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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No Room for Moderation

In an article I nominated for the Watcher's Council, Dick Morris talks about what Parker Griffith's move to the Republicans means for moderates in the Democratic Party.

Parker Griffith’s decision to step out of line and refuse to drink the Democratic Kool-Aid illustrates the Achilles Heel of the Democratic regime in Washington: The radical reign of Pelosi and Reid is held up by pillars of moderate and conservative Democrats who come from districts that regularly vote Republican. To survive in these red precincts, Democrats must act like Republicans, advocating a balanced budget, opposing big spending, and fighting against socialized medicine. But, in Washington, Pelosi and Reid use their backing to bring a radical left leadership to Congress.

Once it sufficed for a moderate Democrat merely to vote “no.” But American voters are onto their tricks and realize that a Democrat — any Democrat — will vote “yes” when his party leaders need it. The unanimous Senate Democratic support for Obamacare shows that there are really only two types of Congresspeople: Democrats and Republicans. All other shadings and adjectives are mere decoration.

Morris goes onto surmise that moderates merely demand more bribery and that ultimately there are only Republicans and Democrats in the legislature. Furthermore, Democrats are being lead by the "radicals" as Morris calls them, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

In fact, Americans for Limited Government have been making a similar point recently.

Yesterday, Americans for Limited Government released the voting records of some 90 Blue Dog and other so-called “moderate” House Democrats on twelve key votes in 2009.Bottom line: When it comes to profligate spending, the Blue Dogs are anything but watchdogs. And the moderates make Paris Hilton look tight-fisted.

The ALG analysis includes votes on the $789 billion “stimulus”, bankruptcy mortgage “cramdowns,” ACORN funding, a $108 billion International Monetary Fund expansion, the Waxman-Markey carbon emission caps, the $2.1 trillion “public option” health system, the $154 billion assistance program for bankrupt states, and the $290 billion debt limit expansion.

Here's what I said in the aftermath of the elections about the Blue Dogs.

Yet, their real power will be in crafting legislation. The Blue Dogs are just as likely to be voting with the Republicans (if not frankly more likely) as they are with the Democrats. They are certainly a lot more afraid of a radical Congress than are the Republicans. Republicans are hoping for a far left Congress so that they can use it as bludgeon against folks JUST LIKE the Blue Dogs in 2010. The Blue Dogs would of course be the recipients of just such an attack. Blue Dogs are so fiscally conservative that they favor the tool of PAYGO, offsetting spending increases with spending cuts elsewhere. They are also generally socially conservative. It was Blue Dog Rep, Heath Shuler, that introduced the very pro enforcement anti illegal immigration bill, the SAVE Act. Finally, it was the Blue Dogs that couldn't be gotten in order to pass the Iraq War funding bill with a timetable. On all these crucial issues, the Blue Dogs
will be up for grab so to speak.

As it's turned out, the Blue Dogs have often been rainmakers but almost always for favors for themselves. Bart Stupak was able to craft very stiff anti abortion language in the House. Joe Lieberman, not technically a Blue Dog because they're in the House, was able to strip the public option out of the bill. For the most part, their votes were essentially bought. The agenda has been driven by the left wing of the party.

What's also happening, however, is a similar process on the Republican side. That process is being driven by the Tea Parties. It's in its infancy. It will have a major test in Florida. That's where down the line conservative, Marco Rubio, is facing the moderate Governor, Charlie Crist, for the U.S. Senate.

The Tea Parties are one of the most powerful forces in politics today. Where they hold the most power is in the Republican primaries. That's where they are the overwhelming force. The Tea Parties, as I've pointed out, are stuck in a tension between becoming their own party and overwhelming the Republican party. While they make up their minds, they are determined to purge the Republicans of all so called RINOs. That includes names like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe. Crist is their first target but all these folks are in their cross hairs as well.

It isn't just politicians. Moderate pundits and thinkers like David Frum and David Brooks are often maligned and ridiculed by folks sympathetic to the cause of conservatism.

I've pointed out that this is not only suicidal but frankly totally disingenuous. Ask any conservative who their favorite Democrat is and about 99% will tell you Joe Lieberman. Why? It's because Lieberman bucks his party, shows independence, and "votes on principle". Well, McCain, Graham, Snowe and Collins do the same thing. Of course, when they're bucking your own it's not so great.

What is clear is that both parties are now being driven by the extremes and moderation won't be tolerated in either party.

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