Rep. John Murtha, the anti-war congressman who is the likely new House speaker's pick for majority leader, fended off what he called "swift boat-style attacks" on his ethics record Tuesday.
Yeah, everything is now a "swift boat-style attack" isn't it?
But as Ruth Marcus' piece points out the evidence available is more than opinion:
The videotape is grainy, dark and devastating. The congressman and the FBI undercover agents — the congressman thinks they represent an Arab sheik willing to pay $50,000 to get immigration papers — are talking business in the living room of a secretly wired Washington townhouse.
Two other congressmen in on the deal "do expect to be taken care of," the lawmaker says. But for the time being — and he says repeatedly that he might change his mind and take money down the road — he'd rather trade his help for investment in his district, maybe a hefty deposit in the bank of a political supporter who's done him favors.
"I'm not interested — at this point," he says of the dangled bribe. "You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't, you know." Indeed, he acknowledges, even though he needs to be careful — "I expect to be in the [expletive] leadership of the House," he notes — the money's awfully tempting. "It's hard for me to say, just the hell with it."
You remember ABSCAM don't you? You don't? You need to read up on it. But suffice it to say, it's not exactly the best reference for the guy who wants the No. 2 job in the new "corruption-busting" Democratic House.
The point? Marcus again:
Sorry, but I'm not buying Murtha's argument that he's the victim of a "Swift-boating attack" over "unfounded allegations that occurred 26 years ago." On its own, Murtha's Abscam conduct is disqualifying.
This is important to watch for a number of reasons, but, primarily, it is Nancy Pelosi tying to put her stamp on the incoming leadership. Should Steny Hoyer win over her endorsed candidate, it would weaken her politically. If she manages to get Murtha elected, it will most likely weaken her as well, something it don't think she yet understands.
The biggest puzzle, and biggest disappointment, in all this is Pelosi, who was pitch-perfect in her first several days as speaker-elect. Now comes this lose-lose move.
If she gets her way and helps Murtha win a come-from-behind victory against Maryland's Steny Hoyer in tomorrow's leadership election, she's buying herself — and the Democratic caucus — endless news stories about Murtha's ethics. If, as he says, Hoyer has the votes, Pelosi has made herself look weak within the caucus — not a smart move for any new leader, and certainly not for the first woman in the job. Perhaps the late timing and measured phrasing of Pelosi's endorsement were meant to ensure that it would have little impact. If so, Pelosi failed to recognize that once she weighed in, the vote for majority leader would inevitably be seen as a gauge of her clout.
I wrote a few weeks back that Pelosi's first test as speaker would be whether she picks Florida's Alcee Hastings — who was removed from his federal judgeship for agreeing to take a bribe — to head the intelligence committee. As it turns out, I was wrong. Pelosi's first test was how to handle Murtha. Whatever happens tomorrow, she flunked. Whether she'll get another failing grade on Hastings remains to be seen.
Yes indeed, not even in power yet and already a brouhaha over leadership, image and intent. As Marcus points out, Murtha is a poor choice and makes Pelosi look suspect. Put Hastings in charge of the Intel committee and Pelosi no longer looks suspect, she looks pretty bad. And, of course, given their records concerning bribery, she has just undermined any credibility she might have addressing such things as ethics and sweeping corruption out of Washington.
As Marcus says "lose-lose". The Hill summarizes the stakes thusly:
By throwing her full weight behind Murtha, Pelosi risks suffering an early setback with her colleagues if Hoyer wins; however, a Murtha victory would cement her total control.
The one thing you can say is she has the guts of a river-boat gambler. I'm just not at all sure of the reasoning behind these moves however ... and apparently, neither are a bunch of other people, to include Democrats.
UPDATE: More good stuff from Nancy Pelosi's home district newspaper:
Pelosi's pledge to Murtha was a risk not only because of potential strains with Hoyer loyalists, but because it turned the spotlight to concerns involving Murtha's relationships with lobbyists whose companies received a combined $100 million federal earmarks that Murtha helped secure. A Washington Post story on Tuesday detailed how the largest featured recipient of earmarks, the PMA group, had contributed more than $200,000 to Murtha's campaign in each of the last three election cycles. Also, Murtha's brother was a senior partner in a consulting firm that received a $4.2 million earmark — allegedly with Murtha's assistance — in 2004.
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) told a group of Democratic moderates on Tuesday that an ethics and lobbying reform bill being pushed by party leaders was “total crap,” but said that he would work to enact the legislation because Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports it.
If she gets her way and helps Murtha win a come-from-behind victory against Maryland’s Steny Hoyer in tomorrow’s leadership election, she’s buying herself — and the Democratic caucus — endless news stories about Murtha’s ethics.
Since the stories haven’t been endless up to now, I’d be surprised if they became that way. We’ll see.
McQ, what you fail to understand is the statute of limitations on integrity. i thought that was obvious. you wouldn’t know swift-boating if landed on you on like a whorehouse full of rocking-chairs on payday.
Well Shark your point is well-taken...can you produce any EVIDENCE that the Senate would have made a DIFFERENT decision in December? Exactly what would be different in December than is different today? From the GOP’s view they need to win a net +2 to take back the Senate...’06 wasn’t a thump’n... I don’t agree but it can be seen that way...
Leading back to what would have changed in December? The Senate GOP would STILL see ’06 as not a bad thing...it seems to me. That’s the problem with them what wanted the GOP to lern themsefff’s a lessun in ’06, what lesson did they learn if any?
Well Shark your point is well-taken...can you produce any EVIDENCE that the Senate would have made a DIFFERENT decision in December? Exactly what would be different in December than is different today?
Maybe nothing but at the least it would’ve been made in DECEMBER, meaning Pelosi’s issues with Murtha; Hastings et al would’ve had nothing on the GOP side to potentially distract. Again, to me I want Dem leadership out there talking it up. When Democrats are Democrats, they will shoot themselves in the foot. And they can’t help but be Democrats. GOP should low key it for awhile.
From the GOP’s view they need to win a net +2 to take back the Senate...’06 wasn’t a thump’n... I don’t agree but it can be seen that way...
All this fighting over positions in the democratic party for both houses of Congress and their leadership positions, does reveal something... it seems clear based on the bloodletting we’re seeing right now, that this is all about attaining power. Personal power.Not for an idea, not for an ideal. Personal power. It’s the only reason they were ever running for their seats in the first place.
There are those who would argue otherwise, among them mostly democrats. And I can een see the counter arguments, to some extent.
But... and understand this clearly... politics in general and voting in particular are about perception. The perception that the Democrats are leaving right now in the taste of the American voter is not going to sit well on the palate in two years.
I agree with this piece. No, really. I wish Nancy P. would pick a third person. I never thought I would back Hoyer over anyone, and I respect Murtha, but his past, unfair though it may be, makes him bad symbolically for this post.
but his past, unfair though it may be, makes him bad symbolically for this post.
I agree and I’m sure you’ll join me in rehabilitating David Duke...as soon as he gets out of that Russian jail...or is one’s past only forgivable if you’re a Democrat Glasnost?
By his past do you mean that LITERALLY, you know that last few nanoseconds... DUDE he’s been earmarking and his brother has been grifting for YEARS to INCLUDE THIS YEAR! His past is only a few months old! So if a very recent past is OK, you really WILL stand for David Duke, right? Because he hasn’t been Grand Kleagle for decades...I think he joined when Robert Byrd quit, but I could be wrong.
Really glasnost? "Rrespect’ him? I do not know him personally, but his attitude, demeanor, and cockiness rub me the wrong way. And watching those abscam videos, I was put back by the mans language. I’m no saint and will drop a choice word here or there, but when I am with a group of people, I choose my words a little more wisely than this ’gentleman’.
And his to paraphrase - "I’d like to leave my options open to be bribed later..."
Yeah glaz, I can see how you can respect that...errrr, not. Surely not man. Don’t defend him just because he’s ’yours’. He may have the same view you do on Iraq, but that doesn’t mean he’s good for your party.