Harman vs. Hastings

HARMAN vs. HASTINGS….I don’t have a deep knowledge of Jane Harman’s work on the House Intelligence Committee, but what I’ve seen I’ve mostly been impressed with: she’s tough, she knows her brief, and she’s not overly partisan (a negative on some committees, but a plus on Intelligence). She’s probably too close to AIPAC for my taste, but hell ? that would disqualify half the Democrats in Congress. And she’s currently the ranking Democrat on the committee.

But Nancy Pelosi gets to appoint committee chairs in the new Congress, not me, and apparently she dislikes Harman enough that she wants to appoint as chairman Alcee Hastings, currently #2 behind Harman. Kenny Baer isn’t impressed:

The optics of backing Hastings over the eminently qualified Harman are horrendous: Democrats elected to clean up Washington, and the only senior member passed over for a chairmanship is pushed aside for an impeached judge. Democrats need to prove their security credentials, and they appoint a chairman of the Intel Committee who would not pass a background check if he applied for the most junior analyst post at the CIA. What’s worse ? as the Washington Post descibed Pelosi’s move ? is that it’s “a decision pregnant with personal animus.” Message: settling of scores is more important than your security.

To that, I’d add: wouldn’t it be nice if the first woman Speaker had a woman chairing not just a major committee, but a national security-related one?

Politics aside, passing over Harman would be a huge blow to a committee that needs someone leading it with deep experience in, knowledge of, and outrage about the doings of the past six years. And, as one extremely senior Democratic foreign policy hand put it to me last night, there is no one in the entire Caucus with more experience and credibility on intel matters than Harman.

Consider this an open thread on Harman vs. Hastings. Has Harman done a good job on the Intelligence Committee? Is there a downside to her work I’m not familiar with? What say you?

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation