Bishop Could Head House Intelligence Committee

Following the John Murtha debacle, House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi potentiallly has a mess on her hands: What to do with the Intelligence Committee chairmanship? Word on the Hill is that Pelosi is “determined” to make Hastings the next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

In 1989 however, Hastings, a judge at the time, was impeached by a Democratically-controlled House and subsequently convicted and removed by the Senate for bribery and perjury. So Pelosi’s apparent support for Hastings, like with Murtha, is causing a great deal of uproar.

But if she passes on Hastings, then will upset the Congressional Black Caucus.

The top Democrat on the committee is California Rep. Jane Harman. But Harman is a major political rival of Pelosi’s and was reportedly the subject of an FBI investigation for improperly influencing a Justice Department probe. Pelosi aides have also said that she is leaning heavily against choosing Harman.

With “diversity” and “ridding Congress of corruption” at the top of the Democrats laundry list, both Hastings and Harman would be poor choices.

The solution? TIME Magazine has said that Georgia Rep. Sanford Bishop could be the best solution. From the article:

Pelosi may have few good options in the current dilemma. If she decides to replace Harman with someone other than Hastings, she could easily offend the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), which has insisted that Hastings’ seniority entitles him to the position.

But some aides have also rumored that there might be another solution: installing a former panel member, Georgia Rep. Sanford Bishop, who is also African-American, in place of either Harman or Hastings. Whatever happens, one thing is clear: after her Murtha debacle, Pelosi — and the Democrats, for that matter — cannot afford another misstep so early in her tenure.

Bishop however, said he supports Hastings.
Around and ’round we go!


  1. Valedictorian says:

    Putting Hastings in would be ridiculous considering she voted for his impeachment, along with all but three (i think) Democrats and a number of Republicans.

  2. Putting Bishop in would be great for Democrats. If he were to switch to intelligence, it would free up one of his seniority spots on another committee, which would mean either Scott, Marshall, Barrow or even Hank Johnson (were one of them on that committee) would move further up the ladder.

    Ironically, the Ga GOP tried to remove Marshall and Barrow with redistricting. Had they succeeded, Georgia would have been greatly handicapped in the new Democratic controlled Congress. Good thing for the people of this state that they aren’t as good at drawing a Republican leaning map as the federal courts are.

    GOPers: Could the fact that you guys completely screwed up and got greedy (trying to take out both Marshall and Barrow instead of just Barrow) be the best possible argument for having a court or independent panel draw the maps?

    In my eyes, two extremely stubborn Republicans are responsible for the failure of Georgia Republicans to pick up at least one of these seats. One is obviously Mac Collins. Marshall is very strong and almost unbeatable (his district is awful for a Democrat). But Mac had to have a district drawn for him. Meanwhile, Barrow’s district is still greater than 45% AA. If the R’s had put Marshall in the 45% AA district (minus Collins, or just said to Collins you’re on your own pal) and put Barrow in the 31% AA district they almost surely would have defeated Barrow.

    The other stubborn old dude who messed up the map? Charlie Norwood. He *insisted* on having his district number the way it used to be. Had Republicans called the new Athens district #12 and the new Barrow district #10, Barrow would have had to explain why he was moving to a district he didn’t represent. Instead, Barrow could just say I’m already #12 and I’m sticking with #12. Since he won by 900 votes, you can imagine that almost anything handled less poorly by the Republicans could have made the winning difference.

    Live and learn, dudes.

  3. atlantaman says:

    The only problem for the Democrats I see in putting Bishop as Chair is that he’s a fairly moderate guy. He’s represents a rural farming district and he’s no John Lewis or Shirley Franklin. I assure there were no “Vote for Sanford or you will die” commercials running in his district.

    The Dems are looking for a grenade thrower and Bishop, to his credit, has never fit that mold.

  4. rightofcenter says:

    I rarely agree with ya, but your analysis of the screw up in redistricting is spot-on. Looking at the demographics, it is amazing that the Rs didn’t give Max Burns a better shot at winning. That he almost did anyway is a testament to his attractiveness as a candidate.

  5. ROC, to be fair, the #1 priority of redistricting was to solidify Phil Gingrey’s district, and while that isn’t exactly hard, they did do a good job of that. On the old map, I believe Gingrey would have been easily defeated this year by a Rob Teilhet or similar candidate.

    However, that said, after Gingrey was safe they got greedy in going for 2 additional pickups instead of 1. Now, at the time maybe Republicans believed (as Rove continued to believe until election day) that they would lose between 12-15 seats, and so maybe they believed 2 seats in Georgia was going to make the difference.

    Ultimately, 1 or 2 seats in Georgia would have meant a Democratic majority of 27 seats instead of 29, so that wouldn’t have made a difference. However, in a 70% white district (as opposed to a 52% white district) I fail to see how Burns — or any other Republican, loses.

  6. Adam Fogle says:


    Bishop is actually a member of the Blue Dog coalition – so I’ll even admit he’s more modern than most of his Democratic colleagues from previous Congresses.

    And with so many pro-life, pro-gun, moderate Democrats winning seats for the 110th Congress, putting a moderates in charge is smarter move than taking the party ANY FURTHER to the left.

    Coupled with the fact that Dems are looking to fill top positions with minorities, Bishop makes sense.

  7. atlantaman says:

    “putting a moderates in charge is smarter move than taking the party ANY FURTHER to the left.”

    I agree with you 100%, but based on her short tenure as Speaker of the House I’m not sure if Pelosi is prepared to make the smart move.

  8. atlantaman says:

    I don’t necessarily know whether Murtha is a liberal or not. I know that he was popular within the defense ranks, but then he came out against the war – which made him a darling of the left.

    It depends on what you mean by liberal. He seems very old school so I can’t imgaine socially that he’s all that liberal – I think he’s pro-life. Is he liberal in the pork grubing sense that so many old politicians from both parties have become addicted to, I’d have to say yes on that one.

    One thing for sure is that Hoyer was definitley supported by the moderate/conservative wing of the party and Murtha’s support came mainly from the old hacks.

    What I meant about Pelosi and the smart move wasn’t liberal vs. conservative, it was the first thing she put her weight beind ended up splattering egg on her face. She seems to be allowing her personal petty bickering to get in the way of sound political decisions. I think most reasonable Democrats would have to agree that Harman is the obvious choice.

    So if putting a moderate black as chair of intelligence is the smart thing, I wouldn’t count on Pelosi to do it.

  9. rugby_fan says:

    the only place where Murtha is liberal (ignoring Iraq) is the way he gets great amounts of lucre for the military. Lifetime A+ NRA rating, pro life, smaller gov’t…

    Pelosi is a smart politician. I say that disagreeing with most, if not all of her policies–and I don’t believe she will move the Democrats to the left, much to GOP chagrin. She will make a clown and fool of herself, much to DNP chagrin.

  10. Adam Fogle says:

    the only place where Murtha is liberal (ignoring Iraq)…

    You cannot “ignore Iraq.”  Well what else is Murtha known for besides Iraq and Abscam?

    Honestly, would Murtha even have been CONSIDERED for the #2 post were it not for his outspokenness on Iraq?

    Because his extremely liberal criticism of the War in Iraq is about the only thing that recently thrust Murtha into the limelight, and because it was truly the only reason he was a candidate for majority leader, Murtha represents the liberal faction of the party.

    His stances on other issues are, for all intents and purposes, moot.

  11. rugby_fan says:

    Looking at Murtha’s overall political mores, he is conservative (save for his stance on Iraq).

    I can tell you what Murtha is also known for, he is known for making sure that the Pentagon has all the money it needs to operate and expand.

    No, but what is your point?

    Your last point is flawed. He does not represent the “liberal faction” of the Democrats if he does not agree with their philosophies.

    But I guess though you are of the belief that whatever puts someone in the news is indicative of their entire political beliefs.

  12. atlantaman says:

    “I don’t believe she will move the Democrats to the left, much to GOP chagrin.”

    I think that is the million dollar question. Obviously I’m being somewhat facetious when I imply she is not smart as you don’t become Speaker of the House by being stupid. I think she made an amateur mistake just as anyone would being brand new to an office like that.

    There are a lot of old wackos that are in-line for Committee chairs – they seem to be substantially out-of-step with the younger Democrats in the House. Most reasonable people would have to admit it’s insaine that Alcee Hastings name is even being mentioned as Chair of Intelligence. Pelosi voted to impeach the man for God’s sake and now we are talking about giving him one of the most sensitive positions on the Hill.

    The big question is will Pelosi be able to put a lid on these “wild eyed” liberals over the next two years or are they going to implode…I don’t know the answer.

  13. Atlantaman, while I’m not exactly thrilled myself about some of the Democratic committee chairs in waiting, why did the Republicans keep Pombo as chair of an environmental committee, or Inhofe in the Senate?

    I mean, these two guys are clearly not only on the wrong side of public opinion (which is slowly but surely solidifying its long held support for pro-environmental policies) but they were also (in Pombo’s case) extremely ineffective.

    You and I may not be thrilled about Rangel and others, but at least they’ll be more effective in advancing legislation than their Republican priors were.

  14. atlantaman says:

    “You and I may not be thrilled about Rangel and others, but at least they’ll be more effective in advancing legislation than their Republican priors were.”

    I may disagree with most of what Rangel has to say, but I wouldn’t dispute his right to be Chair of Ways and Means. He’s got the intellect and the Democrats won, so be it…but Hastings is a joke.

    I think that the Republicans were plenty effective at advancing legislation, which is the problem. I can’t think of a single “feel good” program that hasn’t prospered under Republican control. They were spending like a bunch of druken sailors and there is a side of me that believes they deserved to lose.

    While the Democrats still chose to complain it wasn’t enough, that prescription drug program is going to rank right up there with Social Security and Medicare as reasons this country is going to be radically different in the next thirty years. I haven’t decided whether we are going to become a complete Socialist state or if the working class will revolt when they figure out they are individually carrying 10 non-productive citizens on their backs – the only thing I’m sure of is there is going to be a big change.

    Might be a lot of folks converting their green backs into gold bullion and moving to Costa Rica.

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