Gingrich dismantled the committee system that had evolved in the decades following the revolt against Speaker Joe Cannon in 1911. He reduced committee staffs, diminished the authority of committee chairs, and reached around ranking Republican committee members to promote his loyalists, ignoring the established seniority system. The chairs he put in place were required to take loyalty oaths, making them an extension of the leadership office. Gingrich also reserved a large number of desirable committee appointments for freshman he helped elect in 1994. The result was a shift from a “committee-based process” to a “partisan leadership-based process.” Power that had been diffused among committee chairs was and remains concentrated in the leadership.The reason why I’m pointing this out is because I, for one, am getting sick and tired of reading these stories about how the supposed “battle” for House Majority Leader between John Murtha and Steny Hoyer is turning into some kind of a ballyhooed smack-down festival illustrating yet again how the Democratic House leadership under soon-to-be-speaker Pelosi is terminally “divided.”
I don’t recall that all of this attention was paid to House appointments by Gingrich and company in 1994 when they took over (as you can see, Newt had his favorites, just as Pelosi prefers Murtha, but so what?). In fact, what I DO recall (as Media Matters pointed out so well here) was that our dear MSM cousins bent over backwards to point out how unified the Republicans were and politely declined to report on the internal scuffles which no doubt took place as Republican House members tried to secure key committee leadership positions. And besides, whatever is taking place in the House, as Dubose noted, is part of the “partisan leadership-based process” that Gingrich enshrined anyway.
But we all know what is REALLY going on here anyway, don’t we?
It’s more sensational for our august corporate media to report on a woman Democratic politician wielding power than a male of any political persuasion, especially in the case of Nancy Pelosi, who George Will described as “the most left-wing speaker in U.S. history” recently (wondering what kind of a barometer he used for that one – I’ll try to address his column on that shortly). It’s nice for our information handlers who have initials denoting their corporate affiliation to conjure up some kind of daytime soap-opera-ish scenarios involving a woman in a visible position of power.
How about commenting on the fact that, by naming Mel Martinez to head the Republican National Committee and Trent Lott as Senate Minority Leader (as I noted yesterday), the Repugs have sent a pretty clear message that they intend to budge NOT ONE INCH for at least the next two years while Pelosi, on the other hand, wrote an op-ed piece published in the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday pledging bipartisanship (and I know how it goes over time with that, but it was still a nice first step).
I’ll tell you the truth; this is what scares me to death about nominating Hillary Clinton for president (as well as how that might be received in the Middle East where women are treated as little more than cattle anyway). I know that’s not fair, since she may emerge as the most qualified individual from the Democratic Party (a strong probability of that, as far as I can see right now), but our clueless media will dwell on every trivial circumstance with her for which most men would get a pass (especially David Broder, who once wrote that the state of the Clinton marriage was fair game, though he was “bored” by the entire Valerie Plame scandal).
As far as Democratic politicians versus our media, is a “David vs. Goliath” scenario. As far as Democratic women politicians in leadership versus our media, is David vs. about TEN goliaths.
Is Pelosi perfect? Hardly. I’m just wondering why it’s apparently impossible to afford her the same courtesy as we once afforded Newt and the boys (I guess I already answered that question...sigh).
Update 11/16: Now that this "non-story" is over, can we please just "move on," as someone once said?
Update 11/17: What Glenn Greenwald and Digby say (hat tips for both to Atrios)...