Is he losing his influence?
Glenn Hurowitz writes that Dingell may finally be losing his influence:
Part of the reason for Dingell’s decreasing power is that he’s become rather unpopular within a Democratic caucus that’s willing to tolerate internal policy differences, but increasingly unwilling to accept his barely veiled attacks on Pelosi and his open war with the environmental movement, which is providing more and more ground troops to Democratic field operations on Election Day.
The guy isn’t built for parliamentary party unity, that’s for sure!
Glenn makes a good case, but I continue to think that the "open war" thing is a bit reductive. Since the Dems won and the leadership started the effort to put energy bills together, Dingell has moved an incredible distance. You can argue that he doesn’t really grasp the generational nature of the problems we face and the historical possibilities now before Congress, but hey, he’s a crusty old dude. He’s moving.
The more important question, obviously, is whether he can lead rather than follow — whether he can push ambitious bills rather than serve as ballast that slows them down. His performance in the development of the recently passed energy bill was not inspiring.
My half-hearted attempts to defend Dingell are wavering, I must admit. If this carbon tax bill he introduces turns out to be a complete dud and sinks without a ripple, well, I suppose that will settle the case of whether he’s purely a cranky obstacle or a potentially powerful ally.
I have a soft spot for curmudgeons. I wish Dingell would see that this is a chance for him to have an incredible historic legacy — to be a hero in his twilight years in Congress. But he needs to get the clue. This ain’t the old days.