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