Thursday, November 16, 2006

Let the Fallout Begin!

The Democrats in the House made history. They named Nancy Pelosi the first woman Speaker of the House in US history.

Then they knee-capped her.

The WP has the story:
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) was elected House majority leader this morning, defeating Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi's candidate, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.).

Hoyer won the No. 2 leadership job easily -- 149 to 86. But the showdown divided the Democratic House caucus only a week after the party won a majority of seats in the Congress that convenes in January. Before the caucus vote, a number of Democrats had complained that Pelosi and her allies used strong-arm tactics and threats to try to elect Murtha to the job.

Democrats this morning unanimously chose Pelosi (D-Calif.) to be the speaker of the House. She will be the first woman to hold that post.

Voting behind closed doors, House Democrats also elected Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) as majority whip, the No. 3 leadership post. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) was chosen as Democratic Caucus chairman, replacing Clyburn, and Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) was picked to continue as caucus vice chairman.

"We've had our differences in our party," Pelosi told reporters after the voting. "We have come together." She hailed Hoyer's "stunning victory" and said she looked forward to working with him "in a very unified way to bring our country to a new direction for all Americans, not just the privileged few."

Pelosi said she was "proud to support [Murtha] for majority leader, because I thought that would be the best way to bring an end to the war in Iraq." She noted that Murtha had come out against the war a year ago and said he "changed the debate in this country in a way that I think gave us this majority." As for the contest for majority leader, she said, "We've had our debates; we've had our disagreements in that room. And now, that is over. . . . Let the healing begin."

Hoyer pledged to promote "an agenda of change" that will tell President Bush: "we need to make a transition in Iraq; it is not working; we need to change the policy, not stay the course."

Murtha, who is slated to take over as chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, said he would work with party leaders "to redeploy and to get these troops out of Iraq and get back on track and quit spending $8 billion a month." He said U.S. military commanders "know there's a limitation to military power. They know that it's time for us to redeploy."

Murtha, 74, a former Marine who was among the first on Capitol Hill to call for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, may have hurt his own chances Tuesday night when he derided the Democrats' ethics and lobbying package before saying he would push for its passage anyway out of deference to Pelosi. His statement, at a gathering of conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats, was cited by Hoyer backers as further proof that Murtha's controversial ethics record disqualifies him to lead the party in a new political era.
Lyndon B. Johnston could win anything in a backroom. His legendary capacity to cajole, twist arms, and gain concessions from fellow Senators behind closed doors ensured his political success in Congress.

Ms. Pelosi has just failed her initial back-door deal-crafting.

She's done worse than that, whether she knows it or not.

The Democrats had the Republicans reeling. Instead of assisting her party in consolidating their position, she needlessly divided them before she took up the gavel. She's given her opposition an opportunity to continue wedging her own caucus. She's also demonstrated that she doesn't wield the kind of influence she'll need in order to unite her party in the House.

The "Blue Dog" democrats just served her notice. They're not rolling over and playing dead now that they're in the seats. Ms. Pelosi has just told Washington and the world that she can't control them. That means other representatives in her faction may think twice before giving the first female Speaker a blank check.

If the Republicans are smart, they'll do--absolutely nothing. At least, for now.

Later, when an opportunity arises where they can collaborate with the "Blue Dogs", they should seize the day.

In the meantime, fire up the popcorn and enjoy the new boss' first meltdown. It already looks like an interesting two years!