Congresswoman Jane Harman is a stalwart of the Israel lobby, and Ron Kampeas of JTA is working hard to try to show
that she's been smeared by the CQ report that she
made a deal in 2005 with a "suspected Israeli agent" to try and advance her position in the House. Kampeas's long post seeks to undermine the idea that Harman had anything to get out of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi back in 2005. He ends up questioning the "motive and reliability of the sources peddling [the corrupt deal story]."
Along the way, Kampeas tries to rebut our man Felson's argument on this site
, that Harman had a lot at stake in 2005. Felson responds:
The more I think about Kampeas's latest post,
annoyed I get. Look at what's trying to do; he notes that Jeff Stein, in his
original CQ story, wrote that Harman
wanted the suspected Israeli agent to lobby minority leader Nancy Pelosi "to appoint Harman
chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the
Democrats were heavily favored to win" and then writes:
clearly does not make sense - there's no way that Harman or her alleged
interlocutors, in the summer of 2005, would have been that confident of
a Democratic victory. But it makes Harman looks worse - and that says
something about the motive and reliability of the sources peddling this.
Kampeas is (intentionally, I assume, but maybe not) reading
Stein's sentence way too literally. Yes, he's correct: It's insane to
think that in the summer of 2005, Harman was banking on a Democratic
victory and trying to make sure shed be the chairman of Intel after '06. Stein is wrong on this point.
But this doesn't mean anything. It doesn't take a rocket scientist
to figure out how Stein screwed this up: He's an intelligence expert,
not a master of insider House politics. He understood the basics --
Harman was desperate to stay on the Intel committee -- but he didn't
grasp exactly what the conflict was. I assume he misunderstood his
sources when they tried to explain the complexities of Harman's Intel
Committee situation, which actually had nothing to do with the '06
elections. Whether Democrats won 100 seats or lost 100 seats in '06
wouldn't have affected Harman's situation: She was going to be forced
out as the top Dem of the committee by Pelosi -- unless Pelosi was
pressured to change her mind.
The prospect of a chairmanship had nothing to do with Harman's
thinking; as the ranking member, she got more national TV time than any
other House Democrat when the party was in the minority. That slot was
her meal ticket. She absolutely didn't want to lose it. Which is why
she campaigned to keep it throughout 2005 and 2006. And which is why I
can't understand why anyone could seriously wonder why, at the height
of all of this in 10/05, she'd be excited to learn that, if she
scratched his back a little, an "Israeli agent" would then scratch hers
-- by going to Pelosi on her behalf. This is elementary stuff. This is
how ANY lobby works in Washington. Why would the Israel lobby be any different?