07 February 2011

Harman Changes Stations to the Woodrow Wilson Center

Reportedly, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA 36th) will be resigning her Congressional seat to become the head of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.

The nine-term Blue Dog Democrat 65 year old Congresswoman from a safe Southern California coastal district is retiring from Congress in order to replace 79 year old WWCIS President former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN 9th).  Harmon was a high ranking member of the House Home Security Committee and should have been in line to be the Committee Chairperson but then Speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed the ascension.

The Woodrow Wilson Center bills itself as a Presidential memorial that fosters dialogue and scholarship on social science issues. It effectively acts as a governmental think tank with ties to the Smithsonian Institution.  It was established by an Act of Congress in 1968 and was later championed by then Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY).  For years, the WWCIS was housed in the Smithsonian Castle, before a beautiful facility was established in part of the Ronald Reagan building in 1998.

Harman has been a leading and respected centrist voice on Security issues and is a regular guest on Sunday morning talking heads shows.  Hamilton had been indicating his impending retirement since October, 2010.  Even though Rep. Harman is married to Sidney Harman, the wealthy founder of harmon/karden high fidelity, someone who does not live Between the Beltways may wonder why she would go through the toil and trouble of standing for office and only serve for one month, instead of just jockeying for a Presidency of a non-profit where she is a perfect fit.

I suspect that the slaughter of the Blue Dogs in the 2010 elections combined with residual animus that Minority Leader Pelosi has for centrist Democrats in general and Harman in particular, makes remaining in Congress much less appealing.  If there is any consolation Harman will have more of a voice and influence at the Wilson Center than if she remained in Congress under the Minority Leadership of SanFranGranNan. Harman also indirectly helped her Democrat colleagues, as it freed up slots on her committees and Democrats have experienced difficult in adjusting to having fewer seats as the minority party.

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