[Marxism] Whither Iraq, whither the Democrats #2

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 16 11:36:19 MST 2006


URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15750590/
Dems pick Hoyer as majority leader
Lawmakers select him over Speaker Pelosi ally Rep. John Murtha
The Associated Press
Updated: 12:27 p.m. ET Nov 16, 2006

WASHINGTON - House Democrats on Thursday chose Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer to 
be House majority leader over Rep. John Murtha, the choice of Rep. Nancy 
Pelosi, in line to become speaker.

Hoyer was elected on a vote of 149-86.

The balloting marked a personal triumph for him, but also a snub to Pelosi, 
moments after the rank and file selected her unanimously to become speaker 
when the House convenes in January.

“We made history and now we will make progress for the American people,” 
Pelosi told the party caucus moments after her selection.

She vowed that after 12 years in the minority, “we will not be dazzled by 
money and special interests.”

Pelosi also called for unity in the party, but within moments she put her 
prestige on the line by nominating Murtha for majority leader.

Murtha is powerful lawmaker on defense matters, and he gained national 
prominence last year when he called an end to U.S. military involvement in 
Iraq.

He and Pelosi have long been close, and when Pelosi issued a statement 
supporting Murtha on Sunday night, it raised the stakes in a leadership 
election within a party that is taking control of the House in January for 
the first time in a dozen years.

Pelosi and Hoyer have long had a difficult relationship. The two ran 
against each other in a leadership race several years ago. Pelosi won, but 
Hoyer rebounded more than a year later when he was elected the party’s whip.

The intraparty battle had preoccupied Democrats, overshadowing Pelosi’s 
promotion to speaker — a position that is second in line of succession to 
the presidency.

Many Democrats were dismayed that the family feud had broken out in the 
first place and objected to heavy pressure placed on longstanding Hoyer 
supporters.

===

Democrats Fear Backlash at Polls for Antiwar Remarks

By Jim VandeHei and Shalaigh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 7, 2005; A01

Strong antiwar comments in recent days by House Minority Leader Nancy 
Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean have opened 
anew a party rift over Iraq, with some lawmakers warning that the leaders' 
rhetorical blasts could harm efforts to win control of Congress next year.

Several Democrats joined President Bush yesterday in rebuking Dean's 
declaration to a San Antonio radio station Monday that "the idea that we're 
going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."

The critics said that comment could reinforce popular perceptions that the 
party is weak on military matters and divert attention from the president's 
growing political problems on the war and other issues. "Dean's take on 
Iraq makes even less sense than the scream in Iowa: Both are uninformed and 
unhelpful," said Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), recalling Dean's famous 
election-night roar after stumbling in Iowa during his 2004 presidential bid.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) 
and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), the second-ranking House Democratic leader, 
have told colleagues that Pelosi's recent endorsement of a speedy 
withdrawal, combined with her claim that more than half of House Democrats 
support her position, could backfire on the party, congressional sources said.

These sources said the two leaders have expressed worry that Pelosi is 
playing into Bush's hands by suggesting Democrats are the party of a quick 
pullout -- an unpopular position in many of the most competitive House races.

"What I want Democrats to be discussing is what the president's policies 
have led to," Emanuel said. He added that once discussion turns to a formal 
timeline for troop withdrawals, "the how and when gets buried" and many 
voters take away only an impression that Democrats favor retreat.

Pelosi last week endorsed a plan by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) to withdraw 
all U.S. troops in Iraq within six months, putting her at odds with most 
other Democratic leaders and leading foreign policy experts in her party.

Democrats, who have not controlled the White House since 2000 and the House 
in more than a decade, have tried over the past year to put aside deep 
philosophical differences and rally behind a two-pronged strategy to return 
to power: Highlight the growing number of GOP scandals and score Bush's 
unpopular war management.

While the party is divided over the specifics of Iraq policy, most 
Democratic legislators are slowly coalescing around a political plan, 
according to lawmakers and party operatives. This would involve setting a 
broad time frame for drawing down U.S. troops, starting with National Guard 
and reserve units, internationalizing the reconstruction effort, and 
blaming Bush for misleading the country into a war without a victory plan.

The aim is to provide the party enough maneuvering room to allow Democrats 
to adjust their position as conditions in Iraq change -- and fix public 
attention mostly on Bush's policies rather the details of a Democratic 
alternative. A new Time magazine poll found 60 percent of those surveyed 
disapproved of Bush's handling of Iraq.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) embodies this cautious 
approach. He has resisted adopting a concrete Iraq policy and persuaded 
most Democratic senators to vote for a recent Senate resolution calling 
2006 "a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty" and to 
compel the administration "to explain to Congress and the American people 
its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq." While 
Republicans introduced the resolution, it was prompted by a Democratic plan.

Democratic Reps. Jane Harman and Ellen Tauscher, both of California, plan 
to push House Democrats to adopt a similar position during a closed-door 
meeting today that is to include debate on the Pelosi position.

Despite Pelosi's claims that she echoes the views of most members in her 
caucus, plenty of Democrats are cringing at her new high profile on an Iraq 
withdrawal. Not only did she back a position that polls show most Americans 
do not support, but she also did this when Bush is trying to move off the 
defensive by accusing Democrats of supporting a de facto surrender.

"We have not blown our chance" of winning back the House but "we have 
jeopardized it," said a top strategist to House Democrats, who requested 
anonymity to speak freely about influential party leaders. "It raises 
questions about whether we are capable of seizing political opportunities 
or whether we cannot help ourselves and blow it" by playing to the liberal 
base of the party.

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said that while Pelosi estimates more than 
half of House Democrats favor a speedy withdrawal, she will lobby members 
in today's meeting against adopting this as a caucus position.

Without naming Pelosi, Vice President Cheney told troops yesterday that 
terrorists will prevail "if we lose our nerve and abandon our mission," 
saying such precipitous move "would be unwise in the extreme." Cheney, 
addressing Army units at Fort Drum, N.Y., said that "any decisions about 
troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground and the 
judgment of our commanders, not by artificial timelines set by politicians 
in Washington, D.C."

In his comments Monday, Dean likened the president's optimistic assessment 
to those offered by the government during the Vietnam War. Bush fired back 
yesterday. "There are pessimists . . . and politicians who try to score 
points. But our strategy is one that is -- will lead us to victory," Bush 
said in response to a question about Dean's comments after a meeting with 
Lee Jong Wook, director general of the World Health Organization. "Our 
troops need to hear not only are they supported, but that we have got a 
strategy that will win."

DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney said Dean's comments were taken out of 
context. Dean, she said, meant the war was unwinnable unless the Bush 
administration adopts a new strategy. Still, a number of Democrats 
distanced themselves from Dean. "I think Howard Dean . . . represents 
himself when he speaks," Tauscher said. "He does not represent me."

Democratic candidates said their biggest concern is that voters will 
misconstrue comments by party leaders about Bush's handling of the war as 
criticism of U.S. troops who are fighting in Iraq. "I absolutely disagree" 
with Dean, said Patrick Murphy, a Democrat who is running for the suburban 
Philadelphia House seat now occupied by GOP Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick.

Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Tex.), who represents a district Bush won easily in 
2004, said he disagrees with Pelosi and Dean but does not see that as a 
problem. "The national press is playing up the fact that Democrats do not 
speak with one voice on Iraq," he said. "We should wear it as a badge of 
honor because it shows we are not playing a political line with war and peace."

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