Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Miscellaneous Ruminations on Hoyer

Most days on this blog won't be nearly as busy as yesterday. Just sayin'.

But there will be regular posting over the next few weeks. There'll be plenty to post about, as the new Congress, including its new House Majority Leader, gets busy. I'm gleefully rubbing my hands together in anticipation.

Meanwhile, just a few words about where I'm coming from. First of all, even though I've never met Rep. Hoyer, my feeling is that I like the guy. I'm sure he cultivates that sense of likability, and knows it's worth votes to him, but I find it effective even though I know it may be cultivated, and to some extent calculated.

Another thing is that he's clearly intelligent. I've heard him discuss issues in a 'live' setting - he used to go on the air on the Southern Maryland station Star 98.3 (back in the T-Bone and Heather days, for anyone who lives down thisaway) and while they mostly lobbed softballs at him, he clearly knew a great deal about Social Security and other issues, and just as clearly wasn't reading his answers off of index cards.

Third, Hoyer's clearly on the right side of things, from my perspective, on a core of fundamental issues of economic fairness, like the minimum wage, Social Security, and the estate tax. He is a real Democrat.

The problems I have with Hoyer are problems I frequently have with Dem Congresscritters whose political reflexes were formed in the 1980s. It was a time of much greater willingness to work across party lines, and of much less confrontation. Needless to say, right now we're in a time of much greater confrontation: the GOP doesn't care whose earth they scorch when they fight their battles. I wish it weren't the way it is - I thought 1980s-style politics worked pretty well, really - but you have to deal with the times you're in, not the times you'd like to live in. The GOP will fight clean where they can, and fight dirty the rest of the time, to make life difficult for the Dems. The only way to respond is to fight back.

The Dem advantage is that we can fight back with the truth. But we must be willing to hit hard and often with the truth, until we change the media narrative around the issues. Hoyer's much more of a backslapper than a fighter. Maybe there's a tougher, better fighter inside Hoyer than I see. I can hope.

The other thing from the 1980s is that, as the Washington Monthly piece I've linked to in previous posts points out, it was a time when the Dems figured out how to shake down the corporate/lobbying complex for money. The problem with that is, people who give you money really are going to expect a return on that money. It may not be an explicit "I contribute $2000 to your campaign, and you vote for my amendment to the Furshlugginer Bill" but it's there. Coziness with the lobbyists makes Dems vote a bit more like corporate conservatives than they otherwise would, and makes them vote less for the interests of their constituents.

So I'm not exactly happy about Hoyer's watered-down (thank goodness) K-Street Project. It never hurts to know what the business world wants, but they rarely have trouble getting heard as it is.


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