Getting the Optics Right: Pelosi Supports Murtha as Dem Leader

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murtha-john.jpg
Steny Hoyer will most likely be the next Democratic Party Leader in the House of Representatives despite Nancy Pelosi’s support of John Murtha today.
But Pelosi’s move is gutsy — and diplomatic. She needs to build bridges between different factions in the House — including traditional liberals like Hoyer and realist hawks against the Iraq War like Murtha. She’s also got quite a few neo-con lite types among Dems that need to be handled.
By not favoring favorites and promoting competition, Pelosi is kick-starting the Democratic Party to start serioiusly debating how it defines itself and what message and objectives it wants to transmit to the public.
I’m impressed with the move — even if the Murtha campaign fails. It’s extremely smart to do. Even Hoyer seems to think so and accept what she has done.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

30 comments on “Getting the Optics Right: Pelosi Supports Murtha as Dem Leader

  1. Manny says:

    Heck lets just put Teddy Kennedy in that position. He is an excellent swimmer and can hold his breath longer than any female that he has assaulted or let drown. Lets see how many of you will continue to support him. Double standard?

    Reply

  2. MP says:

    Thanks. I appreciate it.

    Reply

  3. CheckingIn says:

    Try this link:
    http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:Do3rwjXw2IAJ:www.aipac.org/transcripts2004/Steny%2520Hoyer.pdf+%22aipac%22+%2B+%22sister%22+%2B+%22hoyer%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1
    If that doesn’t work try a Google search:
    “aipac” + “sister” + “hoyer”
    The http://www.aipac.org pdf entry is no longer available, but the html cached version is still available.
    First entry: REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD) ANNUAL AIPAC POLICY CONFERENCE – click on the “View as HTML” option:
    (4th para): “…Now let me speak about my sister, Bernice, your incoming president. She and I were born not together, but at the same hospital in New York City. I was born at least a couple of decades before Bernice. Bernice does not have a microphone, but she said, absolutely. Bernice, we are so proud of you, we sons and daughters of the Fifth Avenue Flower Hospital. And I look forward to working as closely with you as I have with Amy – as I have with Howard. I know you will do an extraordinary job. (Applause.)”
    ____________________
    Steny Hoyer’s sister is Bernice Manocherian
    ____________
    The rest of transcript is worth reading, revealing Hoyer as a formidible volunteer AIPAC WHIP.
    Also, worthwhile comparing the official AIPAC transcript of his speech and Hoyer’s rather jumbled, hard to read DOCTORED transcript on his House website.
    http://democraticwhip.house.gov/transcript.cfm?multimediaID=34
    eg: AIPAC Transcript: (2nd para) “…Howard Friedman, as all of you know, is irrepressible, indefatigable, sometimes unfathomable. What a strong, strong voice for Israel. What a strong voice – (applause) – for human rights and what a strong voice for America. Howard, I am so proud to be your close friend. However; you took 90 percent of my time. (Laughter.) that’s the bad news. The good news? Nobody in the audience who knows you is shocked…”
    Both the “sister” connection and the “90 percent” of time spent with AIPAC president Friedman was omitted in Hoyers version.

    Reply

  4. CheckingIn says:

    Try this link:
    http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:Do3rwjXw2IAJ:www.aipac.org/transcripts2004/Steny%2520Hoyer.pdf+%22aipac%22+%2B+%22sister%22+%2B+%22hoyer%22&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1
    If that doesn’t work try a Google search:
    “aipac” + “sister” + “hoyer”
    The http://www.aipac.org pdf entry is no longer available, but the html cached version is still available.
    First entry: REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD) ANNUAL AIPAC POLICY CONFERENCE – click on the “View as HTML” option:
    (4th para): “…Now let me speak about my sister, Bernice, your incoming president. She and I were born not together, but at the same hospital in New York City. I was born at least a couple of decades before Bernice. Bernice does not have a microphone, but she said, absolutely. Bernice, we are so proud of you, we sons and daughters of the Fifth Avenue Flower Hospital. And I look forward to working as closely with you as I have with Amy – as I have with Howard. I know you will do an extraordinary job. (Applause.)”
    ____________________
    Steny Hoyer’s sister is Bernice Manocherian
    ____________
    The rest of transcript is worth reading, revealing Hoyer as a formidible volunteer AIPAC WHIP.
    Also, worthwhile comparing the official AIPAC transcript of his speech and Hoyer’s rather jumbled, hard to read DOCTORED transcript on his House website.
    http://democraticwhip.house.gov/transcript.cfm?multimediaID=34
    eg: AIPAC Transcript: (2nd para) “…Howard Friedman, as all of you know, is irrepressible, indefatigable, sometimes unfathomable. What a strong, strong voice for Israel. What a strong voice – (applause) – for human rights and what a strong voice for America. Howard, I am so proud to be your close friend. However; you took 90 percent of my time. (Laughter.) that’s the bad news. The good news? Nobody in the audience who knows you is shocked…”
    Both the sister connection and the 90 percent of time spent with AIPAC president Frideman was omitted in Hoyers version.

    Reply

  5. MP says:

    CheckingIn: Not sure how cacheing works, but can you post a link to what you reference below?
    “However, I did notice that on his site, his 2004 AIPAC transcript has been doctored and is not the same as the AIPAC website htlm cached version, where he announces it is his sister who will be the incoming PRESIDENT OF AIPAC in 2004.”

    Reply

  6. p.lukasiak says:

    Murtha for two reasons….
    1) The Speaker needs a majority leader that she can trust to stay on message and not undercut her. Hoyer is an overly ambitious snake — Murtha can be trusted.
    2) Murtha had complete cred on defense/security issues — one of the Democrats big perceived weaknesses. Making Murtha Majority Leader will go a long way toward discrediting the “Dems are soft on Defense” meme — and we can count on Murtha to pull no punches whenever the right wing tries to repeat that phrase….
    Neither one is an ideal choice, but given the choice, Hoyer brings nothing to the table — Murtha does.

    Reply

  7. Charlie says:

    Did Steve Clemons call Steny Hoyer a “traditional liberal”???? That is bizarre.

    Reply

  8. Dan Kervick says:

    CheckingIn,
    Yes, that’s just one example of the maddeningly uninformative character of Hoyer’s website. The more I learn about this guy, the more I sense he is just not a straight shooter. He’s an operator.

    Reply

  9. Dan Kervick says:

    Ultimately, isn’t it odd that these two candidates are the only ones coming forward? Neither one seems particularly ideal for the job. Murtha has the right view on Iraq, but is way to the right of almost all other Democrats on everything else. He is also a poor speaker and not well cut out for the Sunday talk shows. Hoyer seems like a 90’s-style DLC Dem who is out of step on Iraq, and just does not represent the spirit 2006.
    It should be possible to find among all those 230 Dems at least one who (a) is more liberal than Murtha but not perceived as far to the left (b) has the right views on Iraq; (c) is telegenic and reasonably charismatic and (d) has sufficient seniority and leadership cred among house Dems.

    Reply

  10. CheckingIn says:

    “There are some who believe that we must demonstrate more even-handedness in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. I do not.”
    The transcript is on Steny Hoyer’s website.
    http://democraticwhip.house.gov/media/statements.cfm?pressReleaseID=406
    However, I did notice that on his site, his 2004 AIPAC transcript has been doctored and is not the same as the AIPAC website htlm cached version, where he announces it is his sister who will be the incoming PRESIDENT OF AIPAC in 2004.

    Reply

  11. MP says:

    Carroll, do you have a link for this? Thanks.
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    December 15, 2003
    Hoyer Addresses AIPAC Political Leadership Conference
    by Congressman Steny Hoyer
    Quote:
    “There are some who believe that we must demonstrate more even-handedness in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. I do not.”

    Reply

  12. David says:

    Murtha bears a passing resemblance to Pat Buchanan, so having him in a somewhat visible position of power may be a way to give conservatives a bit of the heebie jeebies from time to time.

    Reply

  13. Linda says:

    Pelosi is a very skilled and astute politician; so this mostly is internal stuff political junkies love to watch. She can and will unite the Democrats more than anybody can unite the Republicans. That’s the bottom line that counts. And with the 100 Hour Strategy, the new Congress will start out as a “Do Something Congress.” Even if all of it doesn’t pass, Republicans will be on the record for voting against those issues–or Bush for vetoing them. She raised five children, and that probably is very good experience for her new job.

    Reply

  14. Ono says:

    I live in Hoyer’s district and he is quite popular here. I actually quite like him. His reputation locally is that he is a conservative Democrat, so I found Steve’s description of him as traditional liberal interesting. In fact, at the Boston DNC Convention, at the Maryland breakfasts, there was a big todo about how it was okay to be liberal and then it was akward when Steny Hoyer came up to speak because the CW was that he is a conservative Democratic. He handled it very well.
    I think he lives in St Mary’s County which is heavily military and conservative, also he spends quite a bit of time lobbying to protect the military bases in Southern Maryland and he has been sucessful–if it is by making friends with Special interests, Southern Marylanders remain grateful. I think it was quite a feat to have survived closures through 8 years of the Bush administration. Anyway, I hope Hoyer wins. Murtha just does not rock my boat.

    Reply

  15. karenk says:

    Seems to me Nancy is just being true to herself/beliefs by endorsing the person she honestly thinks is best. They’ve been allys for a long time so she obviuosly respects Murtha’s judgements and opinions. And she expressed her support in a decent way, by not demanding others think the same or demeaning Hoyer. Good diplomacy is usually that simple.

    Reply

  16. Rob W says:

    Some backstory: Pelosi and Hoyer don’t like each other very much. They have known one another since they were children, literally, as both are Marylanders whose families were involved in politics.
    Murtha has been a Pelosi ally for years.
    As for Murtha being “far left” I advise putting down the crackpipe. Murtha is nothing of the sort. Unfortunately, when the war came on Bush and Co. labeled anyone who opposed them as far left. Murtha only opposes the war. The rest of his positions put him in the center-right of the Democratic Party. He’s for a big military, for one.
    The problem with Murtha isn’t his stance on the war, its the corruption factor.
    As for the far right, over 50% of the country wants out of Iraq in a year. The politicians are way behind on this one.

    Reply

  17. Corinne says:

    Both Murtha and Hoyer have ethics baggage they’re carrying: Murtha is a shameless earmarker (http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/001579.php) and I don’t think his role in Abscam was ever resolved. Hoyer’s addicted to special interest money (http://www.cleanupwashington.org/sii/sii_rankings.cfm?CAT=h ). I don’t think either one of these guys as majority leader is going to help the Democrats’ desire to “clean up” Washington.

    Reply

  18. Marcia says:

    TLittle seems to be a submarine for those who will try to push the Iraq fiasco onto the Democrats.
    Bush is still President, he and his administration are responsible and should be held accountable for this dreadful humanitarian and military disaster.
    The new Congressional majority will first have to break the wall of secrecy behind which the adminstration is operating.
    As for “winning” in Iraq, everyone knows what that means for Bush-Cheney inc.–permanant military bases, control of oil, see the new Embassy that was to be the control center of the ME and beyond.
    Very likely in view of the looming financial and economis crisis the choices themselves may be considerably narrowed no matter whose decisions prevail.
    Will anything be leaked about the Olmert visit? Why so soon?
    If TLittle has nothing more serious to worry about than a VP run for Pelosi I would consider him or her a happy human.

    Reply

  19. Zathras says:

    Pelosi and Hoyer have run against each other before, in 2001 when each sought to be Democratic Whip. Murtha managed Pelosi’s campaign at that time.
    Things may end up pointing in the direction Steve suggests, but it looks to me as if Pelosi is just honoring an old debt to Murtha while sticking a thumb in Hoyer’s eye. The assumption that this is mostly about Iraq or indeed any substantive issue more than it is about the personal dynamics of Representatives who have known each other for a very long time is not one I would make.

    Reply

  20. Carroll says:

    Another good..and immediate reason for Murtha to prevail and for Pelosi to put an iron hand on the neos and israeli war hawks in the dem party.
    If she doesn’t they will work against any and everything the ‘new’ “old” guard of
    Bush 41 might be able to do to save George’s ass by getting a realistic withdrawal from Iraq and keeping us out of Iran.
    http://www.stratfor.com/products/premium/read_article.php?id=280453
    Geopolitical Diary: Caught Between Israel and Iran
    November 13, 2006 04 22 GMT
    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert flew to Washington on Sunday for a meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush. Before leaving Israel, he told reporters that this was the right time to discuss expectations about Washington’s Middle East policy during the final two years of the presidency. Specifically, Olmert said that those trying to “reach a compromise with Iran” should recognize that Tehran would be interested in compromise only if the clerical regime feels threatened. He added that “Israel has various options which I am not prepared to discuss.”
    The Israelis have reason to be concerned about a change in the U.S. posture toward Iran. The administration’s first response to the Democratic victory in the Nov. 7 congressional elections was to replace Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with former CIA Director Robert Gates, a member of the Iraq Study Group. The bipartisan body was set up to craft recommendations on a new Iraq policy, and it is widely believed that the group is urging the Bush administration to negotiate with Iran in order to resolve its problems in Iraq.
    The Bush administration clearly has been weakened both domestically and internationally — and both the Israelis and the Iranians know this. Olmert, however, has a similar problem. His fragile coalition government was severely hurt by the outcome of the war with Hezbollah during the summer, which forced him to reach out to the ultraconservative Yisrael Beiteinu. The far-right party agreed to join the government on a number of conditions — one of which was that its chief, Avigdor Lieberman, would be appointed as the minister for strategic affairs. That’s the official whose main task is to develop Israeli policy toward Iran, which is pursuing a nuclear program and regional hegemony.
    In his statements on Sunday, however, it was not as if Olmert was responding solely to pressure from his more hawkish coalition partners. As a pragmatic conservative, he clearly sees the strategic threat Israel faces in Iran. Now, the Jewish state is worried that Tehran will be able to exploit Washington’s dependency — as relates to Iraq — to its own advantage. Put another way, if Washington agrees to negotiate with Iran over the fate of Iraq — without linkage to other issues, which has been the sticking point to date — Tehran would be free to proceed with its plans on the nuclear issue, and its rise as a regional power would accelerate.
    Meanwhile, Iran is continuing to send reminders to Washington about the urgent need to move forward on Iraq. On Sunday, four British soldiers were killed and three others seriously injured when their patrol boat came under attack in the Shatt al-Arab waterway near Basra. It was the latest in a series of events in which pro-Iranian Shiite militias in southern Iraq have attacked British forces. Also on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini warned that the Islamic Republic would deliver a swift and “destructive” response to any Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities — a rejoinder to recent statements by Israeli leaders, who said they would resort to military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the nuclear issue.
    The assumption in Iran is that Washington would be able to stay Israel’s hand, as an Israeli military strike would upset the U.S. calculus not only for Iraq, but the entire region. That assumption, however, fails to take into account two things: one, that the Israelis always have had a great deal of freedom to act; and two, that the Israelis might be just as ready and willing to exploit the weakness in Washington as the Iranians.

    Reply

  21. Ian Fried says:

    I somewhat disagree with the analysis, although supporting Murtha isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
    First, while Murtha has been a moderate hawk in the past, his currentpopularity is mostly from the left due to his redefining the Iraq deate for the Democratic Party.
    Second, I don’t think Pelosi’s support for Murtha was done initially to build bridges to certain groups — although she certainly understands that this could be interpreted in this manner. Pelosi and Murtha have been friends and allies for years — Murtha was an important Eastern supporter of Nancy in her bid for Minroity Leader and this is her payback to him — and Steny understands this. Pelosi’s bid to support Murtha is more about their personal relationship than it is about coaltion building.
    Third, Pelosi is known to have “her” people and she supports them, and then there are those who have in some way crossed her in the past. On that list includes, Steny Hoyer, due to his challenge to her Majority Leadership bid two congresses ago, as well as Jane Harman, who will now not be Intelligence Committee chair even though she has the seniority. Pelosi would lovefor Murthato win due to this loyalty issue as well.
    Fourth, you call Hoyer a liberal, but his causes have been more inside-the-beltway type issues as he has constantly worked to rise up the party ladder overhaving a major legislative record. His ideology is moderate with a slight liberal bent.
    Finally, I don’t know if Hoyer has the Majority Leadership post sewed up — it is a secret ballot ad many a member though they had a position in their pocket only to wind up a few votes short. Plus Murtha probably did more than almost any other House member to help raise money for challengers this year, though Hoyer did a ton as well. If those that were newly elected feel more loyalty to Murtha than they do to Hoyer, that could change the equation.
    I like both men. Personally, I think of the Majority Leader as the Manager of the Hosue and in that case, Hoyer probably would be the better fit as he has done a good job in the past, while Murtha has never had such a position. But whoever wins it should be a good team.

    Reply

  22. Carroll says:

    Posted by Dan Kervick at November 12, 2006 11:52 PM
    >>>>>>>
    You are right.

    Reply

  23. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve,
    I don’t see how you can spin this as simply a case of Pelosi kick-starting the debate – although it will accomplish that end – or as an exercise in “diplomacy”, “bridge-building” and “not playing favorites”. Everyone knows that Murtha and Hoyer represent two very different approaches within the Democratic Party to the issue of Iraq: essentially the “time to get out” approach vs. “let’s regroup and win the war” approach. Pelosi has now *chosen a side* in this debate, not just prompted debate. I would say she has just sent an important message about where she stands.
    It’s absurd to suggest Mutha represents the “far left”, as T Little would have it. If polls are any indication, Murtha stands where the majority of Americans now stand, not just the majority of Democrats. Hoyer doesn’t represent moderates. He represents the Democratic wing of a group of Middle East hawks who mainly flock in Washington, but who are out of step with the majority of Americans.
    The comments from Hoyer and his people are just spin. They are seeking to neutralize the impact by portraying the letter as merely an expression of the personal relationship between Pelosi and Murtha.

    Reply

  24. citizen spot says:

    I agree with Steve C. on this. Pelosi grew up in a political machine, she understands politics, and this endorsment will open discussion among different factions of the party. I am about as left as they come, but I am also a realist. Murtha has his ethics issues. But he also has what the kids call “street cred” regarding military issues.

    Reply

  25. Winnipeger says:

    spot on ,jeff.

    Reply

  26. Carroll says:

    Yes to Murtha.
    No to Hoyer……
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    December 15, 2003
    Hoyer Addresses AIPAC Political Leadership Conference
    by Congressman Steny Hoyer
    Quote:
    “There are some who believe that we must demonstrate more even-handedness in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. I do not.”
    Someone needs to tell Mr. Hoyer that no one cares what he believes…it is what the American people believe that count.
    And the AMERICAN PEOPLE DO believe in being fair and evenhanded.
    Pretty obvious to me Mr. Hoyer hasn’t studied what our original founders had to say about how America should conduct it’s foreign affairs with evenhandedness and fairness to all, rejecting the notion and dangers of “favored nations”…or he doesn’t care…either way he isn’t fit for the position or fit for congress for that matter.
    If Pelois is going to represent all Americans and clean out corruption and special interest Hoyer is a good place to start.

    Reply

  27. Jeff says:

    A) Pelosi as VP? What are you smoking?
    B) As has been discussed a bajillion times, Murtha is NOT a liberal. He’s an old-fashioned pork barrel, smoke filled room sort of pol, with the one difference being that he’s really pissed about Iraq.
    C) I believe Steny when he says he has the votes to lock up Majority Leader, so this is purely a political maneuver by Nancy. She scores a lot of points with the lefties on this, and buys herself some time.
    D) Hey, if someone wants to challenge Nancy, go for it! Maybe they can attack her from the left…err, maybe not. Or maybe from the right…err…not a lot of love there either. Maybe some Blue Dog wants to alienate everyone else in the caucus for the right to get 20 votes for Speaker. Kind of a fool errand that.

    Reply

  28. Ben Rosengart says:

    Hunh. Why do you think they turned down those invites?

    Reply

  29. TLittle says:

    I disagree. This is a horrible move. I respect Murtha and his views, but a move to support him as majority leader is only playing to the far-left of the party, of which I would consider her a member.
    We need to see less of a focus on the people advocating “pull-out” and more on a realistic approach to winning in Iraq. I was also disheartened today that Reid and Pelosi declined invites to appear on Meet the Press. Now is the time to govern.
    The people elected the Democrats and we have not heard enough changes on what they are planning to do. I want to see actual policy initiatives as to what the Dems propose to do about Iraq, Iran, Social Security, and Education.
    With supporting Murtha I only hope that someone will rise within the Democrats to challenge her. She should not have this locked up. With that I am wouldn’t be surprised if she is looking for a VP spot in 2008.

    Reply

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