Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dems Reject Murtha, But Steny Hoyer is no Boy Scout

The Netroots are rather upset with the treatment their hero, John Murtha, received from the Democrat party establishment. They have a right to be, especially if John wasn't just lying when he told Chris Matthews that he had enough commitments to win the election for Majority Leader.

Anyway, the Nation notes Steny Hoyer's ties to the same corporate lobbyists for which the democrats castigated republicans last election cycle:

The Nation -- Of course, House Democrats made a mistake in choosing the slick favorite of Washington special interests, Steny Hoyer, over shambling populist John Murtha to serve as House Majority Leader. In one of the more ridiculous exercises of journalistic irresponsibility by a Washington press corps that is distinguished by nothing so much as its ineptness when it comes to offering useful perspective to the American people, Murtha was dismissed as an ethically-challenged mess of a man while Hoyer, the candidate of K. Street, was presented as the tidier Democrat.
While Murtha may be an imperfect individual, Hoyers imperfections are systemic. The Marylander who served as minority whip before the election is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with the insider Democrats of Washington: He votes right on just enough issues to keep in the good graces of Democratic special-interest groups. But he votes wrong on just enough economic issues to keep the doors of corporate America open to his fund-raising appeals. The sly strategy has worked for Hoyer -- Public Citizen rated the Maryland congressman as the "most dependent on special-interest money" in the House and ranked him fifth out of the 433 members reviewed for contributions received from lobbyists.

One advantage of Democrat leadership is to remind the American people that the problem in Washington isn't the Republicans, or the Democrats, but Washington itself. We have given the government too much power, and that power forces "monied interests" to spend their money to protect themselves from that power. Some realise they can benefit from the unrestrained use of government power against their economic adversaries. Politicians realise they can "be powerful" if they play along, and at the same time can more easily win re-election because of the increased campaign contributions they can receive both for themselves and their buddies.

Steny Hoyer plays the game very well, helping many of his colleagues get perks, power, and campaign loot. In return, they gave him their vote when it mattered, making him majority leader in direct opposition to their Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. The media may now downplay that outcome, but when was the last time the Speaker of the House was not granted their choice of leadership when they asked for it?

The problem for Democrats is the same as for Republicans -- the ones with seniority are by and large corrupted by their time there, and most "principled" representatives don't stick around long enough either by choice or because the people with money (that includes labor unions and special interest groups along with businesses) will look for "better" representation for those who don't play along.

I count Frank Wolf among those who are better in that regard than most, but even with his years of service nobody's talking about him for any leadership positions.

No comments: