Wednesday, November 15, 2006

On Tomorrows Majority Leader Vote

Talking Points Memo discusses Murtha's comments regarding ethics reform.
A Roll Call article today quoted Murtha saying of a Democratic ethics reform package, "Even though I think it’s total crap, I’ll vote for it and pass it because that’s what Nancy wants."

With Matthews, Murtha sounded a call for openness as the antidote to corruption. "Transparency. I think that’s the only way to stop it," said the 34-year House veteran, who earlier this year worked to help kill Democratic lobby reform efforts. "And I think the regulations that Nancy’s in favor of were very important. I don’t mean to imply that they aren’t."

Someone at Blue Oregon yesterday made a comment that made a lot of sense to me, that this was going to be Pelosi's House and Pelosi's agenda, unlike the House under Tom DeLay where Hastert was nothing but a tool for the majority leader. Almost the opposite will be true here, Pelosi will set the agenda, and the Majority Leader will be her right hand man in carrying it out. I think that's what Murtha's comments support here, that Murtha will work for Pelosi's agenda, while I've heard speculation that Hoyer and Pelosi have bashed heads in the past and that Hoyer may subvert Pelosi's agenda. I think Murtha's the right choice, but at the end of the day I agree with Earl Blumenauer.
The next 48 hours are going to be a significant test regardless of the outcome. Will Democrats be able to conduct a decision on leadership in a way that is constructive with a minimum of rancor? Will we get the pieces right for the team and be able to make sure that we emerge stronger rather than weaker?

Jack and Steny are going to be fine regardless of what happens. At a minimum each are going to play key roles in an Appropriations Committee that will be energized under the leadership of Dave Obey and key new members. They both will chair critical subcommittees that will deal with important spending priorities. They will both be very powerful voices in our caucus with a devoted following of people who are their friends, admirers, and supporters.

I'm more interested in this as a test for Democrats than for the leadership position itself. Will people have the ability to deal with the selection and then move on in a way that will be the most constructive for our Caucus? Will we find a way to mute and avoid the tendency in close, hard fought contest to make it personal and make it public? I may well be the only person in the caucus who is not trying to persuade people one way or another. Indeed, I may be the only one who is still thinking about my choice and what it represents.

The recent attacks upon Murtha's history regarding ethics bode ill for Blumenauer's hopes, if Murtha wins this I just hope that Hoyer's supporters don't start undermining Murtha and Pelosi, Murtha will fight for ethics reform, the ethics story is old and not a story. Lets see how the vote comes out tomorrow and get to work whoever wins.

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