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  Democrats Riding To The Rescue
by J. F. Kelly, Jr. [writer] 11/28/06

In the spirit of the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I reflected on the many blessings we Americans have to be thankful for. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) did not make my list. I had promised myself that I would refrain from criticism of the party that will soon control both houses of Congress, thanks to the ineptitude of many of the incumbent Republicans they defeated, at least until they had a chance to accomplish something. Ms. Pelosi, however, is such an inviting subject for criticism I can’t resist.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

If Pelosi’s choices for House leadership positions are any indication of what we can expect from this Democrat-controlled Congress, we are in for a difficult two years. Her first two picks demonstrate cronyism at its worst. Her support of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) for House majority leader was uninspiring to put it mildly. As everyone must now know, Murtha was videotaped apparently declining a bribe offer in 1980, indicating that he wasn’t ready to accept it just then but perhaps would reconsider after they had done business for awhile. His supporters will point out that he has never been indicted, much less convicted. But shouldn’t he have been, for not reporting the offer?

This is Ms. Pelosi’s best choice for the second most important position in the House? Fortunately, her fellow Democrats exercised adult judgment and handed her and her mentor, Murtha, a resounding defeat, electing instead Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) as majority leader. Pelosi should have learned from this embarrassing setback that Congressional leadership positions should be awarded on the basis of merit and leadership ability, not cronyism. The process should not be about rewarding loyalty and punishing rivals. The lesson was apparently lost on her because she promptly proceeded to back Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) for the critical position of Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Hastings, who previously served as a federal judge, was impeached in 1988 for taking bribes. He was rewarded by being elected to Congress where, it is alleged, he improperly utilized classified information and compromised federal investigations.

Ms. Pelosi reportedly defended her choice of Hastings over the better-qualified Rep. Jane Harmon (D-Cal.) because Hastings, who is black, would add diversity to the House leadership. I guess you could say that naming an impeached judge to chair an important congressional committee adds diversity of sorts. Is this the kind of judgment we can expect from the person second in line to succeed to the presidency? If so, we should triple the security details assigned to the president and vice-president and pray daily for their health and safety.

Not that the Republicans are doing all that much better. They retained Rep. John Boehner (R-O) as minority leader and Rep. Ray Blount (R-Mo.) as party whip, sticking with their same failed management team. Over in the senior chamber, they resurrected Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), possibly now best remembered for his testimonial to Strom Thurman’s leadership qualities. Meanwhile, confirmation of John Bolton as Ambassador to the UN remained stalled, largely over the objection of Rhode Island’s lame duck senator, Lincoln Chafee, who the White House actually supported in his failed reelection attempt in spite of the fact that he consistently votes like a Democrat and was quoted as saying he may become one. (Do you ever wonder how Rhode Island even got to become state? At 1,214 square miles it’s smaller than many counties. It’s hardly big enough to be a Texas cattle ranch. I’ve been in bigger traffic jams. I mean, they threw Pluto out of the planetary system because it was too small, didn’t they? Rhode Island was the 13th state to join the union which was an unlucky sign to begin with. And it’s not actually an island, so its very name is misleading, like calling Chafee a Republican. Just make it a part of neighboring Connecticut which had the good sense to elect Sen. Joe Lieberman after the Democrats denied him their nomination. But I digress.)

Regarding Bolton, here’s a serious suggestion (I was only kidding about Rhode Island. It’s a great place to visit and you can see it all in about an hour.). If the Senate refuses to confirm Bolton, and since he cannot receive another recess appointment, the president should make it clear that there will be no other nomination forthcoming to fill the UN post. Just leave it vacant and appoint the immensely capable Mr. Bolton to the most senior position in the State Department that does not require Senate confirmation. Then, perhaps, the Senate can turn to some real business. I don’t hold out much hope for the House, though, with Pelosi at the helm. CRO

copyright 2006 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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