Pelosi, in particular, looks bad. Here she's been yammering about the most ethical Congress ever as she champions the ethically challenged Murtha over Steny Hoyer, who had the gall to run against her for a leadership position.
At one time they were friends, but their ambitions eventually put them on a collision course. Pelosi nominated Hoyer in a 1991 House leadership race and was one of his lieutenants. But in 2001, the two ran against each other in a protracted and nasty race for minority whip. Pelosi won handily, but her allies charge that Hoyer never stopped running for the next prize and along the way tried to undercut her authority. Hoyer has said he has never been anything but supportive of Pelosi.
For the most part, lawmakers, Hill aides and some outside advisers -- even some close to her -- say they are at a loss to explain why Pelosi has held a grudge for so long, because she clearly has the upper hand as leader of the House Democrats. They suggest that part of what rankles her is that Hoyer is not beholden to her and feels no compulsion to publicly agree with her on every issue. This, allies say, she sees as a sign of disloyalty. With the number of declared votes still heavily favoring Hoyer, Murtha's supporters were hoping a plea to unify behind Pelosi would secure an upset today.
It is not clear that the pitch is working. "I'm a DA," said Hoyer supporter Michael Arcuri (D), the Oneida County district attorney just elected to represent his Upstate New York district. "I'm used to pressure."
And this isn't the only rift among the Democrats: James Carville is going after Howard Dean.