Jeff Stein gets the Harman deal he revealed slightly wrong

Today Jeff Stein of CQ had an online chat over his revelation that Rep. Jane Harman was caught on tape making a deal with a suspected agent of Israel for her own advancement in the House, back in 2005. Felson's analysis:

I will say that he did himself no favors
with the way he tried to frame the quid pro quo — and thus opened the
door to Kampeas and others making their claims
.  From the CQ chat:

 
Dane from Chicago: You report that the wiretapping
took place "5 months after May, 2005", and imply that this was a time
when the "Democrats were heavily favored to win." But this was a full
year before the elections. Use of the phrase "heavily favored to win"
strengthens the argument for a quid pro quo, but is simply not true.
Why did you use this phrase?

Jeff Stein: Well, it's was my judgment that the
Democrats were heavily favored to win even then.  But if you have polls
from then that contradict my judgment, I'll accept that.

Stein's mistake here is connecting Harman's motive with the '06
election. The '06 elections really had nothing to do with why she
needed help in 10/05. The issue was simple: Pelosi had already made it
clear that she was going to take Harman's slot as the top Intel
Democrat away in the next Congress, and Harman had already begun a
campaign to pressure Pelosi to change her mind. All of this is
documented in the pre-10/05 clips I sent you. Whether the Dems ended up
winning or losing in '06 had nothing to do with any of this. Stein is
wrong to suggest that Harman was motivated by the strong likelihood
that her party would win the majority in '06; and critics are correct
when they point out that, as of 10/05, it was hardly a lock that Dems
would even do such a thing.

But this mix-up in no way weakens Stein's main
argument that there was a quid pro quo. He just gets the deal slightly
wrong. Harman wanted to remain the top Dem on the committee (on Intel,
the ranking member is essentially treated like a co-chairman) and was
intensely fighting to do so throughout 2005. It makes perfect sense
that, in 10/05, she'd have been very excited to learn that a major
"pro-Israel" voice would be willing to go to Pelosi on her behalf. This
was, after all, a behind-the-scenes tug-of-war between Pelosi and
Harman. The '06 elections themselves were immaterial. Stein's confusion
is understandable; he doesn't cover internal House and congressional
politics that closely; his speciality is the intelligence community.
His overall point is completely valid, though. And efforts to discredit
it based on his misunderstanding of exactly why Harman needed help
lobbying Pelosi are completely laughable.
Posted in Beyondoweiss, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East

{ 4 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. D. says:

    I think Felson has settled this particular aspect of the story. But is it even necessary to ask what Harman might have been asking for in return? Perhaps Jewishness to her meant that supporting Israel was reward enough in itself. She has a long public record; has she ever once stood up to an AIPAC position? This might give us a hint.

  2. Citizen says:

    NO. Yes, a big hint. Bottom line is insiders pressuring to get rid of the AIPAC PR disaster.

  3. Joel Bitar says:

    I agree with both Phil and D. She either did this favor for the Israel agent pro bono (because she is truly loyal to Israel/she owed AIPAC) or she wanted AIPAC to lobby Pelosi to make sure she kept her position in the House Intelligence Committee. Stein is wrong that she was worried about keeping the Democrat majority a year early. In his interview with Glenn Greenwald (link to salon.com – audio at bottom of page), Stein notes that his sources say nothing about partisanship. This wasn't a democrat vs. republican issue for Harman.

  4. Citizen says:

    RE: "She either did this favor for the Israel agent pro bono (because she is truly loyal to Israel/she owed AIPAC) or she wanted AIPAC to lobby Pelosi to make sure she kept her position in the House Intelligence Committee. "

    Please. It's not either/or. It's both. She's typical to the extreme.

    Wake up to reality. The result is that the American people as a whole are never represented in these commonplace dealings. All politicians speak in their name, few have ever walked that walk
    because all politicians know the average American is a lobby of one; he is Everyman, therefore Noman. Nothing new. The best reason to always follow the money, considering our campaign laws, and to look closely at the background of everyone pretending to speak in the name of "the
    American people."