A win for seniority, or a blown opportunity? House Democrats elected Jerrold Nadler to fill the ranking-member post on the Judiciary committee vacated by John Conyers, who resigned after numerous allegations of sexual harassment emerged. In doing so, they passed over Zoe Lofgren, who had provided them an opportunity to make a statement about reform:
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday won the top Democratic spot on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, beating back a challenge from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) to fill the seat held by former Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) for almost a quarter century.
The House Democratic Caucus voted 118 to 72 in favor of Nadler, a 13-term Manhattanite known for his constitutional expertise.
The vote marks a victory for the seniority system that could have outsized implications if the Democrats win back the House in 2018 and the investigations into Russia’s election meddling turn up any damning evidence against the Trump administration.
As I wrote yesterday, that’s an exceedingly big if. Even if that’s the case, The Hill points out that Lofgren wouldn’t have been a lightweight in that regard either:
Lofgren, a 12-term liberal representing the San Francisco Bay Area, also has some experience with the impeachment process, having participated in both the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton proceedings. She was a Judiciary staffer at the time of the Nixon hearings and a sitting member during the Clinton proceedings. But Lofgren had downplayed Trump’s potential impeachment as too uncertain and premature to dictate the race for Judiciary ranking member.
Well, that’s because it is. At present, there is no evidence that has emerged of collusion between Trump and Russia to swing the election, despite lots of commentary and bad media coverage on the scandal — after almost a year of investigations into those allegations. On top of that, Democrats will still have to pick up two dozen seats in the next election, a task that might be made harder by their almost singular focus on Russia rather than deal with the real issues that have turned them into a minority party at every level of government in the US. Republicans will no doubt focus on Nadler’s selection as yet another demonstration of the Democrats’ Trump Derangement Syndrome.
Perhaps by 2019, Nadler might be able to put his talents to work in an impeachment effort. Lofgren, however, could have helped repair some of the damage done by Conyers’ sexual harassment and corruption scandal immediately, while losing very little on the speculative impeachment front. Rather than elevate Lofgren to deal with what will likely be a larger scandal involving more Democrats and Republicans as previously secret settlements become public, Democrats have shrugged it off. The fact that they’re passing this off as a seniority decision only emphasizes the establishmentarianism that allowed Conyers to spend decades without any accountability for his misbehavior.
Remember when those scandals were so important that Democrats forced Al Franken to resign his Senate seat? Good times, good times. House Democrats blew a slam-dunk here.