Thursday, November 29, 2012

House Parties Pick Their Leaders


This was the post I had written for this morning before Barbara Lee, who knows how to count, dropped out; very disappointing. I think the post is still worth running. The progressive battle against the New Dems is far from finished... even if this skirmish was lost.

The House Democrats are so proud that, for the first time evah, a majority of their caucus is made up of women and minorities. In fact, today one of the very best women members, who is also one of the very best minority members, Barbara Lee-- and from the biggest state with the most Democrats in the House (by far)-- is running for Caucus Vice Chair. She is widely expected to lose-- and to lose to a male whitebread figure of old line politics and eye-averting corruption, Queens County, NY Democratic Machine boss Joe Crowley, a longtime anti-Choice bigot who was caught undermining Wall Street reform-- his pockets bulging with K Street checks-- in the House Ways and Means Committee hearings. Are the Democrats hypocrites over that whole diversity thing? Well, sure. They have to pick between the angels and Satan... and they're going for Satan.

Tuesday night they were all getting a good chuckle while Rachel Maddow made fun of the Republicans-- in the video above-- for appointing 19 committee chairs who all... look very much like Joe Crowley. Except Rachel never mentioned Crowley. She castigates bad Republicans-- and she does it better than anyone (she's our era's Walter Cronkite)-- but she leaves the bad Democrats for someone else to castigate. And who, exactly would that be? It sure isn't Chris Matthews; he celebrates and lionizes bad Democrats... the badder the better. Fox? No, all Democrats are bad Democrats over there. Bad Democrats get a pass.

Tuesday the Republicans picked their horrid cast of characters as committee chairs-- people who get the free reelection passes from Steve Israel and it's mostly a reshuffling of the mess from the current session-- Paul Ryan, Buck McKeon, Mike Rogers, Darrell Issa, Fred Upton, Dave Camp... with a sprinkling of "new" chairs who are, for all intents and purposes, perfectly interchangeable with the old chairs: Michael McCaul, Ed Royce, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Sessions, Lamar Smith... Today, as the New Dems seek to cement their control of the Democratic caucus, the Dems pick their own committee top dogs (ranking members rather than chairmen because of Steve Israel's failure to win back the majority).

One of the most watched spots is Foreign Affairs, where this session's ranking member, Likudist Howard Berman, was defeated for reelection by Likudist Brad Sherman, who wants the Foreign Affairs slot but is up against a New Dem (and Likudist), Eliot Engel, for the same slot. The Republicans are teaming up with the New Dems to back Engel, who they recognize as a pushover and who favors the kinds of job-destroying "Free" Trade deals Sherman opposes. [UPDATE: Touchy California Democrats forced Brad Sherman to withdraw from his contest with Engel.]

The voting is by secret ballot-- so we'll never know who backed the good guys and who backed the good guys-- although here's a partial list of the Democrats who Crowley bribed this year (although he's been running for the job for 6 years so it really is just a very partial list).

Joe Crowley would fit in seamlessly; Barbara Lee... not so much

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At 8:07 AM, Blogger David Kowalski said...

The Republicans value seniority less but they have few minority members or women and fewer with some seniority. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is losing her chair after 6 years so her 13 terms go for naught. The only black member is entering his second term. They have no Asians listed on's directory. Mario Diaz Balart is the only other Hispanic with some seniority (entering his 6th term).

That leaves only Jo Ann Emerson (10th term), Kay Granger (9th term), Shelley More Capito (7th term), and 6 termers Marsha Blackburn and Candice Miller.

Strangely, 5th termer Cathy McMorris Rodgers is at the bottom rung of "leadership.

In a year where Democrats made a net gain of 11 seats, Republicans lost 1 of their two black members, 2 of 7 Hispanics and 7 women (only one retired).


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