It has been accomplished. In a secret 137 to 122 vote, Rep. Henry Waxman unseated fellow Democratic lawmaker John Dingell for the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This is a big-ish deal, because:
House Energy and Commerce will play a huge role in pushing through the kind of "green" initiatives President-Elect Obama keeps yapping about. Waxman is from California, and represents that state's forward-looking views on environmentalism and industry. Detroit's Dingell, on the other hand, has long worked to insulate the U.S. auto manufacturers from the realities of the global market. Plus he's really, really old — 82, to be exact. At 69, Waxman is a comparative whippersnapper.
I'm thinking the "optics" (bah, I used that word!) of the Big Three auto chieftains flying into D.C. on separate private jets to beg for a handout didn't work in Dingell's favor.
But there were other factors at play. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi is a Waxman pal, and she likely helped create the conditions for his semi-hostile takeover of E&C. Pelosi-Reid-Waxman make a potent triumvirate, and concentrate Democratic power in the the increasingly progressive West.
This must really be something to those old Reagan dogs who once lapped at the fountain of Hollywood entitlement. And let's not forget that Nixon, too, made his political bones in California. Yet somewhere along the line, the GOP decided that the "Southern Strategy" of cultural warfare, disenfranchisement of minorities and the demonization of coastal elites was the path to a permanent Republican majority.
As that playground culture warrior Nelson Muntz might say, "ha-ha!"