Silvestre Reyes to head House Select Intelligence Committee Posted by: McQ
on Friday, December 01, 2006
Nancy Pelosi has decided to avoid the problems Alcee Hastings would bring if appointed to the chair of the House Select Intelligence Committee and plans to appoint Texas Representative Silvestre Reyes to the post.
Of course Hastings took it like a man:
In a sign of the bitterness that has surrounded the issue, a Hastings statement this week announcing he would not get the job closed with: "Sorry, haters, God is not finished with me yet."
As for the Reyes appointment:
Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, takes over the key post next year, as his party tries to intensify oversight of the intelligence community. Critics say Republicans failed to do that, leading to faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq and other stumbles.
"When tough questions are required - whether they relate to intelligence shortcomings before the 9/11 attacks or the war in Iraq, or to the quality of intelligence on Iran or North Korea - he does not hesitate to ask them," Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement announcing her choice of Reyes.
Well that's all wonderful rhetoric, but as we pointed out yesterday, unless Democrats are willing to implement the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and commit to a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies, nothing will really change in that regard. And as indicated yesterday, there is no commitment to do that.
So what Pelosi has done is some political damage control in which she avoids overt criticism outside of her party by not choosing Hastings. However, since the position for Hastings was supposedly political payback for the Congressional Black Conference's support, you have to wonder how well it will play within the party and especially in the CBC where a candidate such as Sanford Bishop (D-GA) could have been chosen instead of Reyes.
E.J. Dionne, in an article discussing the problems Democrats face within the House observes:
After a good election year, Pelosi has had a bumpy start with her unsuccessful intervention in the contest for majority leader and the controversy surrounding the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee.
Given she's withdrawn her support for the CBC's candidate and apparently reneged on a political promise to that group, does this make her leadership even shakier than it was? Or does she still retain the necessary clout to lead the Dems in the House?
Dionne thinks, in comparison to Pelosi, Newt Gingrich had it easy in '94:
But the real test of her leadership is yet to come, and it involves squaring a series of circles: how to democratize the House without giving up the ability to coordinate its actions; how to emphasize the substance of policy without losing sight of the imperatives of the next election; and how to bring together the legislative experience of the old with the political energy of the young.
Does "Murtha/Hastings" weaken her ability to do the things Dionne and others see as Democratic imperatives if they're to retain power, or has she already pretty much shot herself in the foot to the point that her leadership is hobbled and will eventually be ineffective?
Her problem is further complicated by the fact that the Democrats never articulated a meaningful agenda prior to the election. Pelosi is not in the position to demand that recalcitrants support a particular legislative effort on the basis that that is what the Democrats promised the voters! Gingrich had the "Contract with America" to point to when he wanted certain things from his membership. Pelosi has nothing comparable, and the only thing uniting her Party is its hatred of everything Bush/Rove! So, unless it is clearly an anti-Bush measure, she will have to argue that a particluar piece of legislation will — in the future — be important to maintaining the Democratic majority. Since that particular piece of legislation is not likely to have been tested at the polls last November, it will be a tougher argument for her to make.
But RAZ, even if we accept your argument that all the Dems have to offer is anti-Bush, then Reyes made much better sense than Harman. I don’t think the CBC will gripe too much about Hastings, to be honest. CBC members now control Judiciary and Ways and Means - not exactly small fry committees. It was Conyers who delivered the death blow to Hastings in 1989 when he said that the evidence - at the trial and later evidence of lying at the trial - overcame his original doubts about Hastings’ guilt. CBC support for Hastings was more formulaic than anything else. Sadly, the CBC was quite serious in its support for Bill Jefferson. Hopefully the voters in LA-02 will reject the corrupt Jefferson next week in the run-off.