Here are some questions every Democrat in America should be asking: why is Steny Hoyer, the House's second-ranking Democrat, going out of his way to undermine the Democratic Party's message on Iraq? Why is Hoyer using his taxpayer-paid staff to place stories bragging about his efforts to shakedown corporate lobbyists? And why has Hoyer undercut his party on critical votes that would have helped Democrats craft a strong, crisp message?
I used to think it was because Steny Hoyer was just an extraordinary stupid person who had been insulated in the Beltway for so long that he was simply suffering from severe brain rot. But alas, I was stupid in thinking that. What's really going on is very obvious: Hoyer is waging a not-so-secret, but oh-so-self-serving campaign to topple House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) and assume the top job in the Democratic Caucus - a job he has coveted since Pelosi beat him out for whip a few years back. And he's waging his campaign even though it is destroying his own party.
You don't need to look very far to see how Hoyer is doing everything he can to self-servingly undermine his party as a way to hurt Pelosi. In today's Washington Post, for instance, the paper reported that according to congressional sources, Hoyer "told colleagues that Pelosi's recent endorsement of a speedy withdrawal [from Iraq] combined with her claim that more than half of House Democrats support her position, could backfire on the party." You might recall that last week it was Hoyer who, after Pelosi came out in support of Jack Murtha's plan for an exit strategy, was quoted in the Post saying withdrawal "could lead to disaster" - a statement only a Washington politician wholly out of touch with ordinary Americans could make, considering a disaster has long been unfolding in Iraq, and considering most Americans now support an exit strategy.
Then, while Pelosi works to resist the influence of corporate interests as she goes after the GOP's "culture of corruption," it is Hoyer who is deliberately landing stories in newspapers about his efforts to formalize his own system of legalized bribery - putting his own campaign wallet ahead of Democrats' efforts to develop a message of reform. Today in Roll Call, for instance, it was Hoyer who placed the story that details his efforts to "woo K Street" (aka. the corporate lobbying community). The story notes he convened a meeting of "50 business-minded Democratic consultants, lobbyists and corporate officers to get them to commit to writing checks." And in case you didn't think Hoyer was trying to land these stories - just check out his website where he brazenly displays a similar story, as if his corporate shakedown operation is a trophy to be marveled at - and not an albatross that directly undermines his party's message.
Finally, it has been Hoyer who has made a point of actively working against Pelosi on major congressional votes. You remember, it was Hoyer - the Democratic Whip - who refused to whip votes together to try to defeat the corporate-written Central American Free Trade Agreement. When Pelosi tried to build opposition to the disgusting bankruptcy bill, it was Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, who not only didn't whip against the bankruptcy bill, but actually voted for it, after pocketing massive campaign contributions from the banking industry. While Pelosi was taking a stand by voting against the Iraq War, Hoyer was voting for the Iraq War. And when Pelosi worked to keep her caucus together in opposing the GOP Energy Bill, it was Hoyer who voted for the nauseating legislation after pocketing more than $300,000 from energy/natural resource industry cash. That legislation that literally gave away billions of taxpayer dollars to the energy industry profiteers who proceeded to bilk Americans with higher and higher gas prices.
These are the facts of the case - they are not debatable. They are cold hard facts. The second ranking Democrat in the U.S. House is focused like a laser not on winning elections, not on helping his party, but on helping himself by trying to take down the House Minority Leader, even as she shows more and more courage and leadership.
Look, I'm not saying Pelosi is perfect at all. But beyond the fact that she's shown some real courage, this isn't really about her - it's about Hoyer, who is clearly interested only in his own self-promotion, not his party. And let me be honest - I used to like Hoyer when I worked on the Appropriations Committee, on which he serves. But over the last few years, this guy has really lost control of his faculties to the point where his obsession with himself and his own ascendance has gotten way out of control.
We should all hope that rank-and-file Democratic Members of Congress reject Hoyer's disgusting behavior. I would encourage everyone who is interested in Democrats winning in 2006, and interested in Democrats winning in the long term, to email or call Hoyer and tell him to stop putting his own petty, personal agenda of self-ambition over his own party. You don't have to be an ardent supporter of Pelosi's to oppose what Hoyer is doing, as it is clearly terrible for his party as a whole. Tell him that he was elected to be the Democratic Whip, and that means whipping votes together to oppose the Republicans, not using his resources to whip his party apart for his own enjoyment and out-of-control personal ambition.