What I can't understand is why Nancy Pelosi is waiting so long before signaling her choice for chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Here's what her drag-it-out approach has accomplished:
(1) It has generated numerous news reports (and blog posts) that Pelosi is considering selecting an impeached federal judge to head up such a sensitive committee. Even if she goes with someone other than Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), she will have absorbed the punishment for simply considering the move.
(2) It has unnecessarily ginned up a hot competition among important caucuses on the Democratic side of the House. The Blue Dog Democrats, the Congressional Black Caucus, and to a lesser degree the Hispanic caucus have all seized on the lack of direction from the Speaker-elect to tout their own preferred candidates. The longer the competing parties vie for the chairmanship, the more likely that the losers emerge disgruntled.
(3) By letting this play out in a public and contentious way, Pelosi will look beholden to one interest group or another regardless of whom she picks--unless she goes with a dark horse candidate like Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ). (David Corn
and Joe Conason
have touted Holt in recent days.) Even then, Pelosi will have antagonized not just one key bloc within the Democratic caucus, but several of them.
The only strategy I could imagine Pelosi may be using here is to let the political tempest itself eliminate the competing candidates rather than doing so herself. But I don't really have the sense that this is being managed so shrewdly. Rather, it feels like things are drifting without strong guidance from the top.