Insight. Antics.

Blue Dog Blues.

In Politics on July 29, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Blue from Blue's Clues

I have a bunch of friends who say they are Republicans because they are fiscally conservative, but don’t agree with the GOP on social issues.  Perhaps they should re-affiliate with the Blue Dogs, because that is precisely what they are: fiscally restrained, socially liberal.

These days being a Blue Dog is a big deal.  Suddenly, 15 years after their creation, they are the most influential part of the political spectrum.  As a coalition of what media outlets often label “moderate Democrats” in the House of Representatives, they are having a tremendous impact on what legislation comes to pass in Congress.  Chief among these is health care reform.  It’s not as simple as all Democrats jumping on board and voting in a bloc.  Only Republicans know how to do that.

As written in The Hill yesterday, “The fate of the House health care proposal rested in the hands of the Blue Dogs on Tuesday morning as the coalition review[s] the health care compromise offered Monday night by Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA.).”

Later in the day, Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN) said this speaking for Blue Dogs: “We’re not ready to support a bill yet. We’ll get there. We are going to pass a health care bill, whether it’s now or in the fall remains to be seen.”  Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) added, “I think there’s still a bit of daylight between the positions. I think the bottom line of Blue Dogs has not been met as of this time.”

Thus, today they have swayed party leaders to hold off on a full House vote until after the August recess.

Can they just get something done?  Why can’t they be more like Blue from Blue’s Clues?  Blue is so much more productive and upbeat.  Plus she solves mysteries.

The theme song says, “When we use our minds and take a step at a time, we can do anything… that we wanna do!”  Somehow I don’t think Congress works this way.

Blue from Old School

Instead, it feels like something else is at play with the Blue Dogs, but nobody is outright calling it what it is.

They act like a different party.  They talk like a different party.  They vote like a different party.  Perhaps, they are a party?

Is this the actual rise of third party politics in America?  Pundits have suggested that further-left Democrats would split off into a new party.  Who knew that a third party might sprout up the middle instead?

Is this so far-fetched?  After all, diverging factions tend to lead to parties.

Grover

(By the way, Grover is a blue dog right?  Maybe I just think he is a dog because his name sounds like rover.)

So, who and how many are the Blue Dogs?  They’re 51 strong.  Take a look at this list posted from their website, with a few comments added:

Blue Dog Members

Altmire, Jason (PA-04)

Arcuri, Mike (NY-24) – Victim of ludicrously inaccurate campaign ad

Baca, Joe (CA-43)

Barrow, John (GA-12)

Berry, Marion (AR-01) – If only he were Marion Barry

Bishop, Sanford (GA-02)

Boren, Dan (OK-02)

Boswell, Leonard (IA-03)

Boyd, Allen (FL-02)

Bright, Bobby (AL-02)

Cardoza, Dennis (CA-18)

Carney, Christopher (PA-10)

Chandler, Ben (KY-06)

Childers, Travis (MS-01)

Cooper, Jim (TN-05)

Costa, Jim (CA-20)

Cuellar, Henry (TX-28)

Dahlkemper, Kathy (PA-03)

Davis, Lincoln (TN-04)

Donnelly, Joe (IN-02)

Ellsworth, Brad (IN-08)

Giffords, Gabrielle (AZ-08)

Gordon, Bart (TN-06)

Griffith, Parker (AL-05)

Harman, Jane (CA-36)

Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie (SD)

Hill, Baron (IN-09)

Holden, Tim (PA-17)

Kratovil, Jr., Frank (MD-01)

McIntyre, Mike (NC-07)

Marshall, Jim (GA-03)

Matheson, Jim (UT-02)

Melancon, Charlie (LA-03)

Michaud, Mike (ME-02)

Minnick, Walt (ID-01)

Mitchell, Harry (AZ-05)

Moore, Dennis (KS-03)

Murphy, Patrick (PA-08) – First Iraq War veteran in Congress

Nye, Glenn (VA-02) – Seemingly unrelated to The Science Guy

Peterson, Collin (MN-07)

Pomeroy, Earl (ND)

Ross, Mike (AR-04)

Salazar, John (CO-03) – Older brother to the Secretary of the Interior

Sanchez, Loretta (CA-47)

Schiff, Adam (CA-29)

Scott, David (GA-13)

Shuler, Heath (NC-11)

Space, Zack (OH-18)

Tanner, John (TN-08)

Taylor, Gene (MS-04)

Thompson, Mike (CA-01)

Wilson, Charles (OH-06) – Not the cool Charles Wilson, he’s retired

Earlier this year, a few Senate Democrats announced they were forming a coalition similar to the Blue Dogs for that upper house.  At the time, an anonymous Democratic senator said to Roll Call, “Once you decide to be part of a bloc that is completely dislocated from the main [Democratic] caucus interests, you’ve not only separated yourself, you’ve also burned a lot of bridges.”  That may be.

Nonetheless, if you throw together 51 Representatives with the 15 Senators (yes, even those Republicans) I’ve listed below and remind yourself that they are in the all-important center, you’ve got yourself something:

Max Baucus (D-MT)

Evan Bayh (D-IN)

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Tom Carper (D-DE)

Susan Collins (R-ME)

Kent Conrad (D-ND)

Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

Joe Lieberman (ID-CT)

Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)

Ben Nelson (D-NE)

Mark Pryor (D-AR) – Provided enlightened thoughts to Bill Maher

Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

Mark Warner (D-VA)

Ron Wyden (D-OR)

That’s 66 people: 12% of Congress before you’ve even really tried to recruit members.  At that point, they only need 33% to be on level ground with the other parties.

(Note: In my original publishing right here there was an image of George Rodrigue’s “Washington Blue Dog.”  I’ve complied with a cease-and-desist request and removed it without issue.  Take a second to Google it though, it’s quite apt.)

Why not consider formalizing it?  The downside is that they would be a minority, but the media bonanza upside would be astronomical.  It would truly be a game-changer that would alter the political landscape.  At a time when those two terms are bandied about too casually, this would be the real deal.

Although Blue Dog sounds cooler than Bull Moose, maybe they want to rename themselves (Unionists perhaps?)  Either way, it feels like a party to me.

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