Thursday, November 16, 2006

DEMolition Derby composite/AP images

"Democrats never agree on anything, that's why they're Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans." Will Rogers

You gotta love Democratic party politics. It's so much more entertaining than the cold, aloof Republican version ... except for the perverts, of course. But for pure political theater, the Dems win hands down.

Democrats give us cliff-hangers. Republican outcomes are all too predictable. Dems get down in the mud. Republicans sling it. Democrats pound each other. Republicans stick it to the country.

That's the biggest difference, where it counts. Though it's more than a little embarrassing to see the first post-election Dem duke-out trumpeted all over the news, at least it was a fair fight. And in the end, the Democrats still won.

So what if new House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi got thumped in her first Congressional power play when her public choice for Majority Whip, John Murtha was trounced by the more moderate Representative Steny Hoyer.

Pundits are saying it was a stupid move, but I think Pelosi's dumb like a fox.

Nancy Pelosi is known for her fierce loyalty to friends. Murtha helped her get elected and shepherded her rise through the ranks. So when it came time to help Murtha, she stepped up, even though she must have known it was a losing battle. And ultimately, that will be her hole card.

Pelosi was unanimously elected Speaker of the House. Hoyer, interviewed on NPR, said Pelosi had told him she would support Murtha and gave her points for loyalty. As Majority Whip, Hoyer will have to support her when the Democrats move forward on their stated collective agenda.

While Murtha may have lost some public face, he's still a firmly entrenched Congressional power broker. And now he owes Pelosi his support too. He's already been quoted in the Congressional magazine Roll Call privately telling conservative Democrats he thinks Pelosi's ethics reform package is "total crap'' but he'll vote for it "because that's what Nancy wants."

The initial skirmish among the Dems will soon be forgotten by the public. The party ramifications behind the scenes may not. But that should play out to our advantage in the long run. Pelosi has gained some measure of credibility among the Murtha old time conservatives, who've been leery of her ultra liberal stance.

Hoyer is well known inside the Beltway as a deal-making moderate among Republicans and Democrats. He's got the kind of powerful friends and allies that'll come in very handy to Pelosi and her liberal base.

It all lines up to be a serious formula for success when the Dems take over Congress in January. And no matter how many more times they duke it out, in the final analysis the country will win.



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