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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Marc Sheppard

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Marc Sheppard

Last Build Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 15:57:16 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Pelosi, Hastings and the Future of House Democrats

Fri, 17 Nov 2006 15:57:16 -0600

Alcee you and raise you Nonetheless, Pelosi has made known her intentions to force ranking Democratic committee member Jane Harman (D-CA) to step down, clearing the way for Rep. Alcee L. Hastings of Florida. Granted--Harman's strong positions on national defense, particularly in the arena of anti-terrorism, rub many Patriot Act despising Liberals the wrong way. As recently explained by sixties-radical Tom Hayden in a Huffington Post Blog entry. It's no secret that Harman is the center of Democratic friction. She was one of a handful of Congressmembers invited into the secret White House briefings on what has mushroomed into a major scandal: the launch of domestic spying by intelligence agencies without warrants. The ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Harman promised the White House to keep secret what she heard at the meetings. Imagine that--a member of an Intelligence Committee pledging to keep top-secret matters of national security top secret. Wouldn't it have been nice if Senators Pat "Leaky" Leahy (D-Va.) and Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) had remained so tight-lipped when members of the Senate Intelligence Committee? Or, more recently, those who leaked details of the NSA data-mining and Terrorist Finance Tracking Programs? Okay, for the sake of argument, let's accept the unacceptability of the seasoned veteran Harman. Still--why would Pelosi anoint Hastings, particularly after announcing to the world on November 8th that Democrats, "intend to lead the most honest, the most open and the most ethical Congress in history" On the surface, it would appear to be political suicide. Alcee you in court In 1981, then-Judge Hastings and attorney William Borders Jr. were indicted for conspiring to solicit bribes from two convicted racketeers in exchange for probationary sentences and restoration of forfeited assets. Borders was convicted and imprisoned the following year while Hastings was ultimately acquitted in 1983. However, 4 years later a panel of fellow federal judges ruled that Hastings had lied under oath and manufactured evidence during the trial. The panel recommended his impeachment to Congress. The following year, the House overwhelmingly (413-3) abided their advice. The evidence was so compelling that the Senate wasted no time--voting 69-26 to convict and remove him from office Curiously, having been de-robed did not render the judge ineligible for higher office. In fact, in 1992 Hastings was elected to the House of Representatives, representing the 23rd district of Florida, and has been reelected with comfortable margins every 2 years since. The convicted perjurer is currently the number 2 ranking Democrat in the HPSCI and Pelosi seriously wants to hand him the gavel. In doing so, she would be handing the nation's most vital secrets over to a man who was removed from the bench by a Democratic Senate on charges of conspiracy and lying. Exacerbating the lunacy of this pronouncement is the fact that Pelosi, herself, was among those Democratic House members voting to impeach the disgraced judge in 1988. So, for that matter, were the current House Minority Whip and newly elected Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and Hastings fellow Congressional Black Caucus member John Conyers of Michigan. What might Nancy see in Alcee that we don't see? Perchance the answer lies in Pelosi's current station of disfavor with the ultra-liberal Congressional Black Caucus. After all, she was a major catalyst in the June ousting of CBC member Rep. William Jefferson from his Ways and Means Committee post. Not surprisingly, the caucus had repeatedly voted against the removal of the Louisiana Democrat, in spite of the fact that the FBI "had him cold," after discovering a $90,000 block of bribe ice in his freezer. Hours before the vote which would ultimately strip Jefferson of his seat, Pelosi waxed morally with reporters: "This is not about a court of law. This is about a higher ethical standard, and you know when it isn't being met" But there certainly appears to be a stra[...]