What are these people thinking?
With MSNBC host Rachel Maddow beating the drum for them, self-styled "progressives" have launched a campaign to beat up on moderate Democrats, newly dubbed "Conservadems." The main targets appear to be Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh -- who just last year was among Barack Obama's final three picks for VP -- and the 15 Democratic Senators Bayh has pulled together in a new centrist caucus. Also in their sights are the 49 House Democrats who make up the Blue Dog Coalition .
The "Dog the (Blue) Dogs" campaign is spearheaded by The Campaign for America’s Future, which bills itself as "the strategy center for the progressive movement" and USAction, a union-supported outfit that claims to build grassroots campaigns. Naturally, left-leaning blogs like firedoglake, digby and Crooks and Liars -- who have a penchant for forming circular firing squads -- are taking up the new cause with a vengeance.
These "progressives" are not content to take these moderate Democrats to task on the merits of their positions, which generally lean toward prudence in taxation and fiscal policy. They prefer to try to delegitimize them as Democrats with the label "Conservadems," lump them together with the most right-wing Republicans, and revile them for the crime of reflecting the moderate voters in their states -- states like Indiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia that provided the swing votes to elect a Democratic President and return big Democratic majorities to Congress last November.
One blogger calls them "right-leaning conservative Democrats," no less (shades of Senator Bilbo!), and has this to say:
Bayh's bloc's agenda is to eviscerate Obama's agenda in order to prevent healthcare reform and climate change policies. The Democrats willing to admit to being part of this new anti-Obama bloc are all the usual suspects, the conservatives with shit voting records who seem always eager to show the folks back home how much they detest working families and how dependable they are when it comes to denying the aspirations of ordinary Americans.
These juvenile taunts about being right-wingers out to obstruct Obama's wise plans don't hold up under scrutiny. If you look at a few relevant facts, they turn out to be pure rubbish.
Every year, that granddaddy of liberal groups, Americans for Democratic Action, puts out scores to indicate how liberal or conservative every member of Congress is, based on their voting records. ADA uses votes on 20 actions dealing with a wide range of issues. A perfect liberal score is 100%.
For the 2008 session, the average score for Senate Democrats was 90% (by contrast, the average score for Senate Republicans was 20%). Only 16 Democrats got a perfect 100%.
Here are the scores of the members of the new moderate Senate caucus that these "progressives" would have you believe is a nest of reactionaries: Evan Bayh, 70%; Blanche Lincoln, 80%; Mark Pryor, 85%; Joe Lieberman, 85%; Robert Byrd, 55%; Mary Landrieu, 65%; Carl Levin, 100%; Herb Kohl 95%; Bob Casey, 90%; Kent Conrad, 90%; Claire McCaskill, 80%; Bill Nelson, 95%; and Ben Nelson, 75%. The rest are new members elected in 2008 or appointed since the election.
So we have a group that ranges from 55% to 100% with no one even close to the average of 20% for the Republicans. Looks like a moderate to liberal bunch to me.
The obvious truth that somehow evades these well-meaning but dopey folks is that, without the 15 Democrats who comprise the centrist caucus, there would be only 44 Democrats in the Senate. The moderates have won...duh...because they're moderates! Among the newbies in the Bayh caucus are Warner in Virginia, Shaheen in New Hampshire, Hagan in North Carolina, Udall and Bennet in Colorado, and Begich in Alaska. If these Senators all toed the "progressive" line, is there anyone who really believes they would all be Senators?
Get real, people. Obama is going to have to compromise a great deal to pass his programs. As Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Conrad -- a moderate with a 90% ADA rating -- is already out with his five-year spending plan that would drastically cut back on Obama's ambitious budget to bring the huge projected deficits under some semblance of control.
That's not "un-progressive" of him. He's concerned about the damaging inflation that would follow on the heels of the recession and the depressing effect of inevitable tax increases on economic growth. Slow growth and high inflation emphatically are not good for the working families that "progressives" claim to represent. Bayh, Conrad and others are just as concerned about those families as are the bloggers at FDL and handsomely paid talk show hosts.
What do you think? Post a comment.