Our Next Intelligence Committee Chairman?

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Ruth Marcus has an excellent column in the Washington Post on Nancy Pelosi's apparent determination to make Alcee Hastings chairman of the Intelligence Committee if Democrats win a majority in the House. Hastings, as you surely know by now, was the federal judge who was impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate and removed from office for bribery. The House and Senate at that time had Democratic majorities; one of the managers of the impeachment in the Senate was, as I recall, John Conyers, now in line to be chairman of the Judiciary Committee in a Democratic House. Marcus covered the Hastings impeachment and Senate trial and so knows more about the case than most of us. Read her concluding paragraphs:

The evidence against Hastings is circumstantial, but it's too much to explain away: a suspicious pattern of telephone calls between Hastings and [Washington attorney William] Borders at key moments in the case; Borders's apparent insider knowledge of developments in the criminal case; Hastings's appearance at a Miami hotel, as promised by Borders as a signal that the judge had agreed to the payoff; a cryptic telephone conversation between the two men that appears to be a coded discussion of the bribe arrangement.

Consider: Hastings, a federal judge, gets word from Borders's lawyer that Borders has been arrested for conspiring to bribe him and that the FBI wants to interview him. Instead of calling the FBI agents whose names and numbers he's been given, Hastings leaves his hotel without checking out and heads to the airport outside Baltimore instead of National, where there's an earlier flight. At BWI, Hastings calls his girlfriend, has her call him back at a different pay phone, then asks her to leave the house to call him from a pay phone, then calls her back from a different pay phone. He doesn't speak to the FBI until they track him down at the girlfriend's house later that night.

Speaker-in-waiting Pelosi: This is not the behavior of an innocent man – or of an intelligence committee chairman.

Democratic Candidates Respond to John Kerry's Dissing the Military

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." Thus spoke John Kerry at Pasadena City College in an appearance for gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides October 30. Kerry's adamant and bizarre refusal to apologize for this disparagement of our military has presented Democratic candidates with a problem. I know Charles Schumer and Rahm Emanuel, and I think they must be furious with Kerry.

The political marketplace works in different ways. Kerry has now canceled an appearance for Democrat Tim Walz in Minnesota 1, and Democrat Bruce Braley has condemned his comments and gotten him to cancel an appearance in Iowa 1. In 2004, George W. Bush carried Minnesota 1 and John Kerry carried Iowa 1. Tennessee Senate candidate Harold Ford issued a statement saying, "Whatever the intent, Senator Kerry was wrong to say what he did. He needs to apologize to our troops." Montana Senate candidate Jon Tester was even more blunt: "Senator Kerry's remarks were poorly worded and just plain stupid. He owes our troops and their families an apology." Bush carried both states in 2004.

In Pennsylvania, which Kerry carried, Senate candidate Bob Casey Jr. has issued a statement in line with the Kerry talking points.

"From what I can gather, Kerry botched a joke. That's what he said, and I take him at his word. He served in combat. Last time I checked, the president and the vice president did not. The White House and the Rick Santorum forces should get to work on dealing with the real problems in Iraq. The first thing they should do is fire Mr. Rumsfeld instead of spending a lot of time trashing Democrats." Kerry is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser for Casey this evening in Philadelphia. It will be interesting to see whether he's cordoned off from the press and whether Pennsylvania reporters press Casey on his defense of the indefensible.

Will Santorum go up with an ad on this issue? Nothing else seems to have worked for him in this cycle.

My Other Pieces

Here is a link to my article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal on the effects of opposition victories in the sixth year of presidents' terms, and here is a link to my Creators Syndicate column this week on possible problems with the polls.