Just days after winning control of the House and Senate, Democrats have stopped gloating over their victory long enough to turn on each other in a spasm of self-destructive behavior.
To start their triumphant march towards January, when they will assume actual control over the House, Democrats handed Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi a humiliating defeat in her first effort to assert her control of her party.
By a vote of 140 to 86, they rejected her hand-picked candidate to be Majority Leader, the ethically challenged John Murtha, and elected her current number-two man in the leadership, Steny Hoyer, with whom she has anything but a cordial relationship.
Some of her apologists whisper that she really didn’t mean it when she sent a letter to the Democrat House membership giving Murtha a ringing endorsement, or when she made a speech nominating him for the post, or when she directly intervened by urging Democratic freshmen — all of whom are dependent on her for key committee assignments — to vote for Murtha. She was just going through the motions for a long-time ally, they insist.
That alibi loses steam when you consider the fact that she made those endorsements as the Speaker-to-be, not as San Fran Nan, the darling of Haight-Ashbury and fanatic liberals everywhere else. She put her prestige on line in her very first attempt to assert her leadership in the Democratic caucus, and she got slapped in the face for her pains.
This, however, was merely one of a number of instances of Nancy Pelosi driving the leadership bus over her colleagues.
Her attempt to settle old scores by throwing Steny Hoyer under the bus was only one of her vindictive acts. The fact that he got up, brushed himself off and climbed aboard as her co-pilot does nothing to free her from the consequences of her attempt to crush him.
It will come back to haunt her whenever she tries to push through some hare-brained piece of far-Left legislation and finds herself facing strident opposition from the moderates and Blue Dog Democrats emboldened by having given Hoyer a nearly two-to-one victory over her pet candidate.
Another of her hit-and-run victims is Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and obvious candidate for the committee Chairwomanship. Harman is not Pelosi’s cup of tea and thus is to be passed over, apparently, in favor of Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat whose principal qualification for the job is that as a federal judge he was once impeached and convicted of bribe-taking by the House and tossed off the bench with even Rep. Pelosi among those finding him guilty.
Pelosi is not alone in the game of cannibalism now rife among Democrats. Sharp-tongued Democratic strategist James Carville stopped castigating Republicans long enough to say his party should dump Howard Dean as DNC chairman because he’s incompetent.
It’s going to be an interesting next two years.
©2006 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Cari Dawson Bartley email Cari@cagle.com (800) 696-7561.