Friday, November 24, 2006

Hastings Previews Failed Chairmanship

So Alcee Hastings has made his appeal to colleagues to support his bid for Chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee - and he's done so almost in the dead of night. Roll Call reports (the day before Thanksgiving at 4:30 pm) that he has written a letter to his colleagues:

Hastings Appeals to Caucus for Support in Chairmanship Bid
Wednesday, Nov. 22; 4:26 pm
By Jennifer Yachnin,
Roll Call Staff

Breaking his silence on discussions over which Democrat will chair the House Intelligence Committee in the 110th Congress, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) issued a letter to fellow lawmakers this week seeking to quell concerns over his 1988 impeachment as a federal judge as he attempts to stake his claim to the gavel.
In the five-page letter dated Nov. 20, Hastings criticized recent media reports about his impeachment, writing, “a frenetic attempt to justify denying me a position I have certainly earned and am completely competent to perform requires now that I set the record straight.”

“Colleagues, some of the things I write you may be familiar with. Some you may not know. It is all meant to edify you so that you have the best information possible in case you are asked about me or read about me in the paper or online,” Hastings wrote...

According to Hastings’ letter, however, the Florida lawmaker has requested a 45-minute meeting with Pelosi to discuss his 1983 trial and subsequent events, along with University of Miami professor Terence Anderson.

“In particular, Professor Anderson could explain to anyone interested about our experiences at the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court,” Hastings wrote. “And finally, the decision after my election as to whether or not I should be seated in the House of Representatives...”

In the letter, Hastings also criticized recent media reports, which he asserts ignored court transcripts or misstated information: “I hope that my fate is not determined by Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michael Barone, Drudge, anonymous bloggers, and other assorted misinformed fools,” Hastings wrote. “Nor should faceless and nameless people at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, the L.A. Times, the Dallas Morning News, and others take liberties without at least giving me an opportunity to respond...”

In addition, Hastings defended his seven-year tenure on the committee, asserting, “I have been entrusted with America’s secrets. And, I have never violated that trust.”

“The germane question is, if I have not been convicted of a crime, should impeachment in and of itself prevent me from being chair of a committee in Congress,” Hastings wrote.

“There are several reasons why it should not. First of all, the Senate had the option to prohibit me from holding federal office. It specifically chose not to. The ordinary meaning of that act is that impeachment is not to be a bar to my being elected to Congress and consequentially should not be a bar to my being as great a congressperson as my talents allow me to be,” the letter states...

“He’s holding out hope,” the Democratic aide added of Hastings. Citing Pelosi’s ill-fated decision to back a close ally, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), in his bid for the Majority Leader’s office against Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) — who soundly defeated Murtha by more than 60 votes last week — the aide asserted: “It’s not in the cards for her to have another round of stories that she doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

Why is Hastings not doing this through a press conference or a Meet the Press interview? The only reason I can think for making his case this way is that he is afraid of the questioning. Is that what House Democrats are looking for in an Intelligence Committee chair? Someone unable to get before the cameras?

Further, it bespeaks weakness to disclose that he's requested a chance to make his case before Pelosi, but hasn't been granted an audience. Has he gone public on this without realizing it makes him look weak, or has Pelosi left him twisting in the wind? Perhaps this is her way of looking strong: making it appear that she's stringing him along, so it looks like a bigger slam against Hastings (and implicitly the Congressional Black Caucus), when she reads him the handwriting on the wall.

I doubt it though. To me this just looks like a political mistake on Hastings's part - or a desparate move from someone who's already learned he won't be getting the chairmanship.

Bonus: You have to admire the chutzpah in this line of argument: 'who you gonna believe? Me, or Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michael Barone, Drudge, anonymous bloggers, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, L.A. Times, Dallas Morning News, and others?'

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