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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Pelosi and Hoyer

I did a post on Friday deploring the idea of a purge of Howard Dean as DNC chairman. This one deplores the idea of a purge of Steny Hoyer as the number-two official among House Democrats. It’s motivated by a statement made by Speaker-Elect Nancy Pelosi supporting Jack Murtha’s strange challenge to Hoyer as Majority Leader in the next House. It’s strange because there’s really not a case to be made for any failing by Hoyer as Whip; it’s all about Murtha’s late-life emergence as an antiwar icon. It’s not as though Steny has done anything to undermine House Democrats in their criticism of Bush Iraq policies. And it’s not as though Murtha has any other case to make for being a good representative of House Democrats. He’s actually been a bit to the right of Jimmy Dean Sausage on a host of issues over the years. I don’t necessarily hold that against him, but I do object to the idea that he’s an impeccably good Democrat, and Steny’s not. It’s just not true. Hoyer’s probably going to win, unless Pelosi really goes to the mats for Murtha. Let’s hope she’s made her statement for Murtha precisely because it sends a nice signal to those in the party who think Iraq is literally the only issue that matters, without staking House Democrats to an unnecessary internal fight and an exclusive commitment to Murtha’s views on redeployment. And maybe Nancy Pelosi and James Carville should get together, compare notes, and eschew intraparty battles for a while. This we don’t need.

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