The Three Armies Occupying D.C.: Land Rover Liberals, Corrupt Cowboys and the Millionaire Media

by: David Sirota

Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 10:01

The health care debate has reminded us that there really are three separate but coordinated armies that defend the status quo in Washington - and will defend that status quo, whether on health care or any other economic issue. In my newspaper column today, I look at who these factions are, and what their motives are. You can read the column here.

In a nutshell, you have the Land Rover Liberals, many coming from the 14 out of 25 wealthiest congressional districts that Democrats now represent. Right now, their opposition to health care and tax reform is being led by Boulder, Colorado Rep. Jared Polis (D).

You also have the Corrupt Cowboys - those lawmakers from very poor, mostly Southern and Western parts of the country. These people give themselves Americana sounding nicknames like "Blue Dog Democrats" or "Main Street Republicans" so as to pretend their opposition to health care comes from their being down home guys "representin' the folks back home." Of course, these same lawmakers are among the most rapacious corporate fundraisers and lobbyist-connected insiders in Congress. And as I pointed out yesterday, there's no evidence that the districts and states the Corrupt Cowboys represent despise health reform by virtue of the fact that they are culturally conservative bastions. In fact, Nate Silver says there's exactly the opposite evidence:

David Sirota :: The Three Armies Occupying D.C.: Land Rover Liberals, Corrupt Cowboys and the Millionaire Media
There's not really any evidence that health care reform is unpopular in the Blue Dog districts. Although there are exceptions, most of the Blue Dog districts are fairly poor. A Quinnipiac poll released earlier this month suggested that while 53 percent of voters overall think "think it's the government's responsibility to make sure that everyone in the United States has adequate health care", 61 percent of voters making under $50,000 do. Also, while Quinnipaic did not break out the results for moderate and conservative Democrats, which are plentiful in these Districts, one can reasonably infer them. In this poll, 79 percent of liberals agreed with the statement as did 77 percent of Democrats -- not a very big difference. Since almost all liberals are Democrats and about half of all Democrats are liberals, that suggests that support for health care reform among non-liberal Democrats is something like 75 percent.

Thus, the story about the honest, god-fearing, good ol' boy cowboys opposing health care reform out of representational obligation has only been able to become conventional wisdom through the Millionaire Media - the elite national press corps, chock full of very wealthy people, that disseminates the most pernicious kind of anti-reform propaganda. These are the same people who insisted we should immediately rush $12 trillion in bailout cash out to Wall Street speculators, and who now insist that 64 years of debates over a $1 trillion health care proposal is inappropriately "rushing" health care reform. They are also the voices who are actually deriding health care reform as an inhumane proposal to legislatively waterboard the poor, persecuted richest one percent.

In the column, I look at the motives of all these groups, and give President Obama huge props for taking them on. As a sometime critic of Obama, I really think he's doing a fantastic job right now, and the news this morning from the New York Times that "the president planning trips across the country" to campaign for health care reform is just fantastic. He's going to have to take on the three groups I discuss in my column - and if he can beat them, we're going to get universal health care.

Read the whole column here.

The column relies on grassroots support - and because of that support, it is getting wider and wider circulation (a big thank you to all who have helped with that). So if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use this directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site. Thanks, as always, for your ongoing readership and help contacting local editors. This column couldn't be what it is without your help.  

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Conservatives will only be interested in talking about healthcare reform (4.00 / 2)
Conservatives will only be interested in talking about healthcare reform as long as the narrative is that they and the evil lobbyists are winning.

Right now they say slow.  But what if Democrats actually do slow down?  Then the debate will be about healthcare 24/7 and that can only be good for democrats.

So I think for democrats the longer this goes on the better.


Great piece. (4.00 / 2)
I'm so tired of being yelled at by progressives who don't have a clue about how the game is actually played and I don't have the patience to spell it all out for them.

Now I can just make them read this instead.

Damn its good to have you back Sirota (4.00 / 1)
This is good writing and good analysis grounded in thinking less than fearful chirps or conspiracy drivel.

This is a difficult time I agree, and as you say the Bordello is as full of cheap dates, and not so cheap dates as has been documented, just as it has been in the past.

What's important is that apparently principled people are making things happen anyway, not happen like, "what is the best thing to do?" But happen as it historically does, "what can I force through these self important, greedy, crazy and often delusional folks who crowd the halls of Washington."

Do these people actually know what will get them re-elected, or what would benefit their constituents? Oh hell no.

And as I pointed out yesterday, there's no evidence that the districts and states the Corrupt Cowboys represent despise health reform by virtue of the fact that they are culturally conservative bastions. In fact, Nate Silver says there's exactly the opposite evidence

Obama and the progressive caucus are the central drive of the health reform push going through congress as you say, and that is something, not just wished for, but worked for even screamed for here. The blue dogs are getting the Press for all the same reasons they always have, and because they are dragging their feet. Dragging their feet is heroism to the Blue dogs. The Republicans are "The Party of NO", the Blue dogs are "The Caucus of Ummmmm..." Must make their mums proud.

But we also have to take on what Susie Madrak, at Crooks and Liars, stomps The people who scream "The sky is falling" who can't hold their water or for whichever purpose they have:

Bait and Switch on Public Option? No, The Sky Really Isn't Falling
By Susie Madrak Thursday Jul 23, 2009 3:00pm

One of the things I've learned from my many years in journalism (and yes, even my short stint as a political staffer) is that when legislation is first proposed, people throw a bunch of crap on the wall and duke it out over the details. You know why they say it's like watching sausage being made? Because it's stomach-churning.

Several bloggers linked to this. They're taking the article in good faith and assume it's accurate in its conclusions (that the public option has been gutted and the idea of "reform" amounts to a bait and switch), and I just don't believe that.

The author doesn't even seem to understand how legislation is made. It's kind of like judging the way a finished room will look by painting a stripe on the wall: It's not the whole picture.

The bills are usually weakened at this point in the process - but they're fixed later in committee. One of the reasons it still works like this is so politicians can say, "I voted against that!" if part of a bill becomes controversial in his or her district. (Remember the thing with Kerry, where he said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I was against it"? He's right. All politicians do it.) Some of the same politicians who are screaming on the teevee against this will be a lot more reasonable once the cameras aren't running. The final committee work is what counts.

So really, the sky isn't falling. I would tell you if I thought it was. I mean, I'm not exactly known as Obama's biggest booster, am I?

I'd rather ward off the attacks from the insurance companies and the Blue Dogs instead. It's no secret that I think single payer is the best solution - but I'm not going to try to poison this compromise bill to prove a point.

The next best thing to single payer is structural change that really makes people understand and support the concept that health care can and should be accessible to everyone. This bill will do that, and we can improve from there.

I'm actually shocked to find the more I look at the long-term strategy here, the more I like it. The fact is, it will be a lot more politically difficult for members of Congress to vote against those future incremental improvements than to vote against the entire plan now. Once it's in place, and constituents start calling their elected officials with complaints about flaws in the bill, they're going to have to fix those problems - or at the very least, not get in the way of the solution.

Remember: Social Security only covered about half of the people when it first passed. It took almost 10 years to get there, but you couldn't take it away now. The voters would be furious.

We won't get there overnight, but this bill will at least be a decent start.

Support Davids column, get it into your local paper, lets put voices that arent pre-approved by Versailles into the MSM. The internet is good and a wonderful for thing for progressives to get the word out, but broadcast and print reach a lot of people all at once.
Find your paper, get them to publish Sirota


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

PLF15 (4.00 / 1)
goes District by District today with respect to Blue Dogs.

It is a great read from someone whose work I have come to respect alot. He idenfies about 10 whom he would primary, the rest are in largely Republican Districts.

The real problem is the Senate.  McCain carries 22 States in a plus 7 year.  That suggests it will always be difficult to get cloture on liberal legislation.

Until you kill the filibuster, which is now something we must pursue.

I am so completely in favour of killing the filibuster. (0.00 / 0)
B=ut I am even more infavour of letting the gas bags just bring the Senate to a halt every single day, because they cant and wont because they are blowhards and pissants and gasbags. becasue their love of personal satisfaction, their love of luxuray amd fawning and gold bathrooms taps is too strong to do actual work, like standing and talking for hours on end.

The image of the Party of No just being asshats for days on end as the country demands they go, fills my heart.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
Wonderful job, David! (4.00 / 1)
It is great to have you back, throwing rhetorical bombs. I can't wait until next week and your piece about responses from people about this column. I was amused someone in Talahassee (sp?) called you a Marxist. Too funny.

Keep up the good work.

comment (0.00 / 0)
The Health Care was the most talked issue in the White House today. Health Care Reform was one of the hottest topics but only few can fully understand what it is. Let's hope that this issue would be resolve soon for the benefits of the citizens. Anyway, another headline today is about sexual assault filed against a famous QB Ben Roethlisberger (commonly called by his fans "Big Ben". According to the news, Mcnulty alleges Roethlisberger lured her into his room and forced her to have sex with him. Regardless of the validity of the allegations, because of Roethlisberger' notoriety, the search for pictures of the casino worker was on. This story provides us with a good example of how initial negative press should be handled. Well, sex crimes are noticeably increasing in its rate.


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