Dispatches From Bizarro World

As loathe as I am to defend Nancy Pelosi, her her decision to ask Rep. Jefferson to resign from the Ways and Means Committee was the right one, despite what the Congressional Black Caucus may say. Jefferson was caught red-handed taking a $100,000 bribe. This is a very clear-cut case, and if Jefferson had so much as an ounce of decency he would have fallen on his sword already. Then again, expecting decency from a politician these days seems to be too much to ask.

The Congressional Black Caucus carries a lot of weight with House Democrats:

The Jefferson scandal, which after more than a year of investigation blew open Saturday with an FBI raid at his congressional office, has brought into glaring public light long-standing resentments felt by black lawmakers toward the Democratic leadership in the House.

The CBC’s chairman, Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), engaged in a heated argument with Pelosi on the House floor Tuesday afternoon after Watt heard reports that Pelosi was considering calling for Jefferson’s ouster, according to one witness.

Members of the CBC are expected to confront Pelosi today in a meeting that was previously scheduled to address separate concerns about Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.). That meeting is now likely to focus more on Jefferson, a Democratic aide said.

With 43 members, the CBC is a formidable force in the 202-member Democratic caucus and one Pelosi is unusually reluctant to antagonize. Should Democrats take the House, the CBC would control four, and possibly five, committee chairmanships.

This puts Pelosi in a bind – does she kowtow to the CBC or stand up for responsibility in government? Either way, she loses something.

Still, at least Pelosi was acting out of some form of principle – small as it may be. Jefferson has brought shame to the whole House of Representatives and should be treated as the corrupt scoundrel he is. The fact that the CBC is once again closing ranks around one of its own is unsurprising. What would be surprising is if Pelosi holds her ground and demands Jefferson’s resignation.

2 thoughts on “Dispatches From Bizarro World

  1. The fact that this level of breathless defense is already being lavished on Jefferson bodes poorly for the prospects of a non-criminal successfully challenging him in the Democratic primary. Sigh…..

  2. First of all, to say that “the CBC is once again closing ranks against one of its own is unsurprising” completely ignores the Cynthia McKinney episode in which no one in the CBC said anything good about McKinney.

    Second, there are two differences between the Democrats and Republicans here. First, when Democrats do something illegal, the leadership tells the Democrat to step down. When Republicans are doing something illegal, it is the party’s leadhserip. And Second, when Tom DeLay announced he would step down in disgrace, every single Republican in a leadership role–all the way up to Ken Mehlman himself–issued statements about what a fine, upstanding man Tom DeLay was and how he had served his district with dignity all of those years. That is, when Republicans do something illegal, the whole party comes to the rescue of the criminal and there is no need to engage a certain faction in a power struggle.

    Now, since we’ve had a little trouble here before, I am not saying what Jefforson did is right. I think he should resign. Nor am I saying that the CBC is correct–I think they are way off base here. However, the call from Pelosi for Jefferson to step down shows a willingness in the Democratic Party to deal with unacceptable behavior. In the Republican Party, such behavior is rewarded.

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