Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's Hoyer

So the new Democratic Majority Leader is Steny Hoyer, defeating Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi's pick, Jack Murtha, 149-86.

I share Ezra's view that neither of these potential leaders was very appealing.

But I prefered Hoyer and am satisfied with the results for two main reasons. One, Hoyer is simply a younger, more energetic fellow, and one that for whatever his K-street connections and questionable committment to liberal causes, is probably the right person for the legislative combat the next session will bring. He's also well-guarded, and well spoken enough to avoid referring to his part's ethical reform legislation as "crap".

Two, I'm not as concerned as many people seem to be that this will reflect negatively on Speaker Pelosi. The Republicans ran more of a centralized, dictatorial House, first under Newt and then later, DeLay. While this yielded the necessary discipline to pass certain measures and by and large ensured the Republican Party's ability to speak with one voice, it ultimately led to the GOP's collapse last week as corruption and political blindness negated their control. So, the fact that the Democratic House Leadership will be fragmented to some degree doesn't strike me as the worst outcome we could imagine. Think of it as a system of checks and balances within the party leadership itself. On the negative side, it could cause a breakdown in party discipline and effectiveness; but on the positive side, it could help keep the leadership honest and result in a more democratic Democratic House.

I'm not contesting that Pelosi's public intervention was bone-headed--it probably was. But I'm not looking for the next Democratic Speaker to be a dictator. We've already seen what that can produce.

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