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'Why is Pelosi so tough on Harman?' asked Chris Matthews

Ron Brynaert
Published: Monday November 13, 2006

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On Sunday, MSNBC host Chris Matthews asked why the first woman slated to become Speaker was "so tough" on the House intelligence committee's ranking Democrat, who would normally be in line for a leadership position.

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has already endorsed Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA) for majority leader, which places the Speaker-to-be in the middle of "a contentious intraparty fight between Murtha and her current deputy, Maryland's Steny H. Hoyer," the Washington Post reports.

"Pelosi has also all but decided she will not name the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) to chair that panel next year, a decision pregnant with personal animus," Jonathan Weisman writes for the Post.

NBC's Andrea Mitchell explained Pelosi's "personal animus" to Harmon on Matthews' show Sunday.

Pelosi believes Harman "hasn't been tough enough on the Bush administration, on intelligence issues, that she wasn’t, that she was too moderate, too centrist, even though she is the most credible Democrat on all of these issues and has a national following and it is a really nasty fight among two powerful congresswomen," said Mitchell.

"Pelosi has nursed a well-publicized grudge against her fellow California Democrat because she believes Harman has not been a tough enough critic of President Bush on security matters, while using her ties to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee to lobby for the chairmanship," Shailagh Murray and Juliet Eilperin reported for the Post last week.

Reports indicate that Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings may become chairman, instead, due to considerable lobbying by the Congressional Black Caucus.

Some conservatives have criticized Pelosi for considering Hastings, a former federal judge in Florida, since he was impeached and removed from the bench after being indicted for alleged bribery in the late eighties, although the court acquitted him of all charges.

"Should Pelosi actually follow through and give Hastings the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee, it would turn the House of Representatives into Theater of the Absurd," Mary Laney wrote for the Chicago-Sun Times.

Jim Kouri, writing for the Post Chronicle, says that the "idea of putting this sleazebag in a position where he would be privy to the most sensitive national security secrets is untenable."

"The fact that Hastings is being seriously considered for such a sensitive position, and the mainstream news media don't appear outraged, adds to the enormous amount of evidence that the MSM are lapdogs for the Democrats," Kouri continues.

"Imagine if Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert appointed an impeached judge to a key committee chairmanship," Kouri writes. "Would not that be tied into the mantra "a culture of corruption" by the elite news media?"

But on MSNBC, Mitchell said that Hastings may not be Pelosi's pick to head the committee.

"Speaker Pelosi, Speaker-designate Pelosi is not going to yield on Jane Harman on the intelligence committee, and a little-known decision by Rahm Emanuel not to challenge an African-American congressman for the whip post means that the Congressional black leadership will feel that they have already been mollified," Mitchell claimed. "This will take Alcee Hastings, an African-American off the waiting list for intelligence and they're going to go to an Hispanic for intelligence."

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), who is Hispanic, is the third-ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee.