Losing Blue Dogs


Charlie Cook just said something very profound (which is unusual.) Chris Matthews asked whether or not the Democrats would lose the House next year and he said he didn’t think so, but that they might lose 20 seats. And then he said this:

But arguably the people they would lose would be the Blue Dogs who aren’t voting with [the president] anyway.

I would love to hear anyone tell me why I shouldn’t be cheering for that outcome.

Cook said it would “reflect on” the president, but from my perspective it would reflect well on him. And if it happens because he rammed through meaningful health care reform instead of some watered down bucket of warm spit and the administration managed to get unemployment down, I think he will very likely have Morning in America in 2012.

The strength of a caucus is determined more by discipline than margin. By any reasonably measure, Blue Dog Democrats are defined primarily by their willingness to disrupt party discipline for their own self-interest.

There are two ways it will be possible for the Democratic leadership, particularly President Obama, to overcome Blue Dog disloyalty: (1) Expand the Democratic majority in the House with more reliable Democratic votes to the point of making the 52 Blue Dogs unable to swing the outcome on votes; or, (2) Lose 20 or so Blue Dogs at midterms to reduce the power of the caucus. While generally unified, Blue Dogs don’t have total caucus discipline on all issues and reducing their size by 40% would reduce their efficacy, even if they still maintained the ability to swing votes to the Republican position.

More to the point, the Blue Dogs in the House and a handful of conservative Democrats in the Senate have been the primary obstacles to reform during the Obama administration. Obama’s problem hasn’t been Republicans – it’s been conservative Democrats who seem to feel no vulnerability to being branded as obstructionists to the change their constituents voted for in 2008. Reducing their influence within the Democratic Party through electoral loses is just fine by me…and I agree with Digby that this outcome should be driven by forcing them to support meaningful healthcare reform.

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