Showdown for House Majority Leader

Soon-to-be Speaker Pelosi is apparently strongly backing John Murtha for majority leader over current Democratic whip Steny Hoyer. Murtha gained national prominence due to his vocal opposition to the Iraq war, but now people are discovering that he’s a pretty conservative Democrat. But wait, didn’t everyone know this? After all, plenty of people were loudly anti-war before Murtha spoke up, but the reason he got serious attention was precisely because he’s not very liberal—the media had treated the anti-war position as a sign of left-wing fanaticism until Murtha forced a change in the narrative. (By that time opposition to the war was already quite widespread.) Apparently that change didn’t last, if people are now assuming he’s liberal just because he’s anti-war.
Personally, I prefer Murtha for majority leader just for the sake of party unity and discipline. He is a close ally of Pelosi (despite their different positions on the political spectrum), while apparently Hoyer is a rival of the new Speaker. Since now would be an incredibly bad time for an intra-party power struggle, Murtha seems like the right choice.
(The second link above uses Keith Poole’s congressional rankings to establish Murtha’s position on the spectrum; Mason may be able to comment on whether he saw a similar result in his analysis.)

6 thoughts on “Showdown for House Majority Leader

  1. Chris L-S

    Awwww, I was looking forward to one of the first acts of a Democratic majority to be an intra-party bloodletting… *8)
    Actually, I think this is a very smart move on the part of Pelosi – the reason (in my mind) that the Democrats won was because they captured the center of the country, and immediately moving to alienate that center would be a really bad move.

  2. Mason

    Keith Poole is one of the masters of this stuff (maybe the master). When we use political spectra to combine with our networks stuff, we typically just use simpler methods because we just need it for proof of concept.
    I don’t actually have it handy in the plots. (There are too many Reps, so we don’t include labels for the Members of the House, and I don’t feel like going into Matlab.) I’m being lazy, but if I bothered to look, I could get you this for either the roll call (which is the data Poole uses, so that will be similar) or the legislation cosponsorship. (This does remind me that I need to get my butt in gear to revise one paper on this stuff and finish the new one on the legislation cospsonorship.)

  3. Arcane Gazebo

    I wondered why anyone would bother trolling this low-traffic blog, but then I remembered there are a lot of recently unemployed Republicans with plenty of free time.
    Anyway, while turning down a bribe is not in fact a crime, Murtha’s ethics issues are disturbing.

  4. Mason

    You could always just pull a Mark Twain and say that Murtha is an idiot as part of the definition of being a Congressman. (I loved The Gilded Age!)

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