Nancy Pelosi: Wicked Witch of the West?
That leadership is going to look roughly similar to the residents of the holding cell at your local jail. Some of the strangest souls in American political history will be in power.
Consider the party's stars, leaving out Nancy Pelosi, the Madame Defarge of modern politics. Let's look instead at other stellar members of the group, including Jack Murtha, Alcee Hastings, William Jefferson, and Dennis Kucinich.
Mrs. Pelosi, who orchestrated the campaign against the Culture of Corruption, wants Congressman Jack Murtha as her number-two man (person?). Residents of PA's 12th congressional district know that Murtha's relationship to corruption is something like Typhoid Mary's relationship to typhoid.
Here's what Melanie Sloan, head of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, CREW, had to say about Pelosi's decision:
"Future House Speaker Pelosi's endorsement of Rep. Murtha, one of the most unethical members of Congress, shows that she may have prioritized ethics reform merely to win votes with no real commitment to changing the culture of corruption."
Sloan added that not only is Rep. Murtha beset by a history of receiving and giving hefty "donations," but the New York Times reported Oct. 2 he has consistently opposed congressional reform of ethical issues and pork-barrel politics.
Now, we turn to Congressman Alcee Hastings, "representing" Florida's 23d district. Running basically unopposed, Hastings took no chances, raising and spending nearly $1 million on his "campaign."
Who is Alcee Hastings and why should you care? Well, in his previous role as a federal judge, he was one of only six men in American history impeached by the House -- where he now serves -- and convicted by the Senate.
The federal legislators determined Hastings had just possibly disgraced his judgeship by taking a $150,000 bribe to influence a decision. They further determined he had lied about the situation at his criminal trial and manufactured evidence.
Obviously in deep shame at having his judgeship stripped, Hastings perked up his spirits by running for and winning a seat in Congress and has "served" there for a decade-and-a-half. What committee will he presumably head?
Unless Pelosi undergoes an unexpected episode of sanity, Hastings will head the House Intelligence Committee. (The other candidate is Jane Harmon, of California, whom Pelosi despises, presumably because Harmon actually knows something about intelligence.)
Then, there's Dennis Kucinich, former candidate for President and apparently an eternal congressman from the Cleveland area. Alternately known as Dennis-the-Menace and Congressman Moonbeam, he despises President Bush and doesn't feel much better about the USA.
Recently, he called on America not to be too hasty in criticizing the Hezbollah terrorists. Instead, he proposed "a recognition that connects us to a common humanity and from that draw a flicker of hope to enkindle the warm glow of peace."
Somehow I'm not feeling a warm glow at the thought of Kucinich becoming -- as he probably will -- chairman of the subcommittee on national security. Somehow that's a little like making Michael Jackson supervisor of a day-care-center.
And what about William Jennings Jefferson, the Louisiana congressman famous for having $90,000 (stuffed in $10,000) in "cold cash" in his freezer?
Well, the good people of Louisiana's 2d district gave him a plurality (30%) in the general election, and he'll be in a runoff against Democratic state senator Karen Carter (22%) on Dec. 9.
Jefferson raised nearly three-quarters-of-a-million for his campaign, all of it one assumes from people committed to good government.
In American politics, don't count anybody named Jefferson -- be it Thomas, William, or George -- out.