Alan Boyd of the Blue Dogs, on the Blue Dogs
"We think this is the group that represents where the greatest bloc of Americans are -- toward that big middle. Not far left, not far right, but that big middle, that's going to be able to get things done," he added. "And it's going to have to be done on a bipartisan basis."
OK, so according to the Blue Dogs, the Blue Dogs represent the middle. Now, as I understand it, proposals that are supported by the middle of the country typically forma majority. Majorities like this
Would you support or oppose Congress trying to block Bush's plan by creating new rules on troop training and rest time that would limit the number of troops available for duty in Iraq?
Support: 58 percent
Oppose: 39 percent
Unknown: 4 percent
However, the only major victory of the Blue Dogs so far in the 110th Congress has been to defeat this popular proposal
With Democrats in charge again, the Blue Dogs have played a key role in halting an emerging plan to place strict conditions on war funding. Their revolt helped beat back that proposal, by Pelosi ally John Murtha, D-Pa. Leaders are now considering a watered-down version.
Good job. I guess the "middle" actually means the 39% who opposed Murtha's plan instead of, you know, the majority of the country. The latest Gallup poll
actually put much larger majorities in favor of specific provisions in Murtha's now dead plan, including 76% in favor of "Requiring U.S. troops returning from Iraq to stay in the U.S. for at least a year before being re-deployed to Iraq." The 21% opposed to that idea must also be the "middle." But the press is always there to back up their blue Dogs with their unyielding conventional wisdom. From the Politico
Pelosi is trying to balance demands from anti-war liberal Democrats for dramatic moves to scale down -- or end -- the war against calls from more moderate and conservative Democrats to avoid votes that would undoubtedly jeopardize their own political futures. That includes a vote on a proposal by Rep. Jack P. Murtha (D-Pa.) to restrict the Pentagon in deploying the additional 21,500 combat troops that President Bush plans to send to Iraq.
Yes, Murtha's plan would have "undoubtedly" damaged Democrats in conservative districts. It obviously damaged conservative Murtha, who is from a marginal district in Pennsylvania, for example. The AP provides another assist:
The group's clout lies in its numbers and its reach into competitive districts that proved crucial to Democrats' victory last November. With just a 32-seat majority in the House, Democrats can't afford to alienate their conservative flank.
Wow, I doubt that the Blue Dogs could have better crafted that sentence themselves. Further, the AP reminds us that while progressives are unhappy with the lack of substantive Democratic actions on Iraq, in the end progressives don't really matter (emphasis mine):
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., a member of the "Out of Iraq" caucus that favors forcing an end to the war, complained in a recent Web interview that Blue Dogs "are bragging that they have nine new members."
In the interview with the liberal group Progressive Democrats of America, she pointed out that the Progressive Caucus can boast the same number of freshmen.
But party officials argue that those more liberal newcomers are not in competitive seats, and that their supporters are unlikely to forsake Democrats in 2008, when they will be highly motivated to turn out to try to wrest the presidency from Republicans.
You see, progressives might be unhappy, but really their unhappiness doesn't matter. We can bring in whatever new members we want, but in the end we should shut up and do whatever the Blue Dogs say. And here is what the Blue Dogs are saying:
"Iraq is a good example," Boyd said. "The majority of the caucus would say, 'Let's be really strong in forcing the president out of here.' Well, some of us are really uncomfortable playing general, and you're going to see that reflected in what we vote on."
While gleefully using Republican talking points, Alan Boyd just bragged that the Blue Dogs killed Murtha's plan to do anything substantive about Iraq. If you brag that prevented Democrats from doing anything substantial about the war, then enjoy owning the Iraq war as well. This is also a guy who was also in the fainthearted faction on Social Security--in Florida
. I think we just found another primary challenge for 2008. I am quite confident that anyone running on a pro-Iraq war, anti-Social Security platform in even a marginal district like FL-02 will go down to defeat once their positions are known. And in a primary amongst just Democrats, running against someone like that would be fish in a barrel.More
: Some of the new members of the progressive caucus include Gabrielle Giffords in AZ-08, John Hall in NY-19, Jerry McNerney in CA-11, and Bruce Braley in IA-01. Not exactly uber-blue districts--Braley's is the only district that Kerry won, and all were held by Republicans before this year. It was also fun when Mazie Hirono actually replaced Ed Case in HI-02 this year, since that seat shifted from Blue Dog held to Progressive held. The real difference between members like these and Alan Boyd is that they are willing to fight the way Republicans portray Democratic policy proposals, while Boyd helps Republicans portray Democratic policy proposals like Murtha's plan in as negative a fashion as possible.