Henry Waxman Will Spit On The Political Graves Of Defeated Blue Dogs
When I saw Barney Frank (D-MA) at a meeting of progressive activists here in L.A. a few months ago he was sitting in for local Democratic Party hero Henry Waxman, who couldn't make it. I was happy, not just because I like Barney personally, but because I've never trusted Waxman all that much after he voted to give Bush the green light to go ahead and attack Iraq. Anyway, Barney gave a great speech about how progressives need to use the weapon of primaries against faithless Democrats who vote with Republicans. I was really happy to hear it. Yesterday, in an interview with Russell Berman and Molly Hooper for The Hill, Waxman was even more explicit than Barney! Although he is confident that Democrats will retain the majority in the House, he'll be happy to see the last of a pack of cowardly Boehner Boys. Waxman is very clear he won't miss any of the Blue Dogs who have turned off the Democratic base with their reactionary behavior.
“I think a lot of the House seats we’re going to lose are those who have been the toughest for the Democrats to pull into line-- the Democrats that have been the most difficult,” Waxman said.
Waxman, one of the Democratic Party’s stalwarts, is simply voicing publicly what many in his party have said privately as the reality of the looming November elections sets in. If Democrats retain a majority, it will be smaller but more cohesive.
As Waxman sees it, the fractious coalition of Democrats that House leaders have cobbled together to pass sweeping healthcare and energy bills is not markedly different from the bipartisanship of the past, when Democrats partnered with centrist and liberal Republicans, whom Waxman says are “practically nonexistent at the moment.”
“We’ve been trying to get the Democratic conservatives together with the rest of the Democratic Party, so in effect we’ve gotten bipartisan support among Democrats in the House,” the chairman said with a laugh. “Now we’ll have to work on genuine bipartisanship in the future.”
For much of the early part of his career, the liberal Waxman battled conservative Democrats from the South on the direction of the party. Years later, Waxman is still waging that fight, but now he wields the gavel of one of the most powerful panels in Congress. Waxman became chairman after successfully challenging Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the former chairman, in 2008.
Waxman has rewarded loyalty to the Democratic agenda through his leadership political action committee, L.A. PAC. Each of the 14 donations of $5,000 the committee made after the final healthcare vote in March went to Democrats who voted yes.
A single contribution of a lesser amount, $3,000, was sent in April to Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho), one of the party’s most vulnerable members, who voted against the bill. In January, Waxman gave $10,000 to Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio), a month after he voted for the initial House version of healthcare reform. Two months later, Space voted against the final bill.
Democratic conservatives serve little purpose for Waxman, who seemed to relish the thought that a strengthened GOP would mean that the minority party would have to play ball.
“With the increased Republican margins, they won’t be able to act as if they have no responsibilities. I think they are going to be called on to be accountable … so that may produce opportunities for bipartisanship,” Waxman said.
Keep an eye on Blue America's BadDogs page as we help make Waxman's dreams come true.