Realpolitik Reigns as Congresswoman Jane Harman Rallies Democrats in Santa Monica

Yesterday evening, my Congresswoman, Democrat Jane Harman of California’s 36th District, showed up in  Santa Monica for an event at the new West L.A. Democratic Club headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard. I’m pretty sure this is the first time that I have ever met my Congressional representative face to face. Harman, whose district extends from Venice down through the South Bay communities to the Port of Los Angeles, officially came to kick off her 2008 re-election campaign.  Her most important message, however, was that area Democrats need to gird themselves for a very close, very tough national election, and they need to do everything they can to elect Barack Obama President, with a larger Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.

The diminutive Harman, while friendly and personable, is a firebrand.  Harman earned a reputation for toughness during eight years on the House Intelligence Committee, including four years as Ranking Member.  Her toughness came through as she spoke to the standing-room only crowd of volunteers, staffers, and Democratic party activists. 

In particular, Harman’s no-nonsense style of politics left no room for the theoretical.  As for local issues, she is a staunch environmental advocate.  After an enthusiastic introduction by ubiquitous City Council Member Bill Rosendahl, Harman stepped to the unmiked podium and cited her fight against excessive noise and pollution at the Santa Monica Airport, as well as her opposition to the expansion of LAX.  Harman stated emphatically that she opposes increased offshore oil drilling, and would only support an energy bill containing more drilling provisions if such provisions were “nothing” compared to an overall bill that included comprehensive renewable energy provisions. She cited her opposition to the proposed Woodside liquified natural gas terminal off the coast of LAX, which she claimed would be a prime terrorist target.  Harman also mentioned her support for “Justice for Janitors,” and several SEIU members wearing purple SEIU t-shirts were on hand to thank her for her assistance in negotiating better contracts for janitors at Northrop Grumman and other aerospace companies with offices in and near the 36th district.

Likewise, when asked what she thought about Sarah Palin’s recent speech before the Republican National Convention, Harman did not dwell on theoretical policy disagreements with Palin.  Instead, she said that Palin is an effective, dynamic messenger for her party, and a game-changer for the election.  Harman stated that Joe Biden will have to think carefully about how to deal with Palin during their debate next month.  She also said that the Presidential election is going to be “very close,” and that the campaigning will get “raw” and “ugly.”  To help the party in these battles, Harman presented the West L.A. Democratic Club with a personal check for $5,000.

Shortly thereafter, I buttonholed the Congresswoman to ask her what she thought about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 2006 campaign promise that impeachment of George Bush would be “off the table” in a new Democratic Congress.  Instead of saying that the Constitution specifically calls for impeachment, Harman went with the practical, telling me that Pelosi felt the Republicans had suffered politically when they impeached President Bill Clinton, and Pelosi did not want to make a similar mistake.

Then Harman turned to the nearby television set to watch John McCain deliver his Republican Convention speech.  According to Harman, “we need to understand the enemy.”

Know thine enemy
Know thine enemy

11 thoughts on “Realpolitik Reigns as Congresswoman Jane Harman Rallies Democrats in Santa Monica”

  1. This is total sarcasm, but how hard is it to rally democrats in a democrat stronghold? Wouldn’t energy be spent in areas that are strongly republican or undecided to sway the voters that don’t see Obama as a viable president?

    The part that really bothers me about this is “we need to understand the enemy.” as since when is it OK to refer to another citizen in that manner for simply following what they believe.

    I really want to crawl under a rock for this election as both of the dominate parties are doing nothing but further divide this country rather than unify. Until everyone is on the same page and done pissing the extremes off nothing positive is going to happen or change.

  2. Frazgo, I knew you’d comment, but I didn’t know it would be so quickly. As for where Harman speaks, she does so in many areas. She lives a couple of miles away in Venice, so I don’t think it’s unproductive or unusual to come to this new field office to speak. Also, part of her message was that local supporters need to go outside of the Democratic strongholds, both in California and in neighboring battleground states such as Nevada, to try to drum up Democratic votes. I think she mentioned your neighborhood in particular, LOL.

    As far as using the term “enemy” instead of “opponent,” I don’t think that was particularly bellicose or inappropriate given that she was speaking to her supporters. Did you watch Fred Thompson, Rudolph Giuliani, or Sarah Palin at the Republican Convention? Harman clearly views politics as a tough contact sport. She also said about the remainder of the Congressional session this year, “we’re gonna throw tomatoes at each other for three weeks and then leave.” But I don’t think anyone believes she confuses political “enemies” or “throwing tomatoes” with our real terrorist enemies. Some people think that Harman quite a conservative when it comes to combatting terrorism.

    Also, I think you protest too much. Harman’s rhetoric to her supporters pales in comparison to the language Republicans have used against Barack Obama not just to their supporters, but spread out over the media (he’s a Muslim, he’ll take the oath of office on the Koran, he wants to lose the war in Iraq, terrorist fist bump, Nazi appeaser, etc.) McCain has hired the very proteges of Karl Rove who similarly slimed McCain during the 2000 primary (black baby, etc.) to do more of the same to Obama.

    Like you, however, I’d love to see the country unify, be on the same page, and stop pissing off extremes. We can only hope.

  3. Now Matt you happened to catch me when I signed on for my quick run down of morning blogs. And who was protesting? I was making a sarcastic comment that time and energy would be better put into the traditional gop and swing states than here in CA where they have the election and Electoral votes wrapped up.

    See ya’ll on the blog next week if I have time.

  4. What a f’ing pig she is. Sixteen billion dollar deficit, no state budget and she has the nerve to ask anyone to vote for her again.

    Actually, they’re all f’ing pigs and should be ashamed what they’ve done to our state.

  5. Umm, bromike666, hate to tell you, but Jane Harman is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In Washington. Your state budget is written in Sacramento, our state’s capital, by the state representatives you vote for in our state’s elections.

  6. Likewise, when asked what she thought about Sarah Palin’s recent speech before the Republican National Convention, Harman did not dwell on theoretical policy disagreements with Palin. Instead, she said that Palin is an effective, dynamic messenger for her party, and a game-changer for the election.

    How refreshing to see at least one female Democrat (other than Ferraro) who’s willing to recognize Palin’s achievement without resorting to gutter politics.

    Credit due.

  7. Frazgo, I think you’ll like my next post better. It’s car-related!

    UglyAmerican, I found it a bit off-putting that Harman seems to elevate style to the same level as substance. But I guess she’s focused on the election races above all else right now. However, I don’t think she would agree with you about Ferarro, since Harman is a big Obama supporter and Ferarro, before she had to resign from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, said that “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position.” If that isn’t gutter politics, I don’t know what is.

    But as we see here, all politics isn’t just local, it’s personal.

  8. dude…don’t even worry about what I like or dislike. I never said I disliked the post, just thought energies for Harman could have been better spend elsewhere.

  9. Sounds like Harman is a no nonsense public servant deserving reelection. Wish we had one here; our guy Wexler doesn’t even have a residence in his district (he fraudulently claimed to live with his in-laws at a senior community). And, he’s the one who used “Nazi sympathizer” against Palin, when he (mistakenly) said she supported Pat Buchanan in a previous election. I’ll trade for Harman any time.

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