Post-Election Politics (Democratic Leadership Edition)

Via WaPo: In Backing Murtha, Pelosi Draws Fire

Murtha, a longtime senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has battled accusations over the years that he has traded federal spending for campaign contributions, that he has abused his post as ranking party member on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, and that he has stood in the way of ethics investigations. Those charges come on top of Murtha’s involvement 26 years ago in the FBI’s Abscam bribery sting.

“Pelosi’s endorsement suggests to me she was interested in the culture of corruption only as a campaign issue and has no real interest in true reform,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Democratic-leaning group. “It is shocking to me that someone with [Murtha’s] ethics problems could be number two in the House leadership.”

There are several interesting aspects to this situation.

1) It is an intra-Democratic conflict at the moment. Even the interest groups that are the most vocal at the moment are more in the Democratic camp.

2) This the collision of the two main issues of the campaign: the war and corruption.

3) It indicates that Pelosi may have a character trait in common with President Bush: loyalty. Part of the argument for Pelosi favoring Murtha over Hoyer is that Murtha helped her in an earlier leadership race and Hoyer opposed her. A similar manifestation of part of this trait is the fact that she apparently has problems with Jane Harmon and hence is willing to ignore seniority rules on the Intelligence Committee (in this case this is perhaps what happens when one isn’t viewed as loyal).

Of note is the fact that this particular character trait/traits of Pelosi are getting her in trouble right out of the gate. It will be interesting to see how this manifests over time.

If anything, I suspect we are going to get quite the education on ABSCAM over the next week or so…

[Cross-posted at PoliBlog]

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Anderson says:

    Hm, I just posted on this. The word at Tapped and the Prospect is that Pelosi knows Hoyer has the post in the bag, and that her letter is a favor to Murtha, not a salvo in a Dem bloodbath.

    Which, as a Dem, I have to hope is correct. This is not the time for internecine warfare in the Dem caucus. Not that there’s ever a good time for it, but certainly not now.

  2. legion says:

    It’s not a time for warfare, but there shuld be some time set aside for a little self-examination. As dirty as the Congress that’s going out the door was, it’s that much more important the the Dems choose the cleanest possible people to be in the limelight now.The moral high ground is our – the worst thing we could do is throw it away by putting someone either crooked or crazy in a top post…

  3. Adam Herman says:

    Too bad the mainstream press didn’t get hold of this earlier. The vote is today and a lot of Murtha’s colleagues aren’t aware of his shady activities, according to the article.

    Another week of press coverage on Murtha would focus some minds in the caucus.

  4. Anderson says:

    Hoyer, n.b., is not Mr. Clean, either.

    The whole point of corruption is that it gives you the $$$ you need to be powerful. Thus, those most likely to win a post are also those we would least like to see occupy it.

    C’est la guerre.

  5. Which reminds me of an HHG quote:

    “The major problem – one of the major problems, for there are several – one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: it is a well known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.”

  6. Anderson says:

    I’m getting old — took me a bit to think what HHG stood for, though the quote sounded familiar (I was thinking Pynchon).

  7. I expanded on the quote a tad at my place: click.

  8. Anderson says:

    Doh! I always thought that was Aristotle. And in the Republic, no less — can’t get any more obvious than that. Thanx!