Monday, November 27, 2006

If it's good for the gander, it's good for the goose

Trust Glenn Greenwald to see through the crap surrounding the choice of Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. We've heard a lot about the failings of impeached judge, Alcee Hastings, but let's look at the other contender, Jane Harman. As Glenn tells us:
So Harman has a history of defending the administration's illegal intelligence activities. She was among the most gullible and/or deceitful when it came to disseminating the administration's most extreme (and most inaccurate) intelligence claims to "justify" the invasion of Iraq. She supports the administration's efforts to criminally investigate, if not prosecute, journalists who reveal illegal intelligence activities on the part of the President (including illegal activities about which Harman knew but said nothing).

Given her position as ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Harman was repeatedly used by the administration -- with her consent -- as a potent instrument to shield itself from scrutiny, by creating the "Responsible Democrat" (Harman, Lieberman) v. "Irresponsible Democrat" dichotomy and then arguing that they enjoyed bipartisan support from the Good, Sensible Democrats like Harman. That's why, just like Joe Lieberman, Harman's most vociferous defenders are the most extreme Bush followers and neoconservatives. It is their agenda whom she promotes (which is why they defend her).

In light of that history, why would anyone think that Nancy Pelosi should choose Jane Harman to be the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, a key position for exercising desperately-needed oversight over the administration's last two years of intelligence mischief and, as importantly, for investigating and exposing the administration's past misconduct? She instinctively supports, or at least acquieses to, the administration's excesses, and would be among the worst choices Pelosi could make.
So, with this before us, why would people be pushing Jane Wrong-about-Everything Harman for the role of Chair? As Glenn see it:
At first I thought that the media's obsession with smearing Pelosi was some combination of its adolescent cravings for cattle-like demonization of the unpopular, loser Democrats, combined with the surprisingly (at least to me) strong and obvious discomfort with a woman being this politically powerful in her own right, not dependent upon appointments or derivative popularity from political spouses. And there is definitely a lot of that driving this chatter.

But now I believe that what is really responsible for this amazing obsession with undermining Nancy Pelosi before she even starts -- over matters as seemingly irrelevant (in the grand scheme of things) as Steny Hoyer and Jane Harman, no less -- is that institutionalized Beltway personalities fear a repudiation of the rotten system on which they depend and of which they are such integral parts.

They were so petrified by the possible rejection of Hoyer in favor of the anti-war Murtha because that would have been viewed by them as a repudiation of their brand of Serious Washington Centrism -- the disease which enabled the Bush administration and brought us this war. It would have meant that those who continue to prop up this war and this administration, either actively or passively, are going to suffer a loss of prestige and credibility. And that is exactly why it is so important to them that Jane Harman become House Intelligence Chair and why Pelosi's refusal to allow that will unleash even more hostility towards her.

There is nothing "credible" about Harman. Yes, she is smart and knowledgeable, but she has been wrong about everything that matters, particularly in the intelligence area. But she was wrong in exactly the same way that the Beltway geniuses and The New Republic and David Broder and Fred Hiatt were wrong. For that reason, they don't want her to be repudiated and rejected because that would constitute a repudiation and rejection of them. So they build up and glorify the "credible," responsible Harman because she represents them, and they hate Pelosi in advance for rejecting Harman for being wrong about everything because they feel rejected by that choice.

As a result, Pelosi and her opposition to Harman have to be belittled and removed from the substantive arena. Harman supported the most disastrous strategic decision in our nation's history and repeatedly defended the administration's worst excesses. That ought to be disqualifying on its face. But the Beltway media are guilty of the same crimes, so they want to pretend that Harman -- just like Steny Hoyer -- did nothing wrong and the only reason not to anoint her to her Rightful Place is because of petty, womanly personality disputes that have no place in the public arena.

For the same reason, they decree that Pelosi must prove that she's a "responsible" and serious leader. How does she do that? By embracing the Beltway establishment types, including those -- especially those -- who have been so wrong about so many things.

That's why the media has taken such an intense interest in the otherwise mundane matter of who will be House Majority Leader and House Intelligence Chair. Jane Harman, like Steny Hoyer, is the symbol of official Washington, the broken, rotted, corrupt Washington that propped up this war and enabled this administration in so many ways. Pelosi has to prove that she's one of them, or else suffer the consequences of being mauled and scorned.

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