Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Liberal blogger targeting Blue Dogs

From the Politico:

A leading liberal blogger has declared political war against centrist Democrats – the latest move in an intensifying show of dissatisfaction with the Democratic Congress by the once-friendly blogosphere. Matt Stoller, who blogs at the well-trafficked OpenLeft.com, has compiled a list of 38 House “Blue Dog” Democrats who have voted with Republicans on key legislation, and called on the activist community to put pressure on them – and perhaps challenge them in primaries – if they fail to shape up.

“Some of these members may need to face a primary challenge, and it's useful for potential primary challengers to know that there is criticism of these members,” wrote Stoller, who refers to the 38 Democrats as “Bush Dogs.”

Stoller said he would give the Democratic Congress a near-failing grade so far. He is particularly upset with Democrats who joined Republicans in supporting legislation expanding the administration’s surveillance capabilities and for not pushing hard enough for a time-certain Iraq withdrawal.

“They are going to be very methodical in this first stage,” said Conn Carroll, author of the Hotline’s Blogometer, of the Netroots. “I’d be very surprised if they end up targeting more than two or three people on the list. But just by identifying people, they’re able to move a lot of these Democrats to the left.”

Stoller’s criticism reflects growing dissatisfaction from within the Democratic base with their party’s performance. The latest Gallup poll gives Congress an 18 percent approval rating, matching an all-time low.

And the drop in congressional approval comes almost entirely because of declining support from Democratic voters. Only 21 percent of Democrats approved of Congress’ performance – an 11-point drop in the last month alone.

But the desire to target members who have largely been voting in line with their constituencies puzzles many Democratic operatives.

Many of the targeted Democrats – 15 of the 38 by Politico’s count – will likely be facing highly competitive reelection campaigns. Nearly all of them represent solidly Republican districts that President Bush carried handily in 2004.

“To truly reverse the damage the Bush administration has done will take electing more Democrats, not challenging the ones that have won very tough districts,” said one Democratic strategist. One of Stoller’s potential targets, Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.), has won reelection in a conservative-leaning suburban Chicago district.

The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday that many of her freshman Democratic colleagues are looking to emulate her centrist voting record and close attention to local issues in their reelection bids.

That news angers Stoller, who argues that Bean has betrayed the Democrats who helped elect her in the first place.

“Melissa Bean is a bad legislator, and she does things that keep us in Iraq, destroy the Constitution, and deserves criticism for that. She certainly doesn’t deserve to be emulated,” he said.

First off, just to educate Mr. Stoller, many of the Blue Dogs ran on conservative/moderate platforms. They went to Washington with the mindset that DC was broken, and they could help fix it. A few were against the war, and have openly sided with their Democrat colleagues in calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. But more of them stand firm on the idea that we can't leave Iraq until the job is done, and have sided with GOP members and the president on the issue. To be fair, Mr. Stoller is a one-trick pony; a single issue pundit whose goal is to end the war in Iraq. This is obviously his sticking point.

But if he calls for the challenge, and some are made, I'm afraid he's going to find out that those Democrats aren't going to lose their seats. They are moderate/centrist Democrats that are following, for the most part, the will of their constituents. Maybe Mr. Stoller forgets the fact that Congress has been on break since early August, and many of these people went back to their districts. Those same people are probably reading messages and speaking with people daily telling them not to pull a cut-and-run on Iraq.

This is what happens when the fever-swamp doesn't get it's way. They don't like the fact that these people are doing what they said they'd do, and they're ticked. On our side, we're targeting a few of our own with primary challengers, but unlike the fever swamp, we're doing it for good reason. No matter what those on the GOP side say, Lindsey Graham has got to go. We don't care how stalwart a defender he is of the mission in Iraq. He attacked the base when we raised a stink over the immigration bill. Put up a primary challenger that is just as staunch an advocate for the war, and it's a win-win.

But this mentality that the nutroots can dictate who needs to go and who needs to stay based on one issue alone, especially when the congressman or woman in question is doing what their constituents want, is pure fantasy. If those people did a good job, no liberal challenger is going to beat them. And to Mr. Stoller, they haven't betrayed their "liberal views." More than likely, their liberal views are not the same ones you and you fever swamp minions have.

Publius II


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