hesiod...... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kraant, Granny Doc

    I agree with your every word.  Thanks.

    In a time of war, is that really the time to be asking whether we should be at war?...When it is over we should ask whether we should leave. -- Stephen Colbert

    by DCCyclone on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 06:46:37 AM PST

  •  Yeah, it's two AWFUL candidates. (6+ / 0-)

    K-Street whore and a DINO who saw the light on Iraq.

  •  Murtha's gonna get it. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Trix, Delirium, theran, PBen, va dare

    Because of Iraq and because he's a Pelosi supporter. But just barely.

    Pelosi is taking control of the caucus.

  •  How about Maxine Waters-!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Exactly what I have been thinking ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Granny Doc, sashalina

    It almost makes me sympathetic to Joe Lieberman. NOT!

    Here is a free link to the NYT front page article on Murtha from last month:

    NY Times: "Trading Votes for Pork Across the House Aisle," by David D. Kirkpatrick, October 2, 2006.

    And a year ago, my colleague at Grok Your World cautioned against glorifying Murtha.

    Grok Your World
    grok: to understand something in a deep and empathic way

    by John Driscoll on Tue Nov 14, 2006 at 07:01:21 AM PST

  •  Can't we phrase things more gently??? (0+ / 0-)

    I don't know if I approve of everything in Murtha's record, but he's a decorated veteran who stood up to the Bush administration when it really mattered, at great personal risk.

    It's fine to find fault with his record or Hoyer's, but why are people here (in the comments as well as the diary) using terms such as "ugh," "DINO" and "awful" about the members of our own team at this particular point in the game?

    Even if we see that Democratic representatives have done this or that thing that we dislike under Republican majority rule, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll behave the same way under Democratic majority rule. Maybe the mere fact that Pelosi is speaker will give some apparent DINOs the political backing the need to tilt more toward the left.

    So, criticize records. Call for the emergence of another candidate for majority leader. But how about trying to phrase all this in a way that you would try to phrase loving criticism or analysis of Markos, not the way you would write about Karl Rove?

    •  I thought my diary did that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Granny Doc, JFinNe

      I stuck strictly to their records, and their interpersonal professional relationships with Nancy Pelosi (which are highly relevant).

      •  Mostly, your diary is OK, except maybe (0+ / 0-)

        for the statement that:

        So, other than his Iraq war stance, and his obvioius loyalty to Nancy Pelosi, he has nothing to recommend him to the position of Majority leader.

        But some of the comments are worded in an entertaining way that's just too harsh for this particular context.


        Yeah, it's two AWFUL candidates.

        K-Street whore and a DINO who saw the light on Iraq.

        I think if we use that kind of rhetoric a lot, maybe we'll end up pushing Democratic officials away, toward the soothing, smiling voices of the lobbyists, just by being smart alecks, not really because of ideological differences.

        If I were Murtha and I saw a diary calling me "too conservative," I would shrug.

        If I were Hoyer and I saw a diary that called me a "whore," I might get annoyed. Similarly, if I were Murtha and saw a comment that called me "DINO," just a few weeks after everyone on Daily Kos was hailing me as the messiah, I might get annoyed.

        Of course, people here have a right to be smart alecks. I don't think the smart alecky comments should be troll rated. But I just think it would be good to let the Democrats find their bearings in Congress before writing about them the way we'd write about Karl Rove.

  •  Speaking of Maxine Waters... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B
  •  After reading everything (0+ / 0-)

    I think Pelosi to be able to be effective needs Murtha.  Murtha the can reign in the Blue Dogs to her side.

    What is coming out now anti-Murtha revelations--I am sure Pelosi is aware of this and still thinks Murtha will serve her better.

    So I am for what Pelosi wants.

  •  Why oh why do the Dems have to fight so publicly (0+ / 0-)

    I really wonder why this melodramatic feud over internal matters had to be done in such a public way.  I realize that there are high stakes, that the position of majority leader is important, but couldn't Pelosi have avoided releasing a letter formally stating her position?  Every sentient being in DC knew her position, but now she risks--in the event that Murtha does not have the caucus votes--getting off to a bad start.  It's just clumsy, and reinforces the caricature of Dems as fractious and uncoordinated.

    Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I don't recall the GOP beginning their tenure post-1994 with this kind of airing of dirty laundry.  They certainly had their squabbles, but I just don't recall it being so damn public.

  •  keep looking (0+ / 0-)

    I would like to hear more of obey..I agree, I like murtha but he thinks too much like a republican..If we ever want to get anything done , if we want change and people really do want change we better keep looking nancy..

  •  Talk about burying the lede! (0+ / 0-)

    I am absolutely certain that we will be out of Iraq in some way by the end of next year.

    I wish I shared your optimism.  But there's at least one person standing in the way, and he's the person with the most say in the issue, and he's also not up for re-election in 2008.  


    and he was not big on the bankruptcy bill. he did vote for it (AND MURTHA VOTED FOR BANKRUPTCY TOO), but Hoyer has already said that the bill has major issues and needs to be amended.

    and Hoyer is not near Lieberman on Iraq....

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