Friday, November 23, 2012

More Dems Versus Better Dems

There are two schools of thought on how to recover the Speaker of the House position for the Democrats:  one says that we need to have the numbers first and then get real liberal legislation passed as a result of mass, the other says we have to have true liberals in the House first to build a power base and then the numbers will flow from there.  The first has the advantage of short term gains that can lead to longer ones but at the risk of a GOP backlash, the latter means a longer time in control but requires more time to come to power, and perhaps never coming to power until the Republicans have made it impossible to do so.

One of the key House Dems in the "More Dems versus Better Dems" argument right now is Patrick Murphy, the Florida businessman who beat out the repugnant Allen West.  Howie Klein over at Down With Tyranny reminds us that Patrick Murphy is at best a Blue Dog, and at worst, a full-blown Republican.  Coming from Kentucky (where our last Congressional Democrat, Blue Dog Ben Chandler, was roundly defeated) I can certainly relate:

I was more than a little shocked when Keith Ellison, one of the most progressive stalwarts in the House, endorsed Patrick Murphy. Murphy, a rich spoiled brat, a Romney donor, and a lifelong Republican who just switched parties, had exactly one thing going for him (aside from his father's personal attack PAC): he ran against hated war criminal Allen West. Many Members of Congress were especially eager to see West defeated-- and not just because he's a loudmouthed teabagger. Alan Grayson argued that there was no one else in the House like West because West is a war criminal. His presence brought a sense of infamy on the whole joint. Most progressives agree with Grayson on that one but they didn't rush to endorse Murphy. New Dems and other corrupt conservatives with blue t-shirts did. Ellison, of course, had an even more personal grudge against West, who isn't just a raving McCarthyite but is also a vicious Islamophobe who hate personally baited Ellison. I had never talked with Ellison when he called me to tell me his thoughts on why he had endorsed Murphy; that was also our last conversation (at least so far).

One thing Ellison said that I liked-- and liked a lot-- was an indication that he would take Murphy under his wing and help him understand the progressive prospective. It's a shame he can't time travel back to when Murphy was 5 or 6 years old... but it's worth a try. And he needs to get started quickly. Yesterday MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell asked Murphy a typically loaded Villager kind of question: "How much are you willing to cut entitlements if you get the tax increases you want?" Could you imagine anything like that coming out of Rachel Maddow's mouth? And Murphy's response-- well just the exact New Dem line: "Everything should be on the table." Boehner's gonna love this boy! And Ellison better get busy.

Democrats retook the House in 2006 because of Blue Dogs.  The response 4 years later was the Tea Party, and now in 2012, the Blue Dogs have almost all been replaced with Tea Party whackaloons.  The problem is with district gerrymandered they way they are, the choices for a lot of liberals who live in red districts are Allen West vs Patrick Murphy, Tea Party vs Blue Dog.

Is one really better than the other?  I'd rather have a dozen Patrick Murphys than any Allen Wests...but voters certainly didn't think so in 2010.

We'll see.  Keep an eye on Patrick.

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