Friday, November 06, 2009

Moveon's war on Democratic moderates

While we pause from the wall-to-wall coverage of the "war within the Republican Party," we can pause to notice that there is a little internecine conflict over on the left. Byron York reports that Moveon.org has raised money to target Democratic moderates. They should acknowledge what the Republicans are starting to learn. Certain districts aren't ideologically one way or the other. The only way a candidate will win there is to play to the middle. Just as the Republicans should accept a Mike Castle in Delaware or a Mark Kirk in Illinois as the best they can do to win in those states, the liberals have to accept their moderates or they can kiss their majorities good-bye.

The other goal of the Moveon'ers is to strip Democratic moderates of their Senate chairmanships.
And now, working in conjunction with Howard Dean's old organization Democracy for America, MoveOn is starting a drive to take away the committee chairmanships of any Democrat who fails to live up to MoveOn's progressive standards. "Many of these senators hold coveted committee chairmanships that give them significant power within the Senate," Ruben writes. "Our friends at Democracy for America have launched an open letter urging Senate Democrats to strip committee chairmanships from any Democrat who filibusters health care." Ruben says that more than 66,000 MoveOn and Democracy for America members have pledged to contribute.

"Chairing a committee is a privilege, not a right," Ruben continues. "So if a member of the Democratic Congress joins with Republicans in the most important vote in a generation, then they certainly don't deserve a position of power controlled by Democrats."
I predict that the leftists will have just as much luck at doing that as conservative Republicans had in trying to remove a Republican like Mark Hatfield from his Senate chairmanship after the 1994 takeover. There was a push to remove him from his chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee after he voted against the balanced budget amendment, thus sinking it. Rick Santorum led that movement. But then the caucus went behind closed doors and Mark Hatfield emerged with his chairmanship intact. I predict the same thing will happen behind closed doors of the Democratic caucus. When it comes down to it, respect for seniority will trump any desire to enforce ideological purity. Senators will start to wonder what will happen to their positions if they strike down the old rules. Robert Byrd will totter up and make a passionate speech evoking the sacred rules of the Senate and caucus and the move will die.

But, by all means, let's have Moveon.org get out there and run ads attacking their own members and running primary challenges. We'll see if the media regards that with as much simulated dismay as they regarded the move to push out Dede Scozzafava.