Thomas Edsall's op-ed in today's New York Timesis a Broderesque piece of inside baseball that ignores ongoing events described on the front page of the very paper in which his column appeared. It is a major disappointment from a journalist who once displayed independent thought and judgment.
Edsall makes some valid points. He is correct that appointing Alcee Hastings to head Intelligence would be a serious mistake. He is, presumably, correct that there are 17 newly elected House Dems who represent districts that W carried by 54% or more. These minor premises, however, do not come close to supporting his major premise.
Edsall spends almost 2 paragraphs essentially stating that including funding for Midnight Basketball in the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill was a major cause of the Democrats' disastrous losses that November. For some reason, I have this recollection that the abject failure of the WH to obtain passage of a health care bill that had become its signature issue was a slightly bigger cause. Outrage over the Congressional Bank Overdraft Scandal and other indicia that 40 years of House control had made the Dems out of touch was also a bigger factor.
Regardless of what did or did not happen in 1994, those events are of marginal relevance today. The Clinton WH did not push the country into a war of choice against a country that posed no threat to the US and then totally screw up the operation in almost every way possible. The Bush WH did. American troops were not faced w/ the impossible task of refereeing a civil war under Clinton. They have faced that task for several months now under Bush, and they are apparently expected to do so for the indefinite future.
We've long passed the time in which events are in the saddle and riding this WH. We're at the point in which events have ridden this WH to places that it did not know existed. Under that set of circumstances, whom Nancy Pelosi chooses to chair Intelligence becomes of distinctly secondary concern.
The true vapidity of the piece comes at the end, where Edsall cites Hoyer and Emanuel as the exemplars of the approach the Dems should take. Hoyer was a "stay the course" advocate in Iraq for far too long, and Emanuel tried to avoid making Iraq a major campaign theme for far too long. It is difficult to see, accordingly, why Pelosi should rely on either man as key architects of party strategy.
There's an old saying that the 3 key factors to a successful restaurant are location, location, and location. The 3 key issues to a successful upcoming term for the House Dems are Iraq, Iraq, and Iraq. It is difficult to understand, accordingly, how a piece adressing the prospects of House Dems can essentially ignore Iraq.
If the House Dems help push a visibly recalcitrant WH towards a sense of sanity on Iraq, they will solidify this year's gains for years to come. If they fail to do so, they will face a difficult electoral environment in 2008. By avoiding this fundamental truth, Edsall misses the forest for the trees.