Democratic Intraparty Fights

How do you like the New Direction for America? Are your new leaders passing meaningful legislation, showing bold and courageous leadership on the Iraq war they strongly oppose, and running the people's House the way they promised to? Sorry to sound like a House GOP Conference press release, but couldn't these Democratic turf battles have taken place sooner, or been buried better?

In our newspaper yesterday Alexander Bolton reported on the latest squabble between Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairmen of the Financial Services and Energy and Commerce committees respectively. Dingell objected to Frank's idea of a task force that would require sharing the issue of data security between the two committees. Unfortunately, Dingell had previously told the press he had not objected, so the letter he sent Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was leaked and Frank was quoted saying he was surprised to see Dingell's recent comments denying his objections. Dingell may wield tremendous power in the House and many may fear him, but you can take Barney Frank off that list.

It was less than two weeks ago that Dingell shot back publicly and aggressively to another territorial threat, a select committee on energy independence and global warming that Pelosi wants to create. He said it should be called the Committee on World Travel and Junkets. Can anyone recall a member speaking that way on the record about the brand-new idea of a brand-new Speaker?

It did not end there. Last week we ran another story, reported by Jonathan E. Kaplan, about some Energy and Commerce members plotting revenge against Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), whom Pelosi chose to head the select panel, which would not have legislative authority. "Let's get in his grille," Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) reportedly said, adding later that "guys from Boston are soft." Members present spoke about preempting Markey — who sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee WITH them, by the way — and plotted to hold the same hearings the day before he did and travel to Stockholm if Markey traveled to Stockholm. Us taxpayers always like to hear about spending being duplicated on behalf of adolescent games.

It must be hard, after all those years, and particularly after last year, to calm the muscles flexed for battle. But Democrats who got good at fighting Republicans should stop fighting themselves.

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