Congressional Black Caucus can't be this dumb.
Politics: There is a time to play politics and a time to actually use your brain when playing politics.
|Pelosi is in a box of her own devising. The panel's ranking Democrat is her fellow Californian Jane Harman -- smart and hardworking but also abrasive, ambitious and, in Pelosi's estimation, insufficiently partisan on the committee. So Pelosi, once the intelligence panel's ranking Democrat herself, has made clear that she doesn't intend to name Harman to the chairmanship. The wrong decision, in my view, but one that's magnified by the unfortunate fact that next in line is Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings. In 1989, after being acquitted in a criminal trial, Hastings was stripped of his position as a federal judge -- impeached by the House in which he now serves and convicted by the Senate -- for conspiring to extort a $150,000 bribe in a case before him, repeatedly lying about it under oath and manufacturing evidence at his trial. Ordinarily, that might doom Hastings's chances, but the situation is further inflamed by racial politics: Hastings is African American, and the Congressional Black Caucus has made it clear that it will not tolerate his rejection. Another black lawmaker, Georgia's Sanford Bishop, was passed over to accommodate Harman, who reclaimed her seniority when she returned to Congress in 2000 after a gubernatorial run. And the black caucus is still smarting over Pelosi's move to oust Louisiana's William J. Jefferson from the Ways and Means Committee after the FBI found a freezerful of cash in Jefferson's home. Pelosi has floated the notion of naming the intelligence committee's third-ranking Democrat, Texan Silvestre Reyes, who is Hispanic, but that's not flying with the black caucus. "The CBC would not look kindly on that," caucus spokeswoman Myra Dandridge told The Post's Jonathan Weisman. "The first order of business of the CBC chairman would be to protect his members, and Alcee Hastings has the seniority, the knowledge and the experience to be chairman of the intelligence committee."|