There are clearly more important immediate things for the California Black community to worry about–the level of involvement of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department in the kidnap, murder and possible rape of Mitrice Richardson; electing Danny Tabor and finally ending the seemingly endless mayoral election process in Inglewood; and getting the votes finally counted between Harris and Cooley, for example.
Nevertheless, as evolving political analysts, it is important for us to keep up with the whole process, from federal to water district level.
That being so, how are the national Dems faring in the aftermath of the ‘shellacking’ they took in the vote for the House of Representatives?
By the way, I still maintain 11/02 was more a product of great marketing and p.r. on the part of the Tea Party and Republicans, including the paid-for pollsters relentlessly feeding non-objective information to the public, than it was any repudiation of President Obama’s policies. They simply bum-rushed the party, but the original guests remained the primary draw, as Andy Rooney noted on “60 Minutes” Sunday night.
The midterms demonstrated the power of relentlessly repeating lies in stirring up the passions of the ‘angry White man kept ill-informed and ignorant.’ If the Dems refuse to get their hands dirty in this media spun world, more political trouble for them will definitely ensue.
But remember, although they have talked little about it, the Tea Partiers and the Repubs lost their most symbolically important battle in this latest political skirmish–Senate Majority leader Harry Reid was the great white whale who got away. All the other fish caught–all 63 in the House and six in the Senate–were small fries by comparison.
So, on Monday of this week, the Senate Democrats re-elected Harry Reid to another term as Senate Majority leader, along with virtually all of the current Senate officers, including Dick Durbin of Illinois, NY’s Chuck Schumer and Washington State’s Patty Murray. Apparently, for the Dems, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? That’s the same team that selected almost all Senate chairs of committees and subcommittees, and the team that led the upper chamber to fundamental votes on Health care and on Financial Reform, among many more.
Hopefully, that team will lead the Senate once more to appropriate the $1.3 billion dollars for the Black Farmers’ settlement before January, 2011 that President Obama has already supported. It is significant that there was not one break in the Senate team’s ranks because of 11/02.
So much for caving in.
This means without convincing Harry Reid of its political or social benefits, not one piece of legislation will get through the U.S. Senate for the next few years. This is a serious recipe for legislative gridlock through the 2012 presidential election.
In the other national forum, the House of Representatives continues its center-stage performance. Forty-year congressman Charles Rangel was just convicted on 11 of 13 counts of unethical behavior and conduct unbecoming. He offered no defense to the House Ethics Committee, instead claiming not to be able to afford a $1 million fee from his attorney’s office, so he had no legal team to go to battle for him.
The action appeared to “shock” the Ethics Committee and onlookers, but it’s just another scene in an on-going political play. Mr. Rangel would not be able to be chair again of any House committee, given the take-over by the Repubs, he knows neither the Ethics Committee nor the full House will expel him after he was resoundingly re-elected recently by his Harlem constituents, and he knows the Dems now need all hands on deck to deal with the 11/02 game changer in the lower chamber.
He will most likely get a public rebuke or a written censure for breaking House rules. The evidence of those violations was massive and very hard to overcome, so why waste the million dollars. A rebuke or censure will not tarnish Mr. Rangel’s legacy in Harlem, and he is already past 80 years old, so essentially, the Ethics Committee punishment will be a wash for him. The same will occur with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who is accused of far less than Mr. Rangel. If she is eventually found guilty, the punishment will not amount to much, and she has more than a 50-50 chance of escaping any punishment at all. Again, it’s time for all Democratic Party hands on deck to face their new minority status in the House.
However, the other drama occurring, which will be resolved one way or the other next week, is whether Mrs. Pelosi, who has been a very effective although controversial House Speaker, will retain her leadership of the House Democrats, this time as Minority Leader. She has the votes and she has the fundraising track record. What she does not have, among other things, is the majority support of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
Most of the CBC members are strongly peeved that Pelosi’s newly designed House Ethics Committee process apparently targeted Black congresspersons, in the interest of showing fairness and even-handedness. All denials to the contrary, the only congressional folk actually prosecuted within the last year or so have been Black, and the vast majority of the ones investigated have also been Black, so that conclusion is a valid one for most CBC members. Primarily for that reason, the CBC would not be unhappy to see Pelosi returned to her previous status as just another House Democrat.
They will probably not get their wish–changing the House leadership, including demoting South Carolina’s Jim Clyburn, the only Black congressman in Pelosi’s upper management team, makes the Dems look weak, and that is not a posture the Dems think is proper or positive.
Politics is war of another kind, and not getting back up swiftly, when one has been floored by the opposition is simply not an astute tactic. Re-electing Pelosi and her team says to the Repubs, ‘we are not afraid of you, bring it on; 2012, here we all come.”
Professor David L. Horne, is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or Non Governmental Organization (NGO). It is the step-parent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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