Monday, January 01, 2007

Can Hoyer Lead?

This is my biggest area of concern about Steny Hoyer as Majority Leader. He surely fits the historic job description quite well: being the leader of the House Democratic Caucus, making sure legislation gets drafted well, voted on, and passed. He's got the tools for that.

The problem is, we need more than that right now. The Democrats' Job One is to change the political dialogue, which has completely been on the GOP's issues, and completely on their terms, these past six years.

That's going to take leadership, not just inside the halls of Congress, but in the broader public sphere. And I worry that Hoyer's just not the man for it. I hope I'm wrong, but I just haven't seen much of that in him.

One of the most frustrating aspects of being a constituent of Hoyer's has been that it's been next to impossible to find out where he stands on a bill before he's actually voted on it. Over and over again during the past two years, I've called up his office to find out where he stands on a bill before Congress, and I've never come across an instance where he's been willing to tip his hand before the vote. That's not leadership.

He's going to need to be the leader now: to be the guy saying to the TV cameras, "Here's what Democrats stand for on this issue," and rounding up the votes to make it happen. I'm waiting to see this side of Hoyer, and few will be more delighted than I if he rises to the occasion. But I'm not optimistic.


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