Let me just grab a highlight or two from Greenwald. From his post:
Either way -- whether Pelosi "closed the door" on Hastings or he preemptively removed himself from consideration -- it seems clear that neither Harman nor Hastings will be the choice for House Intelligence Chair. Thus, as was extremely predictable, the entire media and blogosphere hysteria over this matter over the last two week, used primarily as a tool to smear Pelosi once the all-important Steny Hoyer Scandal ran its course, was based on nothing but fiction and imagination.
...All along, the issue -- at least to me -- was not so much who will be selected as House Intelligence Committee Chair, but rather, that the media has spent two weeks vilifying Pelosi for refusing to appoint Harman supposedly out of "personal" animus and attempting to appoint Hastings instead, even though: (a) there has never been any evidence that "personal" issues, rather than substantive objections, motivated Pelosi's opposition to Harman and (b) there was no evidence that she was planning to appoint Hastings. It was just all fabricated and repeated endlessly as though it were true, even though it was based on nothing.
...Pelosi never said she was even considering Hastings. All of the media reports suggesting otherwise were either based on pure speculation or, as Jay B notes in Comments, may well have come from the camp of Jane Harman, who was campaigning heavily for the position (perhaps too heavily) and easily could have created the myth that it was either her or the impeached Hastings whom Pelosi was considering. Either way, it's time for the oh-so-serious-and-responsible Beltway mavens as well as those desperate to smear Pelosi to find a new gossip item with which to depict Pelosi as a vindictive, unserious loser.
And in his comments section, Greenwald (writing under his own name, unless the spoofer is being spoofed) adds this:
They're going to say that she really wanted to appoint Hastings but was pressured into not doing so by the outcry, showing - again - how weak she is - she can't even get the Committee Chairs she wants. The people doing all the braying over the last few weeks will actually now take the credit for their great success - they saved the Republic from Alcee Hastings.
If I may be so bold as to summarize his theme, it is that Pelosi did nothing wrong - *NOTHING*. The whole "story" is a media invention intended to smear and belittle Pelosi.
Just a few thoughts and queries:
Charles Babington of the WaPo reported in Sept 2005 that Hastings expected to move up, and got an appropriate quote from Hastings. Did that emanate from the Harman camp, or was it nothing? Steve Clemons, a left of center blogger, confirmed Babington's story immediately - also a fabrication?
On Oct 24, the NY Times reported that Pelosi had policy and personal problems with Harman; the AP reported something similar on Oct 27, and both stories mentioned Reyes as a possible alternative. Here is the AP lead:
Harman Intelligence post at risk
ERICA WERNER /Associated Press
WASHINGTON - As top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jane Harman would seem positioned to take the gavel if her party wins control of the House on Nov. 7.
Instead, Harman faces being sidelined by either of two other lawmakers now viewed as front-runners: Reps. Alcee Hastings of Florida and Silvestre Reyes of Texas, the second- and third-ranking Democrats on the intelligence panel.
Harman, 61, used her seniority on the committee to build a national profile on intelligence and defense. But her hawkish views hardened an ideological gulf between her and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the liberal House minority leader. Both are Californians.
And the Times:
Standing in [Harman's] way is another California lawmaker, Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ speaker-in-waiting, who would have the power to pick the leader of each committee. The relationship between the two has soured in recent years over political rivalries and policy disputes, and Congressional officials on both sides of the divide say Ms. Pelosi would most likely look elsewhere to fill the Intelligence Committee’s top job.
Ms. Harman, a moderate from Southern California, has been one of the party’s most outspoken voices on national security matters since the Sept. 11 attacks. But she has also drawn sharp criticism from more liberal Democrats, including Ms. Pelosi, who have privately said that she has not sufficiently used her position to attack the Bush administration for its prewar intelligence failures on Iraq and for its use of secret programs like the domestic eavesdropping carried out without warrants by the National Security Agency.
Two candidates whom Ms. Pelosi is said to be considering for Intelligence Committee chairman are Representatives Alcee L. Hastings of Florida and Silvestre Reyes of Texas, both of whom currently serve on the panel.
Does either story square with the notion that the media only reported the catfight and presented a false Harman/Hastings dichotomy? Or aren't the Times and the AP sufficiently big enough media players?
Bonus questions - in this election cycle, for the first time ever, the NY Times endorsed only Democrats; in their endorsement of the opponent to Chris Shays, they were quite clear that this was not meant personally and was really directed at Republican control:
Mr. Shays has been a good congressman, but not good enough to overcome the fact that his re-election would help empower a party that is long overdue for a shakeup.
So - wasn't the Times a natural ally of Ms. Pelosi? Why would they join the snarling pack, fabricate stores, and attempt to smear her, as with this Nov 9 endorsement of Jane Harman?
As a related question, isn't media management a critical part of a successful Washington politician's job? Hasn't Pelosi come up a bit short in this department - she left Hastings name hanging out there for over a year, raised his hopes and the hopes of the Congressional Black Caucus, didn't fight for him at crunch time, and implemented a cut and run strategy (which worked!). Is that really astute politics, or could she have handled this better?
Just One More: I have been advised that Glenn Greenwald is an important thinker and best-selling author whose work has been quoted on the floor of the US Senate. Yet I can't find a single lefty blogger willing to put on the old critical thinking cap and call "bullshit" on this post (although Josh Marshall did essentially that with Greenwald's earlier fantasy).
Is Greenwald irrelevant, do lefties sort of treat him like the crazy aunt in the attic who occasionally says something sensible, is every word he utters taken as gospel, or what?
Inquiring minds want to know (and need another laugh).
MORE: Let's review the Times' hard-hitting coverage of the Hastings Shuffle. This archive search covers the period from Sept 1, 2006 to Nov 27, 2006. That somewhat arbitrary cutoff was driven by the fact that Greenwald has (if I can trust Google), tackled the Pelosi-Harman-Hastings puzzle only three times.
Nov 17 was focused on the Hoyer-Murtha debacle; Greenwald's contributions to the Harman debate were to insist that the media was characterizing the Pelosi-Harman rift as a catfight based on personalities rather than substance, and to assert, incorrectly, that Ms. Harman was currently under investigation by the FBI. Subsequent reporting is that the investigation "no longer being actively pursued", is "dormant", or that "there has been no significant investigative activity on the issue in recent months".
The NY Times had no stories in September on Hastings, and one on October 24 (the MSM blackout on Hastings coverage was mocked by Mickey Kaus on Oct 23; did he get results or bellyflop? I say, "Results!").
The Oct 24 piece, as noted above, stands in opposition to both of Greenwald's hypotheses, since it goes beyond the catfight and the false dichotomy.
On Nov 9 the Times editors endorsed Ms. Harman as follows:
She can send a good signal, for instance, by appointing Representative Jane Harman of California as head of the Intelligence Committee. Ms. Harman has been the ranking Democrat, and she has, in general, done her job well. But some of her fellow members regard her as insufficiently aggressive when it comes to criticizing the Bush administration. Ms. Pelosi, who does not get along well with Ms. Harman, is said to be considering Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida, a former federal judge who was impeached on bribery charges and removed from the bench. If she wanted to put her wrong foot forward, that would be a good way to do it.
That put the substantive differences ahead of the personality problems but did not highlight other alternatives. That said, the Times editors may be serious when they say that Ms. Harman "has, in general, done her job well" - maybe someone should alert them to the NSA warrantless eavesdropping story.
Mark Mazzetti had a story on Nov 10. Highlights:
The two women, both from California, have long had a frosty relationship, and Ms. Pelosi has been angry with Ms. Harman for not using her position on the Intelligence Committee to attack the Bush administration aggressively.
Catfight, then substantive dispute.
Ms. Pelosi has told colleagues she plans to replace Ms. Harman on the Intelligence Committee, possibly with Representative Alcee Hastings of Florida, although she has given no public indication of her choice for the post since the election.
And after a big skip:
Representative Silvestre Reyes. Democrat of Texas and also a committee member, has emerged as a possible compromise candidate. But Ms. Pelosi has also told colleagues that she could select someone who is not currently on the committee.
Appearing Wednesday on CNN, Ms. Pelosi said that it was her prerogative to select an entirely new Intelligence Committee at the beginning of each Congress, and that it is the one committee on which seniority rules are not recognized.
No false dichotomy, and a clear statement that other candidates are in play.
Carl Hulse, in the last three paragraphs of a story about the Murtha debacle, wrote this:
Ms. Pelosi's party problems are not all behind her, as she faces a tough decision on selecting a chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
On the one hand, she is under pressure from black lawmakers to promote a committee veteran, Alcee L. Hastings of Florida, a federal judge who was removed from the bench by Congress after a bribery charge in 1989, though he was acquitted in a criminal case.
At the same time, some more conservative Democrats who supported Mr. Hoyer have been stepping up their campaign for Representative Jane Harman of California, who is the senior Democrat on the panel but has clashed with Ms. Pelosi.
That works for Greenwald's case (I'm arguing it is a throwaway tidbit, but one might argue it is a brilliant encapsulation of the media soundbite). Hulse notes the personality "clash" and does not note Reys or others. Doesn't he read the Times?
Maureen Dowd joins in on Nov 18 - we know she does not follow the news, and she is reliably half-clueless here:
Everyone in Washington was perplexed at Ms. Pelosi's ham-handed effort to sabotage not only Mr. Hoyer but her former friend and fellow Californian, Jane Harman. In what looks like another self-defeating personality clash, she has been maneuvering to bypass the senior member of the House Intelligence Committee and give the chairmanship either to the ethically challenged Alcee Hastings of Florida or a compromise candidate, Silvestre Reyes of Texas.
No personality clash is so petty that Ms. Dowd won't lead with it, but she does get Reyes into the mix.