As Tom DeLay Falls, Dave McCurdy Rises

- 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


10 comments on “As Tom DeLay Falls, Dave McCurdy Rises

  1. Zathras says:

    In a Democratic administration, Dave McCurdy could be Secretary of Defense or a force on energy and environmental policy, not both.
    With respect to energy, I really think it’s past time to acknowledge that we won’t get anywhere by talking about coalitions, partnerships and initiatives while dismissing unpopular ideas out of hand because everyone knows they are unpopular. The secret of America’s dependence on petroleum (particularly) and coal is hidden in plain sight; we use energy from these sources profligately because it is cheap. As long as it stays cheap, its use will not become notably more efficient. To make energy less cheap, we can rely either on time and market forces — which will eventually produce much and permanently higher prices — or on taxation.
    Of course energy taxes and gasoline taxes in particular are unpopular. Raising them is universally unpopular, in “blue” states as well as “red” states. The reason environmental groups make puttering around with CAFE standards and promoting tax credits for hybrid cars the centerpieces of their energy programs instead of sharply increasing gasoline taxes is that their leadership are aware that embrace of the latter policy would lose them a good third of their membership in the space of a week. The first politicians to fight this battle will lose it, and all politicians know this.
    But political reality and economic reality sometimes point in very different directions, and this is one of those times. Raising gas taxes, and taxes on energy use generally, has one essential advantage whether we are talking about limiting greenhouse gas emissions, about reducing America’s exposure to sudden political upheavals in the Middle East or about cutting the country’s trade (or budget) deficit.
    The advantage is that we know raising energy taxes will work. We do not know that any of the other policy options, or all of them put together, will work — the most we can honestly say is that they might help, and that’s not enough.
    This is off the point of Steve’s post (which was to sing the praises of Dave McCurdy, a subject about which I have no strong views), and I apologize for that. I just do not think it can be pointed out forcefully enough that building bridges, forging robust alliances and developing positive policy agendas — worthy as those activities are in principle — amount in this case to dancing around the edges of a problem that will not be addressed effectively until it is addressed directly. America’s energy problem boils down to one thing, and one thing only: price. There is only one policy tool that we know will work to decrease the use of a commodity demand for which is elastic over time, and that is taxation. If we never use that tool, the world energy market will eventually impose its own solution on us — after enough time to assure today’s elected officials another term or two in office, to be sure — but certainly, finally, and within no more than a few years. There is a cost to having the ability to influence one’s destiny, and refusing to use that ability because it is just too hard.


  2. tucker's bow tie says:

    May I gently divert eyeballs to Jay Rosen’s latest blog post..?
    Retreat from Empiricism – Ron Suskind’s Scoop.
    I think this comes as close to required reading for Steve’s audience as it can get.. 🙂


  3. Pissed Off American says:

    Brazil has become completely fuel self sufficient through its use of ethanol. Its amazing that as the so-called “last remaining superpower” we really do not do much that is “super” in terms of constructive or positive policy.
    But hey, energywise, at least we are super fucked up, eh? Don’t worry though, as soon as Bush erases all the science, ANWAR will save us, and global warming will be seen as little more than a bad hair…uh, I mean….uh….air day.


  4. John says:

    Kudos to Steve for breaking a taboo: discussion of energy. For too long the national security and foreign policy elites have been publicly avoiding honest discussion of energy. The Bush administration seems convinced that it’s a topic too important for open discussion in a democracy. It’s as if all these former oil executives really think the American people can be forever deluded into believing their fantasy based world comprised only of terrorists and axes of evil. Most disturbing is that they seem to think that there is a military solution to energy security, which they can endlessly pursue on false pretenses.
    Fortunately we are starting to have insiders like Gen. Charles F. Wald come forward and address the issue:
    According to the article, SecDef Gates participated in one recent war game. At one point, he fretted that the U.S. was short of resources to safeguard even its domestic facilities. “The infrastructure is too big to protect as a whole,” he said.
    Who knew that there were “green hawks” or an Energy Security Leadership Council?
    Meanwhile, Sen. Lugar’s last act as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was to go to Latvia, where he made a speech to urge NATO to expand its mission to protecting energy supplies. Funny how these insiders seem comfortable talking about energy only when they’re outside of the United States!
    Since the oil supply is too extensive for the US military to protect, Lugar wants to involve NATO. With their hands full in Afghanistan, it’s hard to imagine NATO contributing much to resolving any oil crises.
    More energy realists like Wald need to come forward and tell it like it is: there is no military solution to energy security.


  5. peg says:

    Marky — you are correct…i forgot. it is wishful thinking on my part.


  6. Marky says:

    I believe Clark is ineligible to be SecDef.
    Isn’t there a requirement that the Secretary be a civilian, or have been a civilian for at least 10 years?


  7. peg says:

    i believe that if Wesley Clark doesn’t run in 2008, HE should be the next Secretary of Defense.


  8. lotte says:

    False advertising, it seems
    Flicking through the Herald today, David Hicks sits like a character in Kafka’s The Trial, denied access to independent psychiatric assessment in an American military prison in which he finds himself in his fifth year without charge. After this, the shameful display of injustice perpetrated by the Queensland Government against Mulrunji Doomadgee and the people of Palm Island. Finally, this puzzling advertisement from the Australian Government: “As an Australian citizen I affirm my loyalty to Australia and its people whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I uphold and obey.” It beggars belief.
    Lotte St Clair Erskineville


  9. MP says:

    Most of these folks DO have ethics UNTIL they get into “these slots.” It’s the power that does it to them. Not all of them, but a lot of them. The temptation is too great. They seek power BECAUSE they believe they know what’s right and what needs to be done. And somehow they fail to notice when their moral compass starts pointing them toward self-aggrandisement.


  10. Carroll says:

    Oh no!…Please, no friends of Woolsey. Woolsey is in that group that should be hung in the town square.
    We absolutely have to get rid of all these ruling incest elites and profiteers and put some new blood with ethics in these slots….


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