I know I should be resting to try and rid myself of this cold that has me by the throat, but I couldn’t resist blogging about this fascinating story from the Washington Post written about the Nutroots and a Democrat Representative they are targeting. It’s Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-CA), who is the Chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition. Why are they after her? Read on:
The Democratic majority was only three weeks old, but by Jan. 26, the grass-roots and Net-roots activists of the party’s left wing had already settled on their new enemy: Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.), the outspoken chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition.
Progressive blogs — including two new ones, Ellen Tauscher Weekly and Dump Ellen Tauscher — were bashing her as a traitor to her party. A new liberal political action committee had just named her its “Worst Offender.” And in Tauscher’s East Bay district office that day in January, eight MoveOn.org activists were accusing her of helping President Bush send more troops to Iraq.
Helping? Jennifer Barton, the lawmaker’s district director, played them a DVD of Tauscher blasting the increase as an awful idea in a floor speech eight days earlier.
“The words are fine and good, but we are looking for leadership,” scoffed Susan Schaller, one of the activists.
Leadership? Barton showed them the eight golden shovels Tauscher had received for bringing transportation projects to her suburban district, along with numerous awards she had won for her work protecting children, wetlands, affordable housing and abortion rights.
“That’s fine and good,” Schaller repeated, “but this is about Iraq.”
Tauscher essentially is the Joe Lieberman of the House, although her record on Iraq is much less impressive than Lieberman’s.
Why do the Nutroots feel confident that they can successfully ‘change’ or defeat Tauscher? The WaPo explains:
The anti-Tauscher backlash illustrates how the Democratic takeover has energized and emboldened the party’s liberal base, ratcheting up the pressure on the party’s moderates. That pressure is also reaching House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a San Francisco liberal who recognizes that moderate voters helped sweep Democrats into the majority.
What did I write just prior to the Lamont/Lieberman primary about the Nutroots and what a Lamont victory in the primaries would symbolize to them?
What’s going on here is, I think, a war on what the future of the Democratic party will be: will it be the party of rabid anti-war types like Ned Lamont? Or will it be the party that is able to find middle ground on the issue of the Iraq war – with those who don’t think we should be in Iraq and those who supported the Iraq war and still do being able to agree that in spite of their differences we need to finish what we started there? With defeatist Democrats like House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi hailing last December the “diverse” stances the Democratic party has taken on the Iraq war, as well as a repeated failure to find a unified message on Iraq, I don’t hold out any hope that the rabid anti-war faction will unite with Democrats who insist we must stay in Iraq to complete the mission.
The interesting thing about all this, though, is that Tauscher voted with the Dem majority last week on the House resolution condemning the President’s surge plan. So it’s not like she’s a strong proponent of continuing the mission. Nevertheless, she’s not a party puritan on the issue and to the Nutroots, that equates to treason.
But there’s more at play, contrary to the ‘activist’ quoted in the piece, than just the Iraq issue by itself. The WaPo article continues (emphasis added):
Tauscher was reelected with 68 percent of the vote, but she said she takes this threat seriously; she has already used it in fundraising appeals. And though she has always highlighted her independence — shortly before the election, she warned Democrats not to “go off the left cliff” – she’s now emphasizing her party loyalty.
She was once the only California Democrat to oppose Pelosi’s campaign for leadership, but she now marvels that the speaker’s performance has been “absolutely perfect — and she looks so beautiful doing it!” Tauscher’s Web site no longer features photos of her with Bush or Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), who lost a Democratic primary of his own last year but won reelection as an independent.
Those photos survived in Google’s cache; bloggers have dubbed one shot that appears to show Bush’s hand on Tauscher’s thigh “The Caress,” an allusion to “The Kiss” — video and photos showing Bush embracing Lieberman after the 2005 State of the Union address — which dogged the senator in his fight against insurgent Ned Lamont. Tauscher donated and has helped raise a total of $2 million for Democrats over the past decade, and since 2003 she has voted with her party more than 90 percent of the time. This year, she has marched in lock step with Pelosi. But to Net-roots sites such as Daily Kos, Firedoglake, and Crooks and Liars, she’s Lieberman in a pantsuit.
IOW, she doesn’t hate the President, she’s not into routinely bowing to the far left nuts in her own party, and she hasn’t admitted her vote authorizing the war in Iraq was a mistake – so therefore, she must go (sound familiar?)!
Markos “screw them” Zuniga, proprietor of the Daily Kos – the most far left and prominent of the lefty blogs (so much so that Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin solicited the Kos readership for help on ‘setting the Senate agenda’) – had this to say:
That’s why Kos has promised “a vicious fight for her seat.” He’s often portrayed as a raving ideologue, but he’s really a savvy strategist; he has no problem supporting conservative Democrats in conservative districts, such as new Rep. Heath Shuler (N.C.). But he sees no need to tolerate a DLC type in Tauscher’s district, where Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) received 58 percent of the presidential vote in 2004. And he said that primaries are the only way to force incumbents with safe seats to pay attention to constituents.
“We’re creating real democracy,” he said.
LOL. Yeah, by purging the party of anyone who doesn’t toe the defeatist party line on Iraq, and who doesn’t openly display their hatred of the CIC. By the way, there’s a reason Kos supports Rep. Heath Shuler, and that’s because he knows there’s no way in hell a Democrat would have taken that seat any other way but to have been a conservative Dem. Kos and co. are targeting districts where the Senators and Reps. are ‘ supposedly more conservative than their districts are’:
Kos and MoveOn.org founder Eli Pariser serve on the board of They Work for Us — an issue advocacy group affiliated with Working for Us — which also plans to focus on Democrats more conservative than their districts.
“We’re not going to the Heath Shulers of the world and saying, ‘We want you to be more like Barney Frank,’ ” Rosenthal said, referring to the liberal congressman.
But Kos points to Harman as a perfect example of how the Net roots can keep Democrats in line. He said Harman used to be a constant irritant, a go-to quote for reporters looking for a Democrat to tweak liberals — until she had to fight off a primary challenge from the left in 2006. “She’s been great ever since,” he said. Now Harman even writes on the liberal Huffington Post blog.
Kos can imagine a day when Tauscher still holds her seat but is no longer distasteful to the left. “That’s what victory would look like — a more responsive representative,” he said. So when Tauscher praises Pelosi as “perfect on substance, perfect on optics,” it’s hard to know if that’s a result of personal evolution, political trends, or blogospheric pressure, but it’s music to Kos’s ears.
The sheer arrogance of this position shouldn’t be lost on anyone. In essence, Kos and co. want to beat down into submission anyone they find ‘distasteful’ by threatening elected representatives via attempting to convince voters in their districts that there are ‘better options.’ Which would be ok if, well, the voters hadn’t already voted in favor of that ‘distasteful person.’ To Kos and co., what’s ‘good’ for the far left nationally, should be good enough for more mainstream lefties locally. They just have to ‘convince’ the locals of that.
More on the liberal criticism of Tauscher:
Tauscher’s liberal critics say she has undermined the party during the Bush years, making a fetish of bipartisanship at a time when Republicans had no interest in real compromise, demonizing the far left at a time when Democrats needed to unify against the far right. And they’re still seething about her “left cliff” quote, which echoed GOP talking points before Election Day.
“She reinforces the idea that lefties are out-of-control children,” said Brian Leubitz, who runs a liberal California blog called Calitics. “She provides cover for Republican extremists.”
Heh. The people actually reinforcing the idea that lefties are out-of-control children are the “Democrat extremists” aka the Nutroots themselves, and attempting to purge another one of their own because she doesn’t bow to the altar of the fruitcake fringe is a glaring example of just that. They hate that she does things like this:
But Code Pink activist Zanne Joi, whose shirt read “Stop Funding, Start Impeaching,” was not impressed. She said she was horrified that Tauscher hadn’t challenged Gates about Iraq, that she had treated the increase as a done deal. “We need her to stand up and end this war,” said Joi. She and her Code Pink colleagues recently told Tauscher that if she wouldn’t support a bill calling for total withdrawal from Iraq within six months, they’d occupy one of her district offices.
Tauscher rolls her eyes at this kind of talk. She said she doesn’t trust anything the Bush administration says, but it’s the administration in power. “I want to represent my constituents, so I have to work with this president,” she said. “I’m a pragmatic person. I don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘I’ll come back in January 2009 and try to get some work done.’ “
And being pragmatic and wanting to get things done while working with the President is just not good enough for the ‘bats. It’s “hate Bush” “be militantly anti-war” or nothing at all.
It’s not a joke to say that the lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum. Just look at how Dem presidential contender John Edwards responded to the wave of criticism levelled at the hate-filled bloggers his staff had hired to work for his campaign: after all was said and done, he kept them on staff (they resigned days later, in a blaze of defiant ‘it’s the right’s fault! glory). Look at how House Democratic leaders reacted to Absolute Moral Authority cardholder Cindy Sheehan and her band of anti-war nuts when confronted by them during a recent press conference: they ran away.
When you hand over control of your party to the fringe elements within, you have to expect that these things will happen. In fact, the fringe for the left is no longer that: it is now mainstream. For as many problems we all have with Republicans on any number of issues, one thing we can safely say is that they haven’t turned the party over to the far right Pat Robertson-esque wing. As I’ve said before, it’s bad enough to have the far left in control of the party at peacetime. But during wartime? It’s embarrassing to anyone with half a brain who cares about in what direction this country is headed, and it’s emboldening to our enemies who are paying attention to every move we make. The far left’s rise to prominence couldn’t come at a worse time for this country, and I pray very hard that their juvenile arrogance, ingrained pessimism, and penchant for self-loathing and cowardice don’t hurt us anymore than it already has.
Hat tip for the WaPo link: ST reader Leslie.
Update: The latest target for the Nutroots? The Nevada Democrats. Why? Hint: It has everything to do with Fox News Derangement Syndrome, as Michelle Malkin explains. Read related thoughts on that via Greg Tinti.