As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Back Off So I Have Room To Stick The Knife In

Harry Reid wants all these liberal groups with their ideas and principles to just take it down a notch.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that liberal groups targeting moderate Democrats with ads should back off, saying pressure from the left wing of his party won't be helpful to enacting legislation.

"I think it's very unwise and not helpful," Reid said Friday morning. "These groups should leave them alone. It’s not helpful to me. It’s not helpful to the Democratic Caucus.”

Reid, who said he hadn’t seen or heard the ads, added that "most of [the groups] run very few ads — they only to do it to get a little press on it."

In one respect, Reid is fulfilling his traditional role. The left pushes on the ConservaDems, and the Majority Leader comes to the rescue of the members of his caucus, and the ConservaDems thank him. Thusly bonds are made. Reid won't stop the calls to Senate offices, especially when the likes of Ben Nelson are vowing to vote asking the budget if it includes reconciliation.

In another respect, I have to agree with David Waldman.

But the thing is, you really need to add your two points together to get to something meaningful about how things are going in the Senate. There really are people who only join these groups so that they can say they're moderate. That's true. There's a lot of gaming of the system going on. And at the same time, you really don't like being told it's "my way or no way." No one does.

But just as there are people in those "moderate" groups who aren't really all that "moderate," it's also true that some of the people who say they're "moderate" really are people on the extremes, who are saying to you "it's only my way or no way."

That's the reason -- the only reason, really -- that voting blocs like Evan Bayh's exist. They're formed precisely so that they can use their numbers to say to you, ultimately, that "it's only my way or no way." The power of a voting bloc lies in its ability to deliver or withhold its votes. And as you know, there are only two ways to vote in the Senate. Further, because there's no way to set up a vote in the Senate such that you get to vote all at once for one or the other of two competing proposals, every single vote is really essentially a choice between "only my way or no way." Yes, the very next vote can be on whether or not to adopt some other, compromise way. But each vote, taken by itself, is "this way or nothing," and a no vote is a vote for nothing. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes a bad thing. But a no is a no.

That being the case, it's worth noting -- as I'm sure you do in your own internal dialogue -- that Evan Bayh's gang is all about "my way or no way." And that reveals them for what they are. (When and if they ever decide to actually hang together as a group, that is.) "Moderate" may be the label they're hoping people will allow them to cling to, but by your definition, they're people on the extremes.

In other words, Reid spends a lot of time and effort here calling out those on the left for making his life difficult, but precious little for those Democrats on the right who are... um, making his life difficult. Maybe that happens internally, but given this latest outrage, I think we can conclude that the Majority Leader believes exactly as the Evan Bayhs of the world believe.

Senate Majority Leader Reid said today he would drop a cram-down provision from a House-passed banking bill if the language threatened to keep the Senate from passing the overall bill. The provision would allow a bankruptcy judge to reduce a homeowner's mortgage principal. "If we can't get the votes for that, and I am hopeful we can -- I am semiconfident we can -- then what I'll do is take that off [the bill] and do the other banking provisions," Reid said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.

Harry Reid doesn't want liberals to back off so he can manage his caucus without intrusion - he wants them to back off so, you know, they back off, without criticizing the decisions for which he is ultimately responsible. Deep-sixing cramdown is just the beginning, if progressives fail to hold their leaders accountable. Reid just made the entire argument for why these calls and advertisements have to go forward - because he will do nothing worthwhile without pressure.

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