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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Congress Gets On the Crazy Train

By the time you read this, it’s entirely possible that Denny Hastert and Nancy Pelosi (in, ironically, their first act of robust bipartisanship) will have cut some Rube Goldberg deal with the Bush administration whereby the FBI will turn over documents seized from Rep. Bill Jefferson to the House Ethics Committee, thus somehow vindicating the Honor of the Institution without enabling the doomed Louisianan to feed the papers to the nearest shredder.I know there’s a (weak) constitutional argument here, though I have a hard time believing that Hastert and Pelosi really think that the doctrine of separation of powers prevents a court-ordered seizure of documents unrelated to any legislative activity after a subpoena has been ignored. If they do, they’re endorsing a degree of complete immunity from law enforcement rarely seen since Thomas a Becket claimed that Henry II had no jurisdiction over criminal clergy (or at least since the last Bush administration ukase about the president’s imperial powers over national security).Maybe the two Leaders think they’re taking a bullet for the Long View, but it’s hard to say which partisans are more beside themselves for this display of solicitude for a guy who’s trying to hide documents after getting caught on videotape taking 100 Large, which apparently wound up nestled amongst the popsicles in his freezer.Here’s the calm assessment made by conservative John Podheretz over at The Corner:

I don’t know how to put this any other way, and I’m sorry if it sounds insulting, but: Whether you consider him the leader of an institution whose standing among the public is at historically low levels and in need of drastic moral renovation or a leading partisan official whose team is in pretty bad shape and could use a bit of a boost, Denny Hastert is a blithering idiot.

Meanwhile, Pelosi’s getting pounded all over the lefty blogosphere for screwing up a year-long effort to make it clear Democrats will clean up the House if they win it back this November. And even more vitriol is being poured on the Congressional Black Caucus for blasting Pelosi for her one effort to discipline Jefferson, her request that he give up his seat on the Ways & Means Committee. For once, I’m pretty much in agreement with the Left and Right and don’t any use for the “bipartisanship” being exhibited by the Leaders. Indeed, I think they’ve together climbed onto the Crazy Train. But I do have a small bone to pick with Kos, who went out of his way today to take this little shot: “Jefferson, by the way, is a card-carrying member of the DLC. You know, the organization founded to take on the ‘entrenched interests’ in DC. ” Kos’ link was to an article in Human Events, of all things, that quoted Bruce Reed as favoring CAFTA, as did Jefferson. So what? As I’ve explained over and over, the DLC ain’t got no membership cards. And what the hell does supporting CAFTA (which if I recall correctly, Kos himself said was defensible on the merits) have to do with taking bribes to peddle influence in Nigeria? The DLC has repeatedly and redundantly supported ethics rules and legislation tougher than anything that either party in Congress has seriously considered, along with public financing of congressional elections and an assault on corporate subsidies. Dislike the DLC all you want; it’s a free country. But Bill Jefferson’s apparent kleptomania has nothng to do with us, anymore than it has anything to do with the Democratic Party as a whole.

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