The U.S. Congress (photo by tsnyther)This might not rank up there with the enduring mystery of why Bush 41 a) picked and then b) stuck with Dan Quayle, but incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's very public support of Jack Murtha for majority leader seems oddly naive for a veteran politician.
Not that Murtha didn't deserve a shout out -- he will chair a powerful defense appropriations subcommittee anyway -- but he erased any doubt that a leadership post exceeded his skill set when, just before the election process, he called Pelosi's pet ethics reform rules "total crap." Real men curse, of course, but not about the things that are important to prospective bosses.
Quite a bit is being made of the spectacle of Pelosi being so thoroughly rebuked. I doubt many people are paying much attention, and Republicans deserve to have a laugh at the Democrats expense. It's been tough for them recently.
But why didn't a seasoned pol like Pelosi work in the shadows, at arms length, so she could pay whatever debt she felt she had to Murtha while appearing above it all? Why risk handing your enemies snicker material? I don't think taking a stand and losing -- especially your first fight -- ever reflects back well, unless you can spin that losing was what you had in mind the whole time.
We'll see if this turns out to be emblamatic of poor political judgement or deft long game politics. Speaking of which, for a textbook lesson on how the long game is played read about how Trent Lott battled his way back to the number two Senate Republican post after a humiliating fall from Majority Leader nearly four years ago.
As the NYTimes reports -- and they have covered Lott's lot a lot -- the former number-one earned his way back by stoically paying dues all over again: showing up to and participating in all the hearings, accepting hall monitor assignments, the whole come-in-early-stay-late thing.
And how do you act when you've done all this and clearly have the right to brag on yourself a little? As the NYTimes reports:
Today, Mr. Lott declined the opportunity to gloat. Asked if he felt vindicated, he said: “I’m going to shock you by starting off with the right frame of mind. I defer on this occasion to our leader, and we’ll work together with him and talking about substance more later. The spotlight belongs on him."John McCain was a big supporter of Lott's resurrection, the NYTimes reports, so this could be as much a story about McCain's influence as the presumptive Republican presidential front-runner as it is about his U.S. Senate colleague's tenacity.