Democrats Again Pass on Bishop

Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) decided to appoint Texas Democrat Silvestre Reyes to head the House Intelligence Committee. Georgia’s Sanford Bishop was rumored to be on the short list for the post.

Many Democrats, especially in Georgia, thought Bishop – an African American and member of the Blue Dog Coalition – to be a very attractive alternative to the committee’s most senior members, Alcee Hastings and Jane Harman. Pelosi ruled-out Hastings because of his turbulent past. She passed on Harman largely because of an ongoing political rivalry.

The chairmanship appointment was seen in Congress as the second major test of the incoming Speaker’s leadership. But on Friday, Pelosi announced Reyes will be the Intel Chair for the 110th Congress.

Pelosi’s announcement ended weeks of speculation within the party about who would get the key position, a question that had created political turmoil for her before she takes her new leadership post.

The Texan has said he will demand more information on the Bush administration’s most classified programs, including the detention of enemy combatants and the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of domestic communications.

He also plans to focus on the war in Iraq, threats from terrorists, the spread of weapons, diversity at U.S. intelligence agencies and civil liberties.

And this is not the first time Pelosi has left Bishop at the altar.

Pelosi passed over a member of the Black Caucus for a second time. In 2000, she allowed Harman to leapfrog Rep. Sanford Bishop of Georgia for the intelligence panel’s top Democratic slot. By choosing Reyes, Pelosi elevated the panel’s No. 3 Democrat and gained favor with Hispanic groups who represent the fastest growing demographic classification in America.

But at least Hastings was taking the disappointment in stride.

As for Hastings, some critics and ethics watchdogs had questioned whether the Florida lawmaker — who was impeached as a federal judge — was the right person for a post that has access to some of the nation’s top secrets.

In a sign that not all hard feelings are gone, a Hastings statement this week announcing he would not get the job closed with: “Sorry, haters, God is not finished with me yet.”

It looks like the “haters” may have a new Cynthia McKinney on their hands with Hastings. But Democrats should be glad this whole mess is behind them… for now.

19 comments

  1. Mojo says:

    This entire entry is misleading. How did Pelosi pass on Bishop when Silvestre Reyes is the next in rank behind Harman and Hastings on the Intelligence Committee. Hell, Bishop isn’t even on the Intelligence Committee. “Passing” on Bishop isn’t a story b/c he was never passed on anything, the real story would have been if Pelosi had “passed” on Reyes to appoint Bishop to the position.

  2. Adam Fogle says:

    Pelosi had the option of choosing Bishop. Since committee rank was obviously thrown out the window in her decision, Bishop theoretically had as much of a shot as anyone. Especially considering he used to be on the committee.

    By going with Reyes, she thus chose to”pass” on the Bishop option.

    Quit trying to pick a fight with everyone Mojo.

  3. Mojo says:

    She went down the line on the Committee and made the choice according to rank. Harman was out for supporting Bush and the Iraq war. Hastings was out for past ethical problems. Reyes was the next in line and was chosen. How did she “pass” on Bishop when he wasn’t even on the Committee? Was Bishop on Pelosi’s short list, or was his chances pure rumour and speculation? I think you answered that when you stated that he was “rumored to be on the short list.” Was Bishop ever a viable option? Most likely not.

    I noticed that you conveinently left out the fact that Reyes was third in rank or that Bishop wasn’t on the Committee or that there is no evidence that Pelosi was even considering him for the position.

    You seem like the rest of the “mainstream” media, attempting to create controversy where none exists.

  4. liberty21 says:

    The poll I conducted at D polls is now officially closed. Here are the results of the PSC District 3 Runoff
    Chuck Eaton (R) 73%
    David Burgess (D) (I) 27%

  5. burnsbacker says:

    so what insight do those poll numbers offer as to why sanford bishop was passed over?

    also what is the methodology for this poll?

  6. David says:

    Someone help me here. Is Bishop actually currently ON the intelligence committee? If he isn’t then WHY would Pelosi even consider him?

    I know the Speaker can choose any member to head any committee, but if they aren’t actually a member of the committee in question, she probably won’t tick off those now majority members who do swerve. Petty politics prevents Harman’s nomination and Hastings is a crook. So, it would logically follow that another sitting Dem from the committee would get the nod. Right?

  7. Mojo says:

    David, a voice of reason in a Fogleized world.

    Bishop was NOT on the intelligence committee, and Reyes was the next in rank behind Harman and Hastings. You have to excuse Adam, he attempting to create a story and facts and common sense just get in the way.

  8. Harry says:

    It’s a political problem for Pelosi. When a member of the Congressional Black Caucus is passed over, then another has to be at least put out in the media and a pretext made. It had the effect of forestalling the base reaction for a few days until the media can fuzz out the problem by unobtrusively laying out a review of Hastings “background”. Bishop was the placeholder goat in this.

  9. Adam Fogle says:

    Bishop was on the Intelligence Committee for a few terms prior to the 109th, when he left to fill a vacancy on the Appropriations Committee.

    Bishop has four years of seniority on Reyes and has logged more hours on intelligence than Reyes. So the two were basically given equal consideration in the decision.

    It is not at all uncommon for leadership t0 chair an old member of the committee, especially, if like Bishop, they have a great deal of experience.

    This is also the last time I will comment on this because Mojo, for some reason, feels the need to insinuate petty grievances based on non-empirical observations that posit some sort of conspiracy-laden hidden agenda in my post.

    In other words, Mojo’s just looking for stuff that isn’t there.

  10. David says:

    Ok…That’s what I thought the situation might be. I remember when Newt bit the dust as speaker there was talk of naming Bob Dole as his replacement. The speaker’s position does NOT have to be a member of Congress, just a person selected from those House members serving. The Bishop idea was a good theory but wasn’t gonna happen in reality.

  11. Mojo says:

    Adam Fogle,

    “Bishop was on the Intelligence Committee for a few terms prior to the 109th, when he left to fill a vacancy on the Appropriations Committee.”

    The operative word being WAS.

    “Bishop has four years of seniority on Reyes and has logged more hours on intelligence than Reyes. So the two were basically given equal consideration in the decision.”

    Logged more hours? Hasn’t Reyes served longer on the Intelligence Committee than Bishop?

    “It is not at all uncommon for leadership t0 chair an old member of the committee, especially, if like Bishop, they have a great deal of experience.”

    Great deal more experience? Bishop has only been a Congressman a years more than Reyes and Reyes has served longer on the Intelligence Committee than Bishop did. Great deal more experience?

    “This is also the last time I will comment on this because Mojo, for some reason, feels the need to insinuate petty grievances based on non-empirical observations that posit some sort of conspiracy-laden hidden agenda in my post.”

    Damn, I guess I need to take back that thesaurus I bought you for Festivus.

  12. atlantaman says:

    I’d say Fogle has made some pretty good points. It’s not at all unprecedented and as someone else mentioned, if you are going to eliminate a black from the running you better at least pretend another black had a shot at it to appease the black caucus.

  13. kspencer says:

    May I kill a few misconceptions here?

    First, and probably most important – the rules for this committee are different than for most others. For example: there is no “seniority”. This is tied to another fact – this is one of the few committees for which there are term limits.

    Harman was facing something significantly more important than her relationship with Pelosi – the fact that she’d reached the term limits. To be chair she’d have needed Pelosi to spend capital to get a waiver from the house so she could remain on the committee in the first place. Given one of the pervasive memes of the Democratic platform this year was that rules are to be followed, this was quite a hurdle.

    re Hastings – yes, he was a strong contender. But much of his case was only strong on the surface. Setting aside the issue of his ethical history, the weight of the CBC wasn’t really that strong. See, the CBC has more chairs (proportionally) than any other caucus. And they got (unexpectedly) their man in as whip. The CBC support of Hastings for this chair was similar to the support given Jefferson last year – grudging and pro forma.

    On the other hand, there’s a caucus that until this had zero chairs. Yet it’s becoming one of the strong ones – not only with memberships, but with national support. That’s the hispanic caucus – of which Reyes is a member.

    Sorry, folks, but Bishop was a long shot. So it’s neither a loss for Georgia nor a mark against Pelosi.

  14. Harry says:

    Pelosi is certainly coming across as a not very adept Machiavellian, which ability the position calls for without overly appearing as such. Hopefully the House GOP will get advantage of her ineptness/weaknesses.

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