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Saturday, September 23, 2006

# Posted 6:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WILL PELOSI ADMIT SHE'S A LIBERAL? The president's approval rating hasn't seen the brighter side of 50% in years. Confident liberals installed Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic party and threw their weight behind a successful anti-Lieberman insurgency. So, has the day finally arrived when the Democratic leadership is no longer afraid of the "L-word"?

Apparently not.

Rep. Pelosi sat down for an interview with Jim Lehrer on PBS Thursday night. Here is an exchange from their discussion of the upcoming election:
JIM LEHRER: [Republicans] say, "Do you really want to turn the House of Representatives over to a liberal Democrat from San Francisco?" How do you respond to that sort of thing?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: An Italian Catholic mother of five, grandmother of five, going on six. The focus is the president of the United States. It's him and his policies and that of the rubber-stamp Republican Congress that are the issue.
If I were from San Francisco, I might've been angry at Pelosi for not saying something like "San Francisco is a proud American city that is home to 750,000 patriotic citizens." Hey, that might even help persaude people that liberals are patriotric.

Also, certain feminists might be appalled that Pelosi tried to establish her professional legitimacy by advertising her ability to reproduce. Aren't a woman's ideas supposed to be what determines her credibility as a politician?

But most importantly of all, Pelosi wouldn't say she was a liberal. And this was no accident, since Lehrer followed up by asking the same question again in a different format:
JIM LEHRER: But just in shorthand terms, it is correct to say, is it not, that if the Democrats do take control of House, whether you're speaker or not, it's going to be a more liberal House of Representatives than there is now, correct?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: It's going to be a more bipartisan Congress. It's going to be a more productive Congress. It's going to be a Congress that is about the future. And, yes, that will be a new direction.
Now, one could argue that this is good strategy. Polls consistently show that there aren't enough self-identified liberals to put the Democrats over the top.

But if the Kos-Dean-Lamont message is that Democrats must get tough, can they do so while rejecting a label in public that almost all of them would in private? Can you be assertive if you don't have a clear identity? Or is putting on a different face for the cameras just part of being tough?

In a midterm election, I think that not being the incumbent may well be enough. As Newt Gingrich suggested a while back, the Democrats' slogan should just be "Had enough?"

But when the White House is on the line and there is only one candidate instead of hundreds, it is hard to persuade the electorate of your integrity if you don't know who you are.
(19) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
Republicans want to make Pelosi the campaign issue, and Democrats want to make Bush the campaign issue. Historically, the midterms have always been referendums, and this one doesn't look good for Boy George.

By the way, Pelosi has a vindictive streak, and you really don't want to cross her. But Bush has been wrapping himself in a protective female cocoon, Hughes/Miers/Rice, and it will soon be amusing to watch him do battle with an emasculating woman.
 
I strenuously doubt policy would be much of an issue, if she didn't sound so much like Hugo Chavez on a bender.Those two sound like they're reading from the same playbook. And you know how that's going to go over.

The bottom line here is it's not posi herself but the positions that she takes on such matters as the war on terrorism which causes her so much problem with the voters.
 
Really Nuthead, perhaps you can enlighten us with a few quotes proving your point. Are perhaps not.
 
Um, I think his (or her) name is "Bithead".
 
Point taken. Sorry about that.
 
I'm sorry, but I just can't take the Democrats seriously at all so long as Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) is in line and the officially preferred candidate to take over the Intelligence committee.

It is, in my mind, absolutely unacceptable to hope that Democrats take over Congress so long as that remains true.
 
I'm sorry, but I just can't take the Republicans seriously at all so long as Rep. Rob Ney (R-OH) is still serving in Congress after having pled guilty to a felony.
 
I really don't think the residents of San Francisco would tolerate being called 'patriotic citizens'.

Anon, Republicans are calling for Ney to step down. Hastings was convicted of accepting a bribe while a judge and of perjury during his own trial, yet as John says Hastings is still in line to be chair of the Intelligence Committee.
 
I really don't think the residents of San Francisco would tolerate being called 'patriotic citizens'. I have it on good authority that they would.

Unfortunately with Hastings the problem is fundamentally with the people of his Florida district who keep re-electing him. Still I'm pleased that McKinney finally got the boot from Georgia and DeLay is gone from Texas but not in jail yet.

Republicans are calling for Ney to step down. Are they? Has Hastert stripped Ney of all of his committee assignments? By comparison the Democrats stripped Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson of committee assignments and Dollar Bill hasn't even been charged yet.

Alas, the Constitution has no provision for removing a Congressman except by election. Article I is silent on the issue.
 
Unfortunately with Hastings the problem is fundamentally with the people of his Florida district who keep re-electing him.

Fundamentally? Well, there's also the fundamental problem that the Democratic Caucus, led by Rep. Pelosi, get to decide who is Ranking Member and in line to chair. Rep. Jan Harman was removed from her role and replaced by Rep. Hastings recently. They reshuffled the lineup in order to move Rep. Hastings into that position. Certainly the local voters are responsible for re-electing him, but the Democratic Caucus is responsible for accepting him and letting him be a Ranking Member and potential Committee Chair. Seniority does not have to be absolute, and certainly not on the Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Ney at least stepped down from his committee chairmanship (months before the guilty plea) and is not running again. Would that we could say the same for Rep. Hastings, that he would be disqualified from his (potential) committee chairmanship. I'm not sure, however, if the Democrats have ever reformed their strict committee chairmanship seniority rules or instituted anything like chairmanship term limits.
 
Alas, the Constitution has no provision for removing a Congressman except by election. Article I is silent on the issue.

Actually, that's incorrect. The House retains the ability to expel its own members.
Article I, Section 5.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Now, in practicality, the House has been extremely reluctant to expel members; it requires a two-thirds vote. James Traficant (D-OH) was expelled, however, as was Michael Meyes (D-PA) in 1980. The only other cases were secession-supporters on the eve of the Civil War. Bob Ney ought to be, I agree.

The House can also refuse to seat a member, though that's very rarely used, and ever since Powell v. McCormack (1969) can be used only when there is a general question about the election results. (Though there was a controversy in Indiana(?) in the '80s when the Democratic House voted to seat the Democratic candidate when Indiana had not declared the election over, or something like that. Need to go look it up.)
 
Fundamentally? Yep, fundamentally. Floridians have elected and re-elected Hasting for 18 years since he was impeached as a judge. But remember, we're talking about Florida here, land of Katherine Harris.

...Pelosi, get to decide who is Ranking Member and in line to chair. Rep. Jan Harman was removed from her role and replaced by Rep. Hastings recently. ...

Isn't true. The ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee is Jane Harman. The stuff you're saying is the usual misinformation from NewsMax or the Right Wing news outlet of your choice.

I'm not sure, however, if the Democrats have ever reformed their strict committee chairmanship seniority rules or instituted anything like chairmanship term limits.

It isn't a party rule, it's a House rule. And it was the Republican-led House that removed the three term tenure limit on the HSCI in 2003. And with respect to term limits, it would appear that a lot of Republicans are in violation of the Contract with America by running this fall.

You're right about Article I. So much for text search. My bad. But you would think that this would be something that the Republicans and Democrats would agree on.
 
The stuff you're saying is the usual misinformation from NewsMax or the Right Wing news outlet of your choice.

Ah. My news outlet of choice for this one was, um, The New York Times

At the Intelligence Committee, Representative Alcee L. Hastings of Florida, who was removed from the federal bench in the 1980’s, is in line to take over, although that decision would be the responsibility of Ms. Pelosi and could prove explosive.

The NYT article also notes that the Republicans have passed over seniority in order to choose different chairmen, though the Democrats never to my knowledge have. That has little to do with the three-term-limit for chairmen rules. You have to make a distinction between a rule about how long one can remain a chairman, and the rule that determines which member is a chairman. Also, the bit about it being a "House rule" is a bit disingenous, since the majority adopts the rules.

So I must disagree with your second point.
 
I checked a few outside sources... apparently the Alcee Hastings for Jane Harman switch is because of internal Democratic Caucus term limits, so they say. (Not sure why that wouldn't affect Conyers et al., though.)

http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2006/08/prospective_new.html
 
Also, the bit about it being a "House rule" is a bit disingenous, since the majority adopts the rules.

To explain what I mean here, since an incoming majority could easily change the House rules (and the Republicans under the CWA campaigned on doing so), Rep. Pelosi could easily announce that she would change the appropriate rules so that Rep. Hastings would not be chair. In reality, since it appears that it is a Democratic Caucus rule causing the shift from Rep. Harman to Rep. Hastings, it could easily be changed. However, it's possible that Rep. Pelosi does not want to announce such a change for fear of upsetting Rep. Hastings and his political allies (the CBC, perhaps?). In which case it's fair game for politics, I think.

Also, Rep. Hastings could be assigned somewhere other than Intelligence.
 
John

you did say Rep. Jan Harman was removed from her role and replaced by Rep. Hastings recently and this isn't true.

you also said I'm not sure, however, if the Democrats have ever reformed their strict committee chairmanship seniority rules or instituted anything like chairmanship term limits and I clarified that the term limits were House rules and not party rules.
 
I clarified that the term limits were House rules and not party rules.

No, you muddled the issue. There were no chairmanship term limits before 1994. The chairmanship term limits were adopted as House rules by the incoming Republican majority. The House rules can be changed at any time by a majority of the House, and are generally set exclusively by the majority party.

It's very disingenous to claim that "they're House rules, not party rules." In reality, the House rules are the rules of the majority party; the minority has very little to say about it but can adopt whatever rules for its caucus that it wants.

Therefore, it is entirely up to the Rep. Pelosi and the Democrats to decide what rules the House will adopt if the Democrats win a majority.

It's sort of moot, as the New York Times article I quoted said that it was Democratic caucus rules causing Rep. Hastings to be put in line for chairman of Intelligence. I was indeed initially mistaken; however, it remains that Rep. Pelosi and the Democratic caucus could change those rules at any time or announce intentions to change the House rules if they get a majority.
 
It is precisely because the House pre-1994 had no chairmanship term limits rules that I was wondering whether the Democrats would follow the lead of the Republicans or not. It appears that the Democratic caucus did adopt a form of chairmanship term limits in response to the 1994 changes to House rules made by the new Republican majority, though of course they could change that.
 
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