November 6, 2002
THE LONG KNIVES COME OUT:
In a moment that had to cause some buttockal puckering around the Democratic caucus, Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., who is the one Democrat in the House who you can see becoming a superstar (a moderate black from Kentucky [okay, Tennessee--it was Wendell Ford who was from Kentucky, wasn't it?]), was just on Buchanan and Press (MSNBC) saying that the party needs new leadership. He included not only Dick Gephardt in that assessment but Nancy Pelosi and Martin Frost too--who are running to replace Mr. Gephardt. He said he'd told all of them that prior to the election and that there are others who feel similarly. George W. Bush should court him aggressively, starting now.
Democrats call for leaders' heads after poll disaster (Tim Reid, November 07, 2002, Times of London)
Harold Ford, a Democratic congressman from Tennessee, said that Mr Gephardt should step down. "It's obvious that we need some fresh faces and some new ideas."
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 6, 2002 4:26 PM
Quite frankly, the Republicans could stand new leadership, too. Hastert's moribund and Lott's a disaster. Unfortunately, they'll probably stay.
Ford's actually from Memphis, which I think is one of those minority-majority districts. It's interesting comparing him to, say, Maxine Waters or John Conyers.
I agree with Derek about Lott; doesn't connect all that well. I always though Don Nickles would be better, but now my number one guy is Frist. (Hastert's moribund but DeLay does all the heavy lifting in that chamber anyway.)
Here's another vote against Lott. Daschle ran rings around him before, no reason he won't do it again.
Frist is a pretty good thought, particularly with high profile drug benefits and health care issues coming down the road.
Hastert, on the other hand, has only one job; to be the anti-Newt. He does it well.
The party would benefit greatly from not having a white Southernor in control--Judd Gregg.
Image being almost as important as issues in politics today, the Republicans do not
need to have DeLay as the front-and-center face of House Republicans. Remember, Democrats (with the help of the media) were successfully able to demonize Gingrich and the Republicans in 1995, in part because Newt didn't know when to shut up, and gave the opposition amuntition.
Having DeLay in a House leadership position isn't a problem; having him as the
leader would give the Demcrats a face to hang the "mean-spirited" label on, since they've tried and failed with Bush and need a new scapegoat (and Lott's too much of a goofball for it to work on).
Hastert's befuddled football coach look may irritate some GOP backers, but it serves its purpose in denying the Democrats some needed images to put in front of the public each night. With his bluntness, if DeLay was head man in the House, he'd be portrayed as the second coming of Joseph McCarthy in the press within three months of his appointment.
I can agree with everyone's points about Hastert. He's a neutral factor. All the same, I think it would do them some good to hop over DeLay and get someone with a bit more appeal. Delay's my congressman, but he's also a first-rate jerk, which makes him an ideal whip. But his negatives could be offset by a younger and more likeable figure in the Speaker's seat. Hastert would do better in the Majority Leader's position.
As for Lott, the guy's living proof of the Peter Principle--people rise to the level of incompetence. He has practically no vision beyond the next pork project he can send to Mississippi. Some of that necessary, but if Bush is going to take advantage of this two-year window he has, he should get someone in there like Nickles, who'll both expidite the short-term goals and set up for the long term.
Hey, Hastert's a former wrestling
coach, not football coach. But I digress...
The House leadership team is fine. Hastert's a nice guy that can't be easily demonized, but DeLay as whip does a good job getting the votes out. Considering how close it's been, but how the Reps have been able to get anything they wanted out of the House, I wouldn't complain. I agree that DeLay would make a poor choice for Speaker or any more visible position.
Unfortunately the two star youngsters from OK--Watts and Largent--are both gone now. They should look to aggressively promote a couple of their women--the previously mentioned Jennifer Dunn (WA) or Anne Northup (KY).
The most poignant comment I've seen on Trent Lott was poetic:
An old bowl of cold grits.
It's not quite Jack Kemp calling Bob Dole "the tax collector for the welfare state"
Perhaps in NH you take your taxes
as seriously as us Southerners take decent grits.
That's why we can actually afford real breakfast foods and maple syrup.