Wednesday, January 11, 2006

''Given this chance, Democrats have got to deliver''

Let's hear from Joel Connelly, our local political columnist from the "traditional media," as he gives the Dems some advice in his column today:

"Guys named Buddy: Centrist, rural Democrats used to be a numerous, constructive presence in the House. Guys named Buddy, from Georgia and Florida, did deals with Seattle's liberal Rep. Mike Lowry in the House Budget Committee. He got money for kids' programs. They got dollars for veterans' services.

The "Buddys" have become an endangered species. Having starved them in past election cycles, the Democrats' House committee should give -- generously.

Effective liberals: You don't have to posture to be progressive. Rep. Jim McDermott and Texas' windy Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee can give all the speeches they want to an empty House chamber. Who's listening?

What are needed are liberal players the likes of the late San Francisco Rep. Phil Burton, who crafted national-park bills that right-wingers had to support. Lowry was a local example. Jay Inslee shows promise. She holds Burton's old seat, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has accomplished little as a strategist or public voice.

Geezers in power: A bevy of Democrats, waiting to assume committee chairs, are veterans of the pre-1994 Congress. The corruption back then can't compare to today's, but Capitol Hill was still a pretty fetid place.

Newt Gingrich did some reforming. He slapped a tenure limit on committee chairs. Sure, the Democrats will find 79-year-old Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., ready to investigate no-bid contracts and Dick Cheney's connection to them. Elsewhere, however, the Dems can't afford to offer a blast from the past.

A program: Democrats have to coherently stand FOR something. The absence of a positive election program helped cost John Kerry the White House. It's not enough just to be against Bush or the religious right.

Appealing candidates: The Dems have already lost a fine potential challenger with Peter Goldmark's withdrawal from a 5th District run at GOP freshman Rep. Cathy McMorris. And attorney Randy Gordon quit the 8th District race against GOP Rep. Dave Reichert.

The Dems have a promising 8th District candidate in ex-Microsoft executive Darcy Burner.

Sadly, nobody of front rank has emerged to take on McMorris or Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash.

Hastings was the GOP leadership's pick to be the chairman of-- and make a shambles out of -- the hithertoindependent House Ethics Committee. This supine hack needs a run for his money. But ... nobody doesn't beat somebody."

"Supine hack." I like that.

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