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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to begin hearings the week of December 4 on the nomination of Bob Gates for secretary of defense.

One reason the President may be trying to get the Gates nomination through the lame-duck Republican Senate before Democrats take control of the Senate in January is old animosity between Gates and Senator-elect Jim Webb (D-VA), according to Bob Novak:

During President Ronald Reagan's second term, Gates and Webb clashed as colleagues. Webb as secretary of the Navy objected to plans by Gates, then deputy national security adviser, for U.S. warships to protect oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. The hot-tempered Webb made clear his irritation with the soft-spoken Gates.


Whatever. In Novak's world, all politics is petty paybacks and trifling personal slights.

What I don't completely understand, quite frankly, is why Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), incoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and other Senate Democrats are not demanding full hearings on the Gates nomination after the first of the year. No one is eager for Rumsfeld to hold the post for a minute longer than necessary, but what better way for Democrats to begin to exert control over Iraq policy.

You want to do oversight on Iraq? Start there.

Not to quibble, but this sentence from The Hill piece on Trent Lott's bid for minority whip seems a bit off:

Lott was forced to step down as Senate majority leader in 2002 after comments he made at former Sen. Strom Thurmond’s (R-S.C.) birthday party touched off a racially charged controversy and the White House threw its backing to now-Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).
That makes it sound like a bunch of folks were just whipping up trouble instead of Lott planting his foot squarely in the doo-doo. Wasn't it the comments that were "racially charged," as opposed to the controversy?

He's baaack.

Trent Lott is making a bid for Senate minority whip, according to The Hill.

I don't know about you, but that makes me nostalgic for those halcyon days of 1948.

With a final dyspeptic, pox-on-all-your-houses column, John Tierney leaves the NYT op-ed page and retreats to the safety of the laboratory.

This is pretty funny. Remember how Texas Gov. Rick Perry hired lobbyists connected to then-Rep. Tom Delay to promote the state of Texas in Washington and how those lobbyists later made tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to various Republican committees?

The Austin newspaper has an editorial today pointing out that Texas is still paying $15,000 a month to those GOP lobbyists--even though Congress will be controlled by Democrats:

Using taxpayer money to pay private, partisan lobbyists was a dubious strategy to begin with. Now that the worm has turned in Washington, Perry's decision could be disastrous for Texas. These lobby firms ignored Democrats all year — and worse, worked to defeat them — and the Democrats won't forget it.


Even the mistakes are bigger in Texas.

In the Washington-08, Democrat Darcy Burner trails Republican incumbent Dave Reichert by 3,518 votes, with as many as 20,000 absentee ballots still to count.

We've heard a lot about the kind of oversight priorities that committee Chairmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI) will have on the House side. We've heard on the Senate side, for example, about the plans that Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has for oversight from the Intelligence Committee.

But has anyone heard anything from Joe Lieberman ("ID"-CT) about his oversight plans as chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee?

With a huge portfolio, Lieberman's committee is positioned to investigate a vast swath of the federal government. But Lieberman's plans remain remarkably vague. For instance, a UPI story today describes at length the oversight plans being made by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who will become chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, but it devotes just one paragraph to Lieberman, confirming that he will serve as committee chairman.

So what does Joe have in store for the Bush Administration that so aggressively backed his re-election?

Less than a week after the election and two months before the Democrats actually take control of Congress, CNN has pegged the leadership races as "Democrats Divided."

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