08/06/2007 02:46 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Jackie Please Don't Do It Again

Challenging Congressman Tom Lantos is the wrong thing to do

Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle recorded the proposed "shoot out" by former state Senator Jackie Speier. Not only is this an inappropriate use of words, the whole shebang is a disaster on wheels. Again, the highly regarded former state Senator is flying around looking for a landing spot, regardless of its impact or potential damage to the Democratic House leadership or one of the country's great spokespeople on human rights. Didn't she learn the tough lesson this last year when she went head-to-head in the race for Lt. Governor and lost -- bloodied and costing thousands of dollars from her affluent donor base in Hillsborough. Perhaps if things had been different - the State Insurance Commissioner would still be held by Jackie Speier; rather than yet another ambitious, moderate Republican politician hungry to run for Governor in the years to come.

Jackie, Jackie ... what are you thinking? This would be a pyrrhic victory, if won.

Congressman Tom Lantos is a 13-term Congressman, the ranking Democrat and Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee in the House, and one of the world's leaders in the fight for global human rights. Yes, he is difficult, outspoken and tenacious - and yes he is an older man. Still, he has done well for his constituents, the American people and the Congress. This is not offensive to the Jewish lobbyists, but rather to humankind. Should we just retire our elder statesman, put them out to pasture, or chew them up in a contentious primary battle? Isn't there a better use of donor money?

Jackie, you are an extraordinary politician with a long and fruitful career. You are an amazing role model for women throughout the country. Please don't alienate those that want to support you, your work and the future.

Remarkably, this is a lot of what is wrong with the Democrats. It's long overdue that we unify our power base and protect our own. Lantos is a very important voice fighting for humankind throughout the world. He does the tough work, fights many of the battles, and is deeply respected by human rights activists, including Bono.

When are we going to learn? We need a new strategy that empowers our politicians, nourishes and sustains them for the long term. We need to harbor our resources for the right battles.