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

Hoyer prevails, 149-86 . . .

It's done.

Steny Hoyer (D-MD) will be the new House majority leader, holding off an upset bid by John Murtha (D-PA), who had the backing of Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi.

The final tally was not far off from predictions. Hoyer had long been the favorite. Until Pelosi's active involvement on behalf of Murtha this week, there wasn't much doubt about the outcome. But Pelosi's last-minute aggressive advocacy for Murtha did throw the race into turmoil.

More here.

A lot of reporting is being devoted to trying to figure out what the U.S. strategy in Iraq will be going forward. We discussed at length yesterday the report in The Guardian about the President's "last big push."

In an op-ed today in the LA Times, Laura Rozen outlines an internal Administration debate over whether U.S. policy in Iraq should tilt in favor of the Shiite majority:

A U.S. tilt toward the Shiites is a risky strategy, one that could further alienate Iraq's Sunni neighbors and that could backfire by driving its Sunni population into common cause with foreign jihadists and Al Qaeda cells. But elements of the administration, including some members of the intelligence community, believe that such a tilt could lead to stability more quickly than the current policy of trying to police the ongoing sectarian conflict evenhandedly, with little success and at great cost.

. . .

To do so would be a reversal of Washington's strategy over the last two years of trying to coax the Sunnis into the political process, an effort led by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. It also would discount some U.S. military commanders' concerns that the Al Mahdi army, a Shiite militia loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada Sadr, poses as great a threat to American interests as that presented by the Sunni insurgency centered in western Iraq's Al Anbar province.

So what's the logic behind the idea of "unleashing the Shiites"? It's the path of least resistance, according to its supporters, and it could help accelerate one side actually winning Iraq's sectarian conflict, thereby shortening the conflict, while reducing some of the critical security concerns driving Shiites to mobilize their own militias in the first place.

Laura has more at her blog.

There are other policy options on the table, but so far "the last big push" and "the tilt" are the two we've seen most publicly articulated.

Are the lame names for these strategies indicative of how poor the policy options are?

Karl Rove is still wondering what happened to his votes, according to this account from incoming freshman Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN):

On Monday, he attended a new-members reception at the White House, where he met President Bush and political adviser Karl Rove, who was convinced Walz would lose. "He said, 'we had the numbers on you, we thought we had enough, but where did you find the voters?'" Walz said.

(h/t A Bluestem Prairie)

Big news out of Georgia, where both Democratic congressmen in tight races have now prevailed (pending any recount challenges).

That also makes it official: The GOP did not pick up a single governorship or House or Senate seat in the midterms.

Dems unanimously nominate Nancy Pelosi for Speaker, according to Roll Call.

Update: Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) was unanimously elected Democratic Caucus chair, Roll Call reports.

Late update: Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) also a unanimous choice, for Majority Whip, according to Roll Call.

Now comes the contested race between Murtha and Hoyer. Stay tuned.

Let's lighten the mood this morning. We should know soon whether Jack Murtha or Steny Hoyer is the next majority leader, but let's not forget how far we've come just to get to this point. Check out this reminder.

Here's really the key part of The Guardian story:

"You've got to remember, whatever the Democrats say, it's Bush still calling the shots. He believes it's a matter of political will. That's what [Henry] Kissinger told him. And he's going to stick with it," a former senior administration official said. "He [Bush] is in a state of denial about Iraq. Nobody else is any more. But he is. But he knows he's got less than a year, maybe six months, to make it work. If it fails, I expect the withdrawal process to begin next fall."

The "last push" strategy is also intended to give Mr Bush and the Republicans "political time and space" to recover from their election drubbing and prepare for the 2008 presidential campaign, the official said. "The Iraq Study Group buys time for the president to have one last go. If the Democrats are smart, they'll play along, and I think they will. But forget about bipartisanship. It's all about who's going to be in best shape to win the White House.

The official added: "Bush has said 'no' to withdrawal, so what else do you have? The Baker report will be a set of ideas, more realistic than in the past, that can be used as political tools. What they're going to say is: lower the goals, forget about the democracy crap, put more resources in, do it."

The President is still in denial, with Kissinger whispering in his ear. Are we really going through this again, three decades later?

Here are the four points of the President's "victory strategy," according to The Guardian:

· Increase US troop levels by up to 20,000 to secure Baghdad and allow redeployments elsewhere in Iraq

· Focus on regional cooperation with international conference and/or direct diplomatic involvement of countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

· Revive reconciliation process between Sunni, Shia and others

· Increased resources from Congress to fund training and equipment of Iraqi security forces

You might call it a four-word strategy: More of the same.