Don't turn opponents of what you oppose into supporters of what you oppose!

Not to belabor the point I've made enough as it is, but I want to do a little arithmetic with last night's health care vote.

Glenn Reynolds linked the following list of Red State Democrats who voted for cloture last night, and here they are:

Alaska - Mark Begich.
Arkansas - Blanche Lincoln.
Arkansas - Mark Pryor.
Louisiana - Mary Landrieu.
Missouri - Claire McCaskill.
Montana - Max Baucus.
Montana - Jon Tester.
Nebraska - Ben Nelson.
North Dakota - Kent Conrad.
North Dakota - Byron Dorgan.
South Dakota - Tim Johnson.
West Virginia - Robert Byrd.
West Virginia - Jay Rockefeller.
A skilled political analyst I am not, but I can count, and I see 13 senators above. Right now, the Senate is split 60/40, Democrat versus Republican. What that means is that if, say, ten of above 13 senators have problems with the health care bill, it won't pass.

Bear in mind that while there is considerable overlap, the above list is not identical to the list of Senate Blue Dogs that has been floating around:

Nelson, Ben (D-NE)
Specter (R-PA)
Carper (D-DE)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Pryor (D-AR)
Nelson, Bill (D-FL)
Johnson (D-SD)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Salazar (D-CO)
Bayh (D-IN)
Conrad (D-ND)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Baucus (D-MT)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
I am not about to research each one of these senators to determine the possible objections they may have to one or more provisions in the health care bill, but I do know this: because Republicans are in the minority, they cannot defeat the bill simply by voting along party lines. It must therefore be their goal to get as many Democrats as possible to vote with them against the bill.


Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't common sense suggest that the Republicans ought not do anything which might help reluctant Democrats vote for the bill?

No matter what horror is in that bill, the more horrifying it is, the less likely the blue dogs will vote for it, right? So if, for example, the bill criminalized heterosexual marriage and lowered the age of consent to six, wouldn't it be better to leave those things in and demand an up and down vote than to take them out and overcome Democratic objections?

If the Republicans are going to vote against this anyway, why not just do that, and vote against it as it is? Cleaning it up (or helping the Democrats clean it up) so that it overcomes the objections of reluctant Democrats strikes me as the worst strategy imaginable -- unless the goal is to help get it passed.

It may be that I am not getting something, but to me, simple math and common sense dictates the following.

It just isn't smart for Republicans to turn Democratic opponents of the bill into supporters of the bill.

Once again, I think it is the worst strategy imaginable, and it seems so obvious -- so painfully obvious -- that I shouldn't have to be pointing it out.

So then, why am I?

Because the Republicans did it in the House, and for the life of me, I cannot understand why. Were these professional politicians really that naive? Or did they know what they were doing?

I don't know, but here's what I don't want to have to say again:

The bottom line is that this bill could have been stopped. By Republicans.

MORE: Here's Byron York:

...judging by the statements of four moderate Democrats -- Lieberman, Lincoln, Landrieu, and Nelson -- it will be far, far harder when the process comes to the really important vote, the one that would bring debate to a close and move on to an up-or-down vote on the Democrats' health care plan. On Saturday, all four of those Democrats publicly threatened to side with Republicans and kill the bill before it can move to a final vote, unless their concerns are met.
So let's just hope the Republicans don't do anything that will help meet their concerns.

AND MORE: Reading between the lines here, it appears that Arkansas's blue dog Senator Lincoln is facing extreme pressure from the left, in the form of a possible primary challenge from Lt. Governor Halter. At a Clinton Library event, Bill Clinton himself denounced this ploy, and pointedly refused to attend a Keith Olbermann event:

Clinton responded that Olbermann was politicizing the clinic, and that it wasn't helpful for Olbermann to do that. He said he did not feel he could show up now, because the event had turned political.

Eve said that Halter had been very helpful, and that the event was not political. She said that Halter's intercession had been key in getting the Convention center to give the clinics space.

Clinton replied that the event was becoming political, and that it was clear what was happening: a primary of Blanche Lincoln.

Olbermann, who has invited his viewers to contribute to the National Association of Free Clinics in advance of the event, has said on his show that "I want Sens. (Blanche) Lincoln and (Mark) Pryor to see what health care poverty is really like in Little Rock."

Those who oppose government health care should consider themselves lucky that Hillary Clinton is not president right now.

MORE: From commenter LYNNDH, a good point:

You need to revise/update your list. Salazar is no longer Senator, but Bennett is. Salazar is now in BO's cabinet.
Point noted, but it's not my list to revise. It's just one that has been floating around, and I used it for comparison purposes.

So scratch Salazar. (Whether to add Bennett, I don't know.)

MORE: Speaking of Senator Bennet, David Harsanyi's column reveals that he is under enormous pressure to cave, but is being encouraged to risk martyrdom -- even at the risk of losing his seat.

On CNN's "State of the Union" last weekend, host John King presented Democratic Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet with a yes-or-no question: "If you get to the final point and you are a critical vote for health care reform and every piece of evidence tells you . . . you will lose your job, would you cast the vote and lose your job?"

Like Joan of Arc facing the burning pillar -- "may Obama so keep me" -- a valiant Bennet, undeterred by the gruesome prospect of returning to a life of undeserved appointments and a real job, answered, plainly: "Yes."

posted by Eric on 11.22.09 at 06:37 PM


You are absolutely, 100 percent, unequivocally right, but ...

I see both of this argument. You want the bill to fail, but if it's going to pass anyway (and the Dems have the votes to pass it), you might want the least awful bill possible to pass. There's no easy answers ... other than voting against the final bill.

Rhodium Heart   ·  November 22, 2009 11:36 PM

You need to revise/update your list. Salazar is no longer Senator, but Bennett is. Salazar is now in BO's cabinet. His brother is in the House. Living in CO I find it hard to believe that any Dem Senator from CO is a Blue Dog. More like Lap Dog.

LYNNDH   ·  November 23, 2009 12:43 AM

I think your analysis is close, I count 13 of the 16 Democratic senators that are up for election next year as TOAST. If you look at the states, they are not that democratic in most cases, or the folks there are being crucified by demorcratic tax, regulate, spend policies..i.e. no jobs (vz. WA, OR, NY ) the simplest way to unseat these democraps is to simply point out that they voted for a health care system they exempted themselves from. End of story...while they consider themselves elitist (the democrats are the rich lawyers party), they can not defend the fact that they wish to subject the citizens of their states to a terrible health care arrangment that they exempted themselves arguement they can make holds water...their opponents need only point this out...they are not representing the people of their state ...they are representing themselves...the case is closed...the mere fact that they would subject their state's citizens to this level of stress and uncertainty when 1 of 7 are losing their jobs and homes (likely to go much higher) again demonstrates beyond any question that they do not care about the citizens...only themselves...what the republicans or conservaties need to do is run strong conservative candidates and they will win...for what it is worth I predice 120+ democrats will be voted out of the house and 12-13 out of the Senate. Why? The thinking people are SCARED TO DEATH by this whole big government thing, the only way the public can protect itself is to put conservative republicans in charge of Congress until the ONE is removed 2 years later.

John   ·  November 23, 2009 9:53 AM

It's what the Democrats did. Republicans don't want abortion? ok take it out, they don't want the public option? take it out. Leave the far far worse stuff in, but since we caved on their two biggest issues, they have less to complain about.

Republicans are playing right into the socialists' hands, probably because most Republicans in office are socialists as well. They aren't opposed to nationalizing health care in PRINCIPLE, they are opposed for getting votes, or for practical reasons, all of which could be overcome with enough donations to their campaigns.

plutosdad   ·  November 23, 2009 10:31 AM

What LYNNDH said.

Money quote: The thinking people are SCARED TO DEATH by this whole big government thing, the only way the public can protect itself is to put conservative republicans in charge of Congress until the ONE is removed 2 years later.


Charlotte   ·  November 23, 2009 11:04 AM

Should that be Specter (D-PA)?

He switched parties (from Republican to Democrat) earlier this year and may not clear the primaries let alone get reelcted.

joated   ·  November 23, 2009 8:37 PM

Well, the abortion issue splits the Democrats, so it's a factor that may cause the bill to fail. There are Democrats who won't vote for the bill with abortion funding included and Democrats who won't vote for it with abortion funding excluded.

As a practical matter this increases the political cost of the bill. Either way you have to add extra goodies to the bill to buy off one Democratic faction or the other. But those extra goodies come with their own political cost, and require additional political payoffs. Soon you are over your political budget - and since that is the only kind of budget these guys can reliably calculate the bill will fail.

I think the bill is already hopelessly over political budget and the Democratic leadership is desperately searching for a way to bring it in without losing their political shirts.

Tom DeGisi

Tom DeGisi   ·  November 24, 2009 9:12 PM

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