Incoming Speaker Pelosi has now stated that she will not nominate disgraced former judge Alcee Hastings to the House Select Committee on Intelligence. The fact that Pelosi was even considering nominating someone who had been removed from the federal judiciary for bribe-taking was hardly a sign of great wisdom on her part.
Pelosi is refusing to renominate Rep. Jane Harman to the position despite the fact that she’s arguably the best candidate for the job. Her support for the war in Iraq (support shared by a significant fraction of the Democratic caucus at the time) has made her radioactive with the cut-and-run wing of the Democratic Party. Instead, Pelosi seems likely to nominate the next most ranking member of the HSCI, Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas. Despite Rep. Reyes having been a former member of the US Border Patrol, he’s firmly on the side of an open US border. Reyes also voted against the recent Military Commissions Act and other key national security bills.
It will be interesting to see what the ramifications of this will be. The Congressional Black Caucus had been strongly pushing for Hastings, and Pelosi either offered them some kind of quid pro quo or told them to stuff it. Either way, the CBC is not going to be happy with this. Pelosi’s not a good leader, and even a good leader would have a tough time keeping the Democratic caucus in line — herding cats would be much easier. Getting rid of Hastings is unquestionably good news all around, but Pelosi’s likely to pay some political price for it. What that price may be will depend on how willing the CBC is to play ball with her. If she can’t keep them on her side, she’s going to have a lot of trouble over the next two years.