November 29, 2006

The Opposite of House Intelligence

They're just out in force today, what can I say. The stupidity of the media coverage of the maneuverings about who's going to chair the House Intelligence Committee have a pH that, by my reckoning, approaches 14.

The useful idiot Susan Estrich makes an insulting feint towards affirmative action:

... Passing over Jane Harman, the top ranking Democrat on the committee, was another matter. The first woman Speaker should not pass over a woman for a key committee chairmanship. It doesnít just look bad. It is bad. It is the reason that the womenís movement hasnít worked.

The problem isnít just that women donít help each other. Itís that they sometimes are the ones who hurt each other most. Our own worst enemies...

Since I wrote last week about Pelosi and Harman, Iíve heard plenty of stories from people, not about Congress, not about Nancy and Jane, but about regular people, smart women, ambitious women, women trying to make it, who have found their way blocked by other women. ...

Estrich argues in the opening of her piece that the ethically damaged Rep. Alcee Hastings would have been a bad choice, and in the wake of the ABSCAM coverage of Rep. Jack Murtha's bid for majority leader, I think we can all agree that this was the right call. However, in her description of the issues surrounding Harman, Estrich manages to both argue for the appointment of someone who's a darling of conservatives and to confirm all the worst stereotypes of feminists as supporting the promotion of women regardless of their qualifications.

Indeed, Rep. Harman is under investigation for possibly allowing the Israeli-backed lobbying group AIPAC to improperly influence a Justice Dept. probe into their activities. Rep. Hastings' unsuitability had to do with a general concern about previous impropriety in a criminal matter. Rep. Harman's unsuitability has to do with the possibility that she's been improperly influenced by the lobbying arm of a foreign government, with some of those lobbyists suspected of sharing sensitive US intelligence with that foreign government.

They're our allies, to be sure, but Israel hasn't been declared a 51st state anymore than Iraq has.

The Wall Street Journal ventures forth with a breathless editorial lead-in and goes on to address nothing of substance beyond the factional backgrounds of the participants:

Moving to end weeks of damaging speculation, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn't appoint Rep. Alcee Hastings, who was impeached as a federal judge, to be the next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. ...

Weeks of "damaging speculation." You mean, like, the three weeks that it's been since the election, before which, no one in the media could have been bothered to care where a given Democrat ended up because they were in the minority? Speculation by whom, that's damaging why? Should Pelosi have simply picked the first congresscritter with pulse that she spotted to chair this important committee, thus allowing her to appear decisive, but perhaps open to damaging speculation that she was mercurial and capricious?

Joel Achenbach in his Washington Post blog manages to be even less informative and far breathier than the WSJ. You half expect the man to have been hearing the words that went into his post whispered into his imagination by the voice Marilyn Monroe used to sing "Happy Birthday" to JFK:

You know all the old jokes about Democrats. When they form a firing squad they stand in a circle. "I'm not a member of an organized political party. I'm a Democrat." The word "fractious" always comes up. Think: Jimmy Carter running for re-election with Teddy pounding on him every day. This kind of thing goes way back, to the early 1790s, when Thomas Jefferson would have furious arguments with himself.

Rumor had it, just months ago, that the Democrats had learned to master the art of party discipline. But now that the Dems are in charge of Congress, what do we read about every day? Internal party dickering, sniping, backbiting. We read about leadership battles, such as Murtha vs. Hoyer. And now we're all on pins and needles about who Speaker Pelosi will pick to run the Intelligence Committee. Such drama!

... But Pelosi still hasn't decided who she'll put in the post -- thus ensuring the continuation of the story, and more discussion of how Pelosi doesn't like so-and-so, or is at odds with such-and-such faction. ...

Yes, the story will continue. Mainly because people like Achenbach are on such pins and needles watching this drama and gleefully recycling political shorthand that fell out of favor during the Gingrich era, that even when Pelosi comes to pick someone, blithering twits like Achenbach will find something new to be twitterpated about.

Spare us.

Posted by natasha at November 29, 2006 04:13 PM | US Politics | Technorati links |

It was truely bizarre listening to the right media talkers repeatedly moaning about the obstruction the Democratic party have been engaging in for the past six years despite the glaring, simple fact that they could do no damage with no power to do anything.

Now we are subjected to these same face-farters flapping on and on about the natural positioning of a party selecting their committee leaders. As though we are listening to their sage advice (or need it), the absolute joy and exageration the decisions of Nancy Pelosi are evoking are very disturbing and far more frustrating as they not so subtlely imply some sort of indecision or 'emotional' female trait is destroying the usually smooth running of our great democracy, at the same time completely silent on the far more retching power grabs of the LOSERS. That IMO would be alot more fun to watch.

Posted by: Susan at November 30, 2006 09:40 AM

Thing I didn't know until today: "The Sept. 11 commission urged Congress to do away with traditional term limits on the intelligence committees to preserve continuity and expertise, a recommendation the House implemented in 2003."

So Harman wasn't actually bound by term limits, at least if this is correct.

Posted by: The Cunctator at November 30, 2006 02:32 PM

Natasha, I may have to steal "twitterpated" for my next post, it's such a good word! Thanks for the link to the Achenblog, where our goal is to elevate blithering to an art form.

Posted by: Joel Achenbach at November 30, 2006 04:19 PM

this is a great blog

Posted by: AutoBlog at December 12, 2006 07:15 PM