Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Political Maneuvering on Capitol Hill

The biggest fight playing out inside-the-beltway this week is Rep. Henry Waxman's in your face challnge to Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) for the Chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Dingell is 81 and has been the Committee's top Democrat for 25 years who, hailing from Michigan draws his power from the once-influential, now-embattled automobile industry; Waxman is combative, liberal who carries a green energy in his pocket that flies in the face of Dingell's hesitation to do anything that could run counter to the interests of the auto industry.

"Waxman, on the other hand, is a partisan pit-bull. The very definition of a Hollywood liberal (that is his district, after all), he has used the committee to pursue investigation after investigation of the Bush administration, threatening countless officials with subpoenas and/or contempt of Congress. He launched the much-covered, much-criticized investigation of steroids in baseball. Waxman has pushed the very kind of environmental regulations Dingell has opposed, regulations that could further hurt the bottom lines of the American auto industry at a time when its very future is in question. And don't even think of using the word "tobacco" around Chairman Waxman, not even if you happen to be president-elect."

Jay Newton-Small notes in the Swampland blog at Time.com, that Obama's incoming Congeressional liaison is Phil Schiliro-- Waxman's former Chief of Staff. Read into that what you will.

Also, writing in Politico today, Patcik O'Conner makes a compelling case for why Waxman's history of spreading cash around to fellow Democrats could carry the day.

Reading the tea leaves, it's difficult to imagine how Waxman doesn't prevail and give the Obama Administration's ambitious alternative energy agenda a friendly ear on Capitol Hill.