Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Is Charles Foster Bass a Leader in Washington?

I spend a fair amount of time talking about Charlie Bass's record on particular issues - the environment, social security, the minimum wage - but tonight I want to step back a little bit and look at what you might call his effectiveness. The bulk of his job is to vote on other people's bills, of course, but does he ever lead, and if so, how effectively?

One measure of this is what committees he serves on in Congress, and whether he has any kind of leadership role. And the answer is, he's on the committee on energy and commerce, and he does not chair any of its subcommittees. This is not a matter of lack of seniority: Many chairships are held by people with the same or fewer years in office. For instance, on the committee on energy and commerce, Kentucky's Rep. Ed Whitfield, who was elected in 1994 just like Charlie, chairs the subcommittee on oversight and investigations. On the judiciary committee, Rep. John Hostettler, of Indiana, was elected in 1994 just like Charlie and chairs the subcommittee on immigration, border security, and claims; Rep. Chris Cannon, of Utah, was elected in 1996 and chairs the subcommittee on commercial and administrative law.

And so on. Charlie Bass isn't the chair of a subcommittee not because he hasn't been in Congress long enough. He isn't the chair of a subcommittee because he's not a leader. He can do some little useful things, like get an in-state tv station to satellite subscribers in the North Country, or get a little money thrown the way of New Hampshire defense contractors rather than defense contractors somewhere else. But that's the extent of it.

New Hampshire deserves better. New Hampshire deserves a leader.


Blogger IndyNH said...


People are going to read this blog from me and think that I am a Bass supporter, but I am really not. Go read all my critical posts about Bass on this and other connected boards.

My main concern is that we not use issues that don’t help us – or worse yet, help him – in November.

If I were a Bass campaign person and the issue of his not having a chairmanship came up in a debate I would flip that argument and say that it just proves he is too independent for the Congressional Republican Leadership to tolerate and that his support for stem cells, the Arctic Refuge, renewable energy, earmark reform, campaign finance reform, and on and on made him persona non grata within the power structure. I’d also ask if you thought the chairmen you mentioned were leaders and people you supported (I don’t know any of them at all or their records, but I can only guess that they are much more right-wing than Bass).

Our attacks on Bass need to be specific about his votes, his statements, and his bills . I just don’t think we are able to make the case that he votes the same as the rest of the GOP or that his not being a chairman means he is ineffective. Hodes wouldn’t be a chairman either for many years, even if we won back control of the Congress. We don’t want to get into a seniority driven fight with Bass and his 6 terms or into a fight that we’d cozy up with our own Leadership so much that we’d get to be a Chairman that soon. If elected, Hodes will need to walk the same independent walk with Pelosi and the national Democrats that Bass walks with Hastert and the national Republicans. Just ask Dick Swett about voting with Tom Foley too often.

Maybe you think I am crazy and I am sure you’ll tell me if you do. But I think the normal campaign against Bass is not going to work. He has been too smart picking issues to split with the party on and we all know he has the smile and be friendly routine down too well to fall prey to tactics that might work for other Democrats running the same campaign across the country this year.

Just my 2 cents. Flame away…

11:46 AM  
Blogger yankeedoodler said...

Six terms and no chairmanships?

What's he been doing for twelve years?

Casting a very occasional and unsuccessful vote around election time against the radical extremists who control his party doesn't make someone an independent.

Is this why he's breaking his Contract with America and trying for a seventh term? Hoping the inertia of two more years will do the job?

12:31 PM  
Blogger terrynbill said...

Do I really care if Charlie Bass is a chairman of some corrupt republican committee? No I don't. I am glad he isn't to be honest.

I'd rather he switched parties and voted for the Democrats to take control of the House. Then he could be a chairman, fine with me.

6:43 PM  
Blogger plymouthdemocrat24 said...

i worked in the House of Representatives for the past two years, which means that my eyes were permanently glued to c-span. i also spent the first 18 years of my life in the fabulous town of plymouth, new hampshire with the one and only chaz bass as my representative. and here's what i have noticed about chaz. he voted for an energy bill that did nothing to lower gas prices and did everything to give money to big oil. he voted for cafta -- horrible for american workers, horrible for the environment. and he not only voted for, but "helped pass" the prescription drug bill that was mired in corruption and has done nothing to help seniors in new hampshire -- in fact, every time i go home, i hear from seniors who are confused and frusterated by the plan.

so indynh, please pass the word along to chaz that those are the votes and the issues that my family cares about. and those are the votes they'll be thinking about when they choose paul hodes in november.

11:28 AM  

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