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Flatiron Hot! News | January 11, 2018

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Blue Dog Democrats’ Imperil Themselves, Liberal Agenda With Obamacare Sabotage

Blue Dog Democrats’ Imperil Themselves, Liberal Agenda With Obamacare Sabotage
Eric Shapiro

The Republican Party may be easy to hate, but there is perhaps no lower political life form than a Blue Dog Democrat. Actual dogs are loyal, brave, predictable and enjoy pissing all over the place to mark their territory. Blue Dogs, in contrast, are disloyal, cowardly, unpredictable and have a tendency to shit all over the Democratic Party. With a series of misguided attempts at self-preservation, the Blue Dogs have already inflicted great damage on themselves and the Democratic Party’s progressive agenda. They claim that political necessity forces them to adopt more moderate positions in order to stay in office. While it would be unfair to expect relatively conservative states to yield Elizabeth Warrens and Barney Franks, this is no excuse to abandon liberal priorities at the first sign of danger. For one thing, doing so prevents a Democratic Party already hampered by GOP abuse of the filibuster and unprecedented obstruction of everything from widely supported legislation to routine judicial and executive nominees. Despite the so-called GOP Civil War, the differences between the “moderate” and conservative wings of the Republican Party are largely a matter of strategy. For example, is it better to force a government shutdown unless the Democrats make substantial concessions on Obamacare, or is it better to play the long game and chip away at it piece by piece? Nevertheless, when it comes to fundamental goals – repealing Obamacare, protecting the interests of the 1% and sabotaging President Obama – the Republican Party is in agreement.

GOP Civil War –

The Democratic Party can claim no such unity, largely because Blue Dog Democrats are inclined to jump ship when their party needs them the most. In 2009, their opposition forced Obama and congressional leaders to whittle away at the Affordable Care Act. Passing a public option may have been a steep climb to begin with, but the Blue Dogs’ opposition made it impossible. In spite of their efforts, conservative Democrats were demolished in the 2010 midterm elections. One might have assumed that, moving forward, they would have abandoned their misguided approach and rallied around the centerpiece of their party’s agenda. Alas, after supporting Obamacare for a few years when it was easy, Blue Dogs have succumbed to old, destructive habits following the law’s bumpy rollout. They have even gone so far as to introduce legislation aimed at dismantling some of the Affordable Care Act’s vital components. Most notably, Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) introduced a bill that would allow individuals to keep sub-par plans indefinitely, thwarting Obamacare’s attempt to improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans by imposing higher standards on insurance companies. Instead, in a harsh rebuke of President Obama, many Blue Dogs joined Republicans in voting for a similar bill in the House. These actions have served to exacerbate a PR disaster that has threatened the credibility of the Democratic Party. Republicans can now brag that even some Democrats have seen Obamacare for the “train wreck” it is.

Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) –

The issue is not so much that any changes to Obamacare are, by definition, wrong. Like all ambitious programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, it has proven necessary to make alterations and improvements over time. Far from inflexible, the Obama Administration has instituted many fixes, including one very similar to Mary Landrieu’s legislation. Just today, the Obama Administration extended the deadline for small businesses to sign up for the Affordable Care Act by one year. If Blue Dogs want to help Obamacare work better, they should work with Kathleen Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services, giving input and suggestions aimed at improving a law that they invested so much political capital in passing. The Blue Dogs’ failure to do so and insistence on airing the party’s dirty laundry for an already-skeptical public to see suggested that they are more interested in making a political statement than offering constructive feedback. Once again, the Blue Dogs hope that their cynical posturing will secure the votes of independents in 2014. Once again, they are woefully wrong. If anything, their strategy is even less likely to succeed now than in 2010.

Blue Dog Democrats –

Even accepting the dubious notion that independents and moderate Democrats have irrevocably turned against Obamacare, it is unlikely that bucking the administration at this late stage will salvage their reputations. Voters frustrated with Obamacare are not likely to forget that their congressmen have supported the program since its passage in 2009. Far from coming across as bold and bipartisan, the Blue Dogs will look weak, unprincipled, and dismissive of voters’ intelligence. There is perhaps no one more reviled in American politics than the flip-flopper; if John Kerry and Hillary Clinton couldn’t get away with changing their positions on the Iraq War, what makes Blue Dogs think it will work out for them? Their best course of action is to take the long view and help maintain a unified front. Americans who don’t yet fully comprehend a complicated program will not have faith in the Affordable Care Act if the politicians who put it together don’t have faith in it. Its failure will not just discredit progressive legislation for a generation; it will also result in their own political downfall, beginning with the 2014 midterm elections.


  1. . . . Instead, in a harsh rebuke of President Obama, many Blue Dogs joined Republicans in voting for a similar bill in the House. [This is taken directly from your text].
    • You refer to [Blue Dog] House members, however, rather than cite any of them by name you reference instead La. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
    – While it is correct to call her out, IMO, it doesn’t let the reader know who the [Blue Dog] House members are in this context.
    • I think that since the House “holds the purse strings” this is quite important for the reader to understand & unfortunately, we just don’t know whether or not they do or don’t. I ran into a problem here. The link did not open, even after repeated attempts pasting into my browser, refreshing the page & even trying it a different browser.

    – Simultaneously, I wonder if the reader will take the additional time & energy to go to the link or not.
    • The other link did open & lost my interest fairly quickly – way too long.

    – What I prefer is placing a list of all of my sources at the end of each column, essay, or article.
    – For example: blah, blah, blah . . . end of text . . .

    • The Associated Press
    • Bloomberg
    • The N.Y. Times
    • Huffington Post
    • Ezra Klein @ The Wash Post
    • D.N.C.C.
    • US House of Representatives Congressional Record
    . . . Okay, I know you get the idea. This is just one application. Another is using footnotes & either type of mechanics allows the reader to go to the additional info at their leisure.
    Is the article too long? Vitally important as you know, (& in fact mentioned this uncertainty yourself). My answer is threefold – One is that clearly you know your audience best. Secondly, it is unnecessarily wordy & you’ve got a tendency to repeat yourself. Third, insofar as attracting new readers, (whether they gravitate to you from twitter or any other venue), generally, readers of the blogosphere have the attention span of a millisecond!
    What seems to work best is what is commonly called “Red Meat” Your headline is crucial & you run the risk of losing them right then & there. So, the rule of thumb, even if a bit personally distasteful in the same manner in which tabloid journalism is – you must have a headline “GRABBER!” Tossing in an occasional “barb” is something that readers like, it creates a “brand” & in the best tradition of my number one favorite Empress of Snarky herself, I always recommend study of the style Ms. Maureen Dowd of the NY Times.
    – These are no more than my observations & the opinion of one man only. I speak for no one but me.
    I think it’s far less about what’s right or wrong – rather what will enable you to reach your goal.
    • Lastly, publications like The New Yorker & Rolling Stone do lengthy pieces regularly, it’s in their DNA; they have loyal readers looking for in-depth coverage & analysis,
    . . . do you?

    Hope 1 or 2 things helps you in some small way, I’m not an expert, just some guy who’s been doing this shit for a long time.