Two things to watch for here. First, Pelosi pausing — twice — while praising Murtha for applause that doesn’t come. And second, Murtha’s little verbal slip at the end. You’ll know it when you hear it.

Says the Observer:

Had she simply announced her preference for Murtha and stood on the sidelines, Hoyer’s win would mean nothing.

But by turning up the heat on her fellow Democrats only to lose lopsidedly, Pelosi may have empowered Hoyer, her longtime foe. Should some similar impasse occur in the future – whether over a leadership position or an actual policy item – Hoyer may have considerably more standing in convincing members that it’s okay to stick with him against the Speaker.

One of the posters at Red State mourns Murtha’s loss and the corruption scandals his leadership would have brought. I doubt it would have played out that way. For one thing, no one’s touched him in the 26 years since Abscam; if he’s dirty, he’s good at covering it up. For another thing, any DOJ investigation into corruption would have been parried with accusations that Bush was trying to crush his dissent about the war. Unless they had smoking-gun evidence on him, they probably wouldn’t want to risk the political heat.

Anyway. Byron York asks a question he already knows the answer to: “Does the new Democratic leadership in the House have a clue about what to do in Iraq?” And here’s a question of my own: do they know that Bill Clinton opposes a timetable for withdrawal?

Update: We’re having a little technical difficulty with the video right now. Standby. Should be working in a few minutes. While you wait, pay a visit to Planet Arianna, where this is somehow a victory for Pelosi.

Update: Okay, the clip should be loading now.

Tags: Democrats