From today's NY Times:
The Republicans, selecting their leaders in less dramatic fashion than Democrats
picked theirs on Thursday, chose Mr. Boehner as minority leader over the
conservative Representative Mike Spence of Indiana by a vote of 168 to
27. A single vote was cast for Representative Joe Barton of
Texas. Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri was re-elected party whip by
137 to 57 over Representative John Shadegg of Arizona. (snip)
Cast in the minority role for the first time in 12 years, Republicans may
be taking solace in the battle that played out among House Democrats, who chose
Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland as their new majority leader on
Thursday, rejecting the choice of Ms. Pelosi, and straining the unity of the
new majority party. (emphasis mine). In an indication that
rank-and-file members would be willing to break from Ms. Pelosi, Democrats chose
Mr. Hoyer over Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania by a decisive vote of 149 to 86.
So the Democrats put two candidates out. One wins decisively with 149 votes. The Republicans put two candidates up. The relect an old leadership figure (who helped lead their party to defeat) with 168 votes. The Democratic representatives did what they came to Washington to do: vote their conscience. And the new leader won big. But it's painted as some ugly, bitter affair. Even though by all appearances there was nothing partisan or ugly about it and everyone is simply moving after taking care of this required business.
The Washington Post title? "Democrats Reject Murtha." The Press always pumps the negative about Dems. They then note that this election has exposed "a deep political divide even before the party takes control." Even thought this choice wasn't really about policy or ideology, just about which individual gets to hold the reins of power. And without citing any evidence, it disparages relations between Pelosi and Hoyer.
In a show of unity after the closed-door meeting in a House office building, she
and Hoyer smiled and embraced. But the two longtime rivals must now try to pick
up the pieces after a bitter intraparty fight and prepare for a new Congress in
You know, it was an election campagin that lasted about three friggin' days. Murtha jumped in at the last minute after Hoyer already had the votes. Pelosi stood by her friend, but it didn't change anything (this aint no Tom Delay style leadership, there were no threats to drop the hammer). Nor should it have. And because the Democratic leadership let things play out fairly, they get crucified in the press.
The media loves message control (it boils things down to nice sound bites and talking points they understand). They hate the Democrats for not mandating a single, unified orthodoxy. They hate all the shades of grey, all the different opinions, and all the agendas that a truly representative, federal government brings. Because they are lazy bums who wouldn't know straight-forward and honets reporting if it slapped them in the face. Wankers.
[Update]: Please see the incomparable Mr. Greenwald, laying it out in a far more comprehensive and direct manner than my humble attempt.