Sunday, November 19, 2006

Power Players

No wonder the U.S. government is so dysfunctional. And no wonder so many people blame Republican’ts for the mess in Washington, D.C.

According to The Telegraph, a British newspaper, the GOP--looking to make a comeback on Capitol Hill after this month’s devastating losses at the polls--is “already co-ordinating plans to attack Nancy Pelosi, the liberal Californian congresswoman and Speaker-in-waiting who suffered a damaging rebuff from her own party caucus last week. The Republican strategy is not only to undermine Mrs. Pelosi’s control of the House but also to associate her in voters’ minds with Senator Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the 2008 Democrat presidential nomination. ‘Two years of Pelosi gives a good idea of what four years of Hillary will be like,’ said Tom DeLay, the Republican powerbroker who ran his party in the House before he was caught up in a lobbyist corruption scandal. ‘They are both committed liberals and we will make that clear to the American people.’”

First of all, as numerous bloggers (and fewer mainstream news sources) have pointed out, Pelosi’s unsuccessful move to install 16-term Representative John Murtha Jr. (D-Pennsylvania), an outspoken critic of George W. Bush’s disastrous Iraq war, as House majority leader in the next Congress, was hardly a unique failure. Back when Newt Gingrich first ascended to the Speaker’s chair, following the 1994 midterm elections, he named a longtime ally, then-Congressman Robert Walker of Pennsylvania, as his pick for GOP majority leader. “As the internal House election drew near,” recalls Specious Reasoning, “Newt was campaigning hard to get Robert the position, but as the votes were counted it was clear that he had failed and the position went to a rival of Newt’s, Tom DeLay. Almost the exact same situation as we have today. At the time the media said nothing about how Newt was damaged goods before he even got the job, none of it.” Yet they’re ready to write Pelosi’s political obituary because the House chose Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) over Murtha for the majority leader’s post? Ridiculous. Almost as outlandish as the Associated Press commenting on Pelosi’s clothes as she walked toward her first post-election news conference. (What, I wonder, was Gingrich wearing to his own first press meeting? Of course, it would’ve been too stupid to comment.)

Secondly, the idea that, even before the 110th Congress convenes in January, Republican’ts are preparing to carpet-bomb Speaker Pelosi’s reputation as a way of undermining a potential presidential race by Senator Clinton is--while hardly unexpected from that group--nonetheless despicable. Although we would hardly know it, given the levels of partisan animus and ugliness purveyed by the GOP over the last 12 years, the purpose of electing men and women to government is not so they can try to cut each other off at the knees. It’s supposed to be so that they can try to solve some of the nation’s manifest, and expanding, problems. Yet, despite a recent election that communicated quite clearly voter unrest with the GOP’s take-no-prisoners, ignore-the-voters strategy for governing, the indicted DeLay and his philosophical brethren in the Republican’t “leadership” on Capitol Hill continue to emphasize their pursuit of power over any efforts to improve the lot of ordinary (read: not wealthy or religiously zealous) Americans.

Gosh, who said the GOP is out of touch?

Let’s hope that the new majority of Democrats in D.C. can rise above such petty games-playing and start to work on behalf of voters, for a change.

READ MORE:Pelosi’s ‘Rocky Start’: The Conventional Wisdom Is Dead Wrong Once Again,” by Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post).

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