The Democrats Who Use Bush To Wield Power

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 02:05


Whatever else can be said of the Blue Dogs, they certainly are good at getting press:

But the three could play a big role in the success or failure of the next president, one reason Obama took a break from campaigning last week to call each of them, among the leaders of the "Blue Dog Coalition," a group of conservative-leaning Democrats who are committed to balancing the federal budget.

That is certainly a charitable way to describe the Blue Dogs. One could also describe them as an overwhelmingly white and male group within an otherwise extremely diverse Democratic House caucus, who receive 85% of their donations for corporate lobbyists and who only wield power when they threaten to throw their lot with Republicans. As far as their efforts to be "fiscally conservative" go, it was primarily through the assistance of the Blue Dogs that we continue to spend $12 billion a month in Iraq without any strings attached, and it should also be mentioned that the Blue Dogs voted for the $700 billion bailout in equal proportion to other caucuses. That is some real fiscally conservative responsibility for ya'. Goes right up there with their move to block mortgage reform, which looks really fiscally responsible now, doesn't it? And then there is this:

Although the Blue Dogs demanded austerity measures in the House when Democrats won control of the chamber in 2006, the Senate more or less ignored such "pay-as-you-go" restraints.

Did you get that part? The Senate has "more or less ignored" the few actual measures of fiscal restraint the Blue Dogs tried to keep in place. Kind of makes you wonder how such a group is still described as so powerful, if the few aspects of their fiscal retraint are "more or less ignored." In fact, one has to wonder how such a supposedly powerful group committed to fiscal responsibility has managed to co-exist with a federal government that has overseen the least fiscally responsible spending regimen in history.

Could it be that the power of the Blue Dogs is not actually in maintaining fiscal responsibility, but in threatening to throw their lot with the demographically compatible Republicans in a narrow divided Congress and pass legislation that will then be signed by George Bush? And, could it be that when that threat is no longer applicable--which it almost certainly won't be once the Congress is no longer narrowly divided and George Bush is no longer President--that their demands will go from "more or less ignored" to almost entirely ignored?

The Blue Dogs have used narrow Democratic majorities and George Bush to wield power. Everyone knows that is the real source of their strength. I wonder what they will do once those mechanisms are no longer available. No matter what happens, I imagine they will continue to receive some very good press.

Chris Bowers :: The Democrats Who Use Bush To Wield Power

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Blue Dog Assholes (4.00 / 1)
Well, the Blue Dogs will be losing one of their own when scumbag Tim Mahoney goes down to a well-deserved defeat thanks to his scandal.  And hopefully with a bigger Democratic majority, Pelosi won't need to cow-tow to these assholes any longer.

That said, I like Paygo and wouldn't mind some adherence to it. But instead of the usual Blue Dog version which calls for spending cuts everywhere, how about some big tax increases on the rich? How about raising the estate tax big time?  And what are the Blue Dogs doing about finding waste and fraud in the federal budget, particularly in the defense budget?

The Blue Dogs are really despicable and deserve a comeuppance. Hopefully progressives control the agenda in the next Congress. Reading Obama's book makes me hopeful that his pragmatism will lean in a more liberal direction. He's no Kucinich obviously but with the right advisors he'll be on the left side 90% of the time.


I did the same math you did (0.00 / 0)
I wonder what they will do once those mechanisms are no longer available.

With another 20 seats in the House and a President Obama, I'm pretty sure that Nancy is going to have a small sandbox built in the US Conservatory and whenever the BlueDogs start to whine, she'll give them hammers and tell to go across the street and  pound some sand.  


Nancy Pelosi??? (4.00 / 1)
Where do you get your confidence from? So far, Pelosi hasn't shown much spine when engaging Blue Dogs. Isn't it more realistic to conclude that she will use the new leverage to pressurize progressive lawmakers?

[ Parent ]
Yeah (0.00 / 0)
Nancy has been a huge disappointment in many ways.  However, she's also not stupid and can count to 218, a number that couldn't be reached without the BlueDogs.  We just have to accept, for better or worse, that our party doesn't and never will have the same ... err ... "discipline" ... that the GOP has.

I expect significant victories in the House and Senate this November, as well as President Obama.  With that change in the political environment, if Nancy can't lead, then we need to find someone who can.  


[ Parent ]
It's larger than the Blue Dogs themselves (4.00 / 1)
It's the whole Steny Hoyer wing of the party, the Democrats who think it's better to be business-friendly than worker-friendly, and they will sand off the edges or block lots of useful things.  People whose instinct is to be cautious.

[ Parent ]
Any Blue Dogger who hinders Obama (0.00 / 0)
Will be at serious risk of being primaried in 2010. So we'll simply have to ratchet up the pressure and let them know which side their bread is buttered on.

[ Parent ]
Like it or not, (0.00 / 0)
there is still a working conservative majority (although I hate the word conservative in this context as it promotes legitimacy of purpose), and Obama will have to work with this majority in order to pass legislation.  His approach is one of unity and trying to find points of compromise among disparate worldviews.  Being a staunch progressive, his centrism frustrates me at times.  I remain unconvinced that a bit larger stick might not be appropriate.  I suspect he would argue that while such a Naderite strategy might work in the short term, it would only lead to greater divisiveness (my word of the day apparently) over the long haul, increase partisan tension, and lead to larger and more aggressive oscillations in ideology as the parties wax and wane.  Politics has become too much like a sporting event.

But building bridges only works if you are satisfied to make small steps in progress (to mix metaphors), and then who is to say that the Republicans won't make another strong pull to the right when they eventually regain power (and in a two party system, this is nearly unavoidable).

Maybe progressives should run on the Republican ticket.  The strategy has seemed to work well enough for the Blue Dogs.


Better Democrats, More Democrats (4.00 / 5)
Several points.  The media and the Republicans love this because it is used to describe the 190 to 195 non-Blue Dogs as extremists and left wingers with the Blue Dogs becoming the de facto "center."

Although he is not a member of the Blue Dogs and does not vote with them, Steny Hoyer plays a major role as the Democratic Pasrty's spokesman and more for these jerks.  Electing Steny Majority Leader puts a Damocles sword at Progressives heart.  The best vote Democrats in the next session could do would be to remove Steny Hoyer from the Majority Leader post.

The Blue Dogs are less numerous and function in a similar manner to southern (white) Democrats in the 1932-94 era. There is a reason that Republicans were able to launch sweeping change with a bare majority while Democrats needed the super majorities of 1932-38 and 1964-66.  We needed 290-300 votes in the House because a lot of them were the Blue Dogs of the day.  We may need 270 votes to have the same golden era now.

The Blue Dogs have such overwhelmingly good press that they include at least ten soft members from places like New York and California.  The group probably includes as few as 30 hard votes but 236 minus 30 is 206.

The 2006 election turned out to be a bonanza for these dudes.  Nearly half of the members elected from Republican districts turned out to be Blue Dogs and many are major whiners and media hogs.  They really eat up resources as well.  The bottom of the Democrats scores on Progressive Punch are mostly composed of freshmen.

It may have been important to elect Democrats in 2006; it is far more important to elect "Better Democrats" in 2008.  We have the Speaker slot.  I'd rather elect five progressives than ten Blue Dogs.  And believe me the Blue Dogs wind up costing as much.

The motto should be "identify and elect" because otherwise we can wind up electing really bad candidates from rewlatively safe districts.  Identify who is progressive and then band together and elect the good candidate.  Don't run three progressives and one "conservative" in a safe, open seat.  


Exactly (0.00 / 0)
As long as Hoyer is in the leadership the Blue Dogs have a voice in the leadership.

He must not become speaker.

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


[ Parent ]
Open Left has been vocal about Blue Dogs, and (4.00 / 1)
I hope that with the new congress, we can force these guys to vote right, or we will focus all in on getting rid of them in 2010.

It is time to fight, and be partisan about it.

And Hoyer, let's make doubly sure and target Hoyer, the backstabbing bastard.


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