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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No Good Choice for House Majority Leader

Unfortunately, the choice facing House Democrats as they choose their Majority Leader is the same choice too many americans face when they vote at the polls -- a choice between 'sucks' and 'sucks more.'

In deciding the lesser of two evils, dems have to choose between John Murtha and Steny Hoyer; the former being 'sucks' and the latter being 'sucks more.' In Murtha's favor is the way he broke the ice for moderates in opposing the war. That gained him a lot of friends and name recognition among the antiwar crowd, while making him a target of right wing nuts who accuse him of being 'far left'. Anyone who opposes the war is 'far left.'

At truthdig, Robert Scheer writes:

...Clarity of purpose in getting out of Iraq is all important, which is why the war’s supporters are so desperate to smear forthright critics such as Murtha. Witness Dick Morris joining conservative commentator Sean Hannity in blasting Pelosi for backing Murtha: “He’s a leftist, he’s a cheerleader for, and she could have chosen a centrist,” Morris said on Fox News. “Instead, she chose the most left guy she could find.”

Ridiculous. Murtha, a leftist? Maybe on Iraq, but his record on everything from abortion to gun control to Pentagon budgets makes him an old-school conservative Democrat in this country, as centrist as they come. Of course, pollster operative Morris knows this full well, because it was precisely why Murtha’s call for withdrawal was such a political earthquake.

But Murtha has a real problem -- he's ethically tainted. On the 15th, Murtha had to explain calling an ethics reform package "total crap." TPMMuckraker reports Murtha as telling Chris Matthews, "What I said was, it’s total crap, the idea we have to deal with an issue like this, when. . . we’ve got a war going on and we got all these other issues."

Another congress critter might not have needed to explain the comment, especially someone as gruff and blunt as Murtha. But Murtha carries with him a history of bad ethical calls, both in votes and in actions. He barely escaped ABSCAM, an FBI sting operation that cost six congressman -- mostly Democrats -- their careers and put them up on charges of corruption. Murtha was never charged, but a damned good argument can be made that the only thing that saved him from the fate of his colleagues was better connections -- Tip O'Neill stepped in and headed off investigation before it began.

And his problems continue:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington:

Not only is Rep. Murtha beset by ethics issues, The New York Times reported on October 2, 2006 that he has consistently opposed ethics and earmark reform. [CREW executive director Melanie] Sloan continued, “Rep. Murtha’s opposition to ethics reform does not bode well for future Speaker Pelosi’s promise to enact ethics legislation in the first 100 hours of the new Congress.”

That explains why I classified Murtha as 'sucks', but why does Hoyer 'suck more?' I can't put it better than David Sirota did last December:

Finally, it has been Hoyer who has made a point of actively working against Pelosi on major congressional votes. You remember, it was Hoyer - the Democratic Whip - who refused to whip votes together to try to defeat the corporate-written Central American Free Trade Agreement. When Pelosi tried to build opposition to the disgusting bankruptcy bill, it was Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, who not only didn't whip against the bankruptcy bill, but actually voted for it, after pocketing massive campaign contributions from the banking industry. While Pelosi was taking a stand by voting against the Iraq War, Hoyer was voting for the Iraq War. And when Pelosi worked to keep her caucus together in opposing the GOP Energy Bill, it was Hoyer who voted for the nauseating legislation after pocketing more than $300,000 from energy/natural resource industry cash. That legislation that literally gave away billions of taxpayer dollars to the energy industry profiteers who proceeded to bilk Americans with higher and higher gas prices.

These are the facts of the case - they are not debatable. They are cold hard facts. The second ranking Democrat in the U.S. House is focused like a laser not on winning elections, not on helping his party, but on helping himself by trying to take down the House Minority Leader, even as she shows more and more courage and leadership.

If Murtha is ethically challenged, Hoyer is selfishly ambitious -- often putting his own career above the nation's interests and voting less on principle than self-serving strategy. That's why I'm hoping for Murtha. But it pays to remember that when choosing the lesser of two evils, you're choosing an evil. Murtha should be congratulated for his principled stand on the war and watched like a hawk.


UPDATE: Unfortunately, it's 'sucks more'...

Associated Press:

A Democratic spokeswoman says that House Democrats have chosen Rep. Steny Hoyer as House majority leader, the No. 2 leadership post.

Technorati tags: ; ; ; ; and battle it out for the title, "Lesser of Two Evils"