Former Congressman and almost presidential candidate Dave McCurdy has just been announced as the new President & CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
How times have changed. McCurdy was one of the former major targets of Congressman Tom DeLay who tried to block the hiring of “Dems” by trade associations, corporate offices, and other lobbying groups who wanted to continue to have “working relations” with the then Republican controlled Congress.
While McCurdy prevailed over the megalomania of Tom DeLay — the fight was vicious and sent a cold shiver through the rest of Washington’s K Street community. High profile Dems had a tougher time getting hired.
Dave McCurdy was a popular Democratic Congressman in the red state of Oklahoma long before most folks were thinking about blue and red states in quite so vivid terms. McCurdy was a favorite in New Hampshire circles in 1992 and was pushed hard to run for his party’s presidential nomination. He opted not to run — but he was the person who formally nominated then Governor Bill Clinton for President at the 1992 Democratic National Convention.
When Clinton won the presidency, Bill Clinton and his then chief of Staff Thomas “Mack” McLarty preferred Dave McCurdy for the top Pentagon spot. Hillary Clinton and George Stephanopoulos preferred Les Aspin, who ultimately got the job. In a consolation move — McCurdy was offered the directorship of the CIA, which he rejected but suggested R. James Woolsey — a fellow Oklahoman.
McCurdy knows that I am not the greatest fan of Woolsey whom I believe has profited a bit too much in his financial wheelings and dealings on this war — while brave American men and women have been fighting on the front lines as he fans the flames as a pundit. But Woolsey has also been active in an effort to build more awareness of the need to get America off its heavy addiction to Middle East oil — something I support.
In my view, McCurdy should be this nation’s next Secretary of Defense — that would be a smart move for any future president. He gets it when it comes to thinking about “contingencies of the future” rather than defending a bloated military and intelligence structure still too designed for managing yesterday’s challenges.
Dave McCurdy could be one of the potential new architects of a more robust alliance between the auto sector and environmental groups on a more positive policy agenda on energy and the environment. I hope to work with him on that front — and hope many others in the progressive community will as well — even with James “Jihad Jim” Woolsey.
But a Dem heading the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers?
That’s Andy Card’s old job. Times really have changed.
(press release here)
— Steve Clemons