Jeff Stein gets the Harman deal he revealed slightly wrong
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.