Monday, December 05, 2011

Courting Conservatives

Yesterday, I drew attention to the statement of Reagan and World War II historian Craig Shirley "There really aren't any conservative Democrats anywhere and there really are very few liberal Republicans anymore." Judging by their actions, I argued, there are very few, if any, liberal or even moderate Republicans in Congress but a few conservative Democrats.

That would have been better substantiated if posted today, when we learn from Manu Raju and John Bresnahan of Politico

The White House and top Senate Democratic leaders are quietly mounting a pressure campaign to keep Sen. Ben Nelson from retiring, fearing their majority will be in greater peril if the two-term Nebraskan decides to quit.

In back-channel discussions, private meetings over Chinese food and in conversations on the Senate floor, party leaders have been regularly checking in with the conservative Democrat to talk to him about the race, assuring him that not only would he have greater influence and seniority in another term, but the Democratic machine will fully engage in his race if he runs again....

Democrats find themselves in an intense courtship with one of the least loyal members of their caucus — Nelson is a perennial swing voter who frustrates his leaders by often refusing to take sides on key bills until the last minute. But keeping the majority is far more important for Democrats than fealty to the party, which is why Nelson has become the center of attention.

Elsewhere in the article, the reporters describe Nelson as a "moderate," though if Ben Nelson is a moderate, Barack Obama really is a socialist. Digby notes the GOP is "engaged in hand-to-hand political combat" while "Democrats are still fighting the last war, moving their useless Maginot Line ever backwards to the point where having the majority translates into slightly less kooky conservative policies than what we'd have with the Republicans."

Politico, which has become a virtual arm of the political Establishment, appears to applaud the party for emphasizing "keeping the majority" over "fealty to the party." It is fair to ask, however, what constitutes fealty to a party led by Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer eager to assume the position toward Wall Street For nearly the past three years, it really has been less fealty to party than disregard and distaste for principle.

Next Up: Barack Obama, Commander-in-Chief

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