Tuesday, July 10, 2007



Maybe McCain was jet-lagged from his latest publicity stunt stroll through a Baghdad marketplace on the eve of the Senate debate on Iraq. Perhaps that's why he fought with his staff and either fired them all or caused them all to quit his moribund campaign (for president... of the United States). He stood up on the Senate floor and displayed for the entire body why Bush's #1 bootlick has become the least relevent man in the chamber, the member no one-- except for the equally despised Lieberman and his own Mini-Me (R-SC)-- even listens to any longer.

Apparently unwilling to accept the reality that his now departed campaign staff has told him-- that the American people overwhelmingly favor an end to the occupation of Iraq-- McCain was yelling and screaming about "the liberal left" betraying the country. Apparently that includes extremely conservative Ohio Senator George Voinovich who McCain publicly screached at and threatened, demonstrating the temper and nastiness that has consistently made him the most disliked senator on both sides of the aisle.

Aside from McCain's hissy fit, I only got bits and pieces of what went down in the Senate today. The main event was Jim Webb's amendment (co-sponsored by Chuck Hagel) to restore the military to pre-Bush levels of strength by requiring every soldier who is deployed overseas to receive at least the same amount of rest when they return home. The "support the troops (but not really)" crowd has declared that they will never allow it to come to a vote. And the leader of that effort, as usual, is Cheney's main dawg in the U.S. Senate, Joe Lieberman, who accused Webb of being anti-troops (a Rovian talking point that no longer works) and, in Lieberman's typical McCarthyite manner, attempting to legislate an American defeat. How do you filibuster the Webb amendment and then try to tell people you support the troops? Even a Republican voter will see through that. "I don't know where Lieberman gets his opinions about how well we're doing," said Webb. Lieberman, of course, gets his opinions directly from Cheney, just like McCain and Graham do. Silly.

Probably the most telling exchange of the day came from Missouri's pathetic rubber stamp Senator Christopher Bond. He's had his mind on trying to get a job as a university president-- he was rejected-- so he hasn't paid much attention to Senate business lately and apparently he was confused today and wound up attacking Bush's policies instead of defending them as he had planned. He said "The strategy we had before was not the right strategy. We should have had a counterinsurgency strategy." And when asked who was to blame he couldn't think of anything else to say other than, "Ultimately, obviously, the president."

Meanwhile over in the House, Pelosi is getting very serious and just announced the Responsible Redeployment for Iraq Act, which will be on the House floor later this week. It calls for carefully staged redeployment of U.S. troops within 120 days and complete redeployment by April 1, 2008 (date certain). It includes some new twists that haven't been in the previous bills. I hope she isn't counting on Doolittle to support this. He won't. It includes a sense-of-the-Congress paragraph that claims they passed the Authorization of Force on October 10, 2002 under the auspices of defending the U.S. from a heinous dictator/government/state that no longer exists and the current government of Iraq poses no threat to us-- so, essentially, we're no longer operating under that authorization. If the bill passes Bush will have to publicly report a strategy and report on the implementation of it every 3 months. And it says Bush has to come to Congress if he wants to keep any American troops in Iraq and explain why. Here's the whole proposal; seems very reasonable.

But I doubt Pelosi will get far with it. I had a call today from a DCCC solicitor. Poor guy. I asked him why I should give money to a party that will then funnel it to reactionaries like John Barrow who always vote with the Republicans on crucial matters-- like Iraq. He asked me who John Barrow is. I should have suggested he read an excellent article that Greg Giroux wrote for CQPolitics today in which he thoroughly documents the Democrats who most frequently vote with the GOP in the House. His dirty dozen doesn't include anyone you haven't heard about at DWT but his Inside the Beltway perspective is very much worth reading. (The number in the parenthesis is the member's party unity score.)
1. Gene Taylor, Mississippi’s 4th District (69.2 percent). Long one of the most conservative House Democrats, Taylor has dominated his heavily conservative district in southern Mississippi-- a territory that the Republicans have not seriously contested in years.

2 (tie). Heath Shuler, North Carolina’s 11th (73.8 percent). Shuler has the most contrarian record among House Democratic freshmen. Democratic strategists will not mind this, given that he last year defeated eight-term Republican Rep. Charles H. Taylor in a strongly conservative western North Carolina district.

2 (tie). John Barrow, Georgia’s 12th (73.8 percent). Barrow was re-elected by just 864 votes last year over Republican challenger Max Burns, a former one-term congressman whom Barrow defeated in 2004. The 12th District’s lines were altered, and the Democratic margin in the district reduced, in a mid-decade redistricting crafted by the Republican-controlled state legislature between the 2004 and 2006 elections.

4. Jim Marshall, Georgia’s 8th (74.0 percent). Like Barrow, Marshall also narrowly avoided defeat in 2006 in a redistricting-altered district. Unlike Barrow, Marshall represents a strongly conservative-leaning district and already has a serious opponent for 2008: Rick Goddard, a retired Air Force Major General.

5. Jim Matheson, Utah’s 2nd (75.1 percent). Matheson’s district gave Bush two-thirds of its votes in the 2004 presidential election, though the 22 percentage point victory margin for center-right Democrat Matheson in 2006 will complicate Republican recruitment efforts.

6. Jason Altmire, Pennsylvania’s 4th (75.7 percent). Altmire was an upset winner in 2006 over three-term Republican Rep. Melissa A. Hart, who has not ruled out a comeback attempt in 2008 in a district that includes suburbs of Pittsburgh and which is socially conservative and economically populist.
Also considering a House bid is Lynn Swann, the former Pittsburgh Steelers football great who was the Republican nominee for governor last year: Though Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell won an overall landslide, Swann finished narrowly ahead in the 4th District. Ron Francis, a former county commissioner, already is running for the Republican nomination.

7. Joe Donnelly, Indiana’s 2nd (75.8 percent). Donnelly, a social-issues conservative, defeated two-term Republican Rep. Chris Chocola in a north-central Indiana district that includes South Bend and part of Kokomo. Republican Luke Puckett has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to prepare a 2008 campaign.

8. Dan Boren, Oklahoma’s 2nd (76.2 percent). Boren-- a son of David L. Boren, a former Oklahoma governor and senator-- dominated in his two elections in Oklahoma’s “Little Dixie” district, which is conservative-leaning but ancestrally very Democratic.

9. Brad Ellsworth, Indiana’s 8th (77.3 percent). Ellsworth, who trounced Republican Rep. John Hostettler in 2006, represents a southwestern Indiana district that is strongly conservative-leaning: Of the 39 House Democrats who were first elected in 2006-- three former members also won last year-- Ellsworth represents a district that backed Bush in 2004 more strongly than any other (with 62 percent of the vote). So far, though, no Republican candidate has filed to challenge Ellsworth, who has bucked Democratic leaders by taking conservative stands on embryonic stem cell research.

10. Nick Lampson, Texas’ 22nd (78.6 percent). Lampson’s 79 percent party unity score is lower than any score he amassed during his previous House tenure (1997 through 2004), when he represented a district that was Democratic-leaning. His scores during his past House tour ranged from 82 percent to 88 percent. The political leanings of Texas’ 22nd, which takes in suburbs of Houston and part of the city, guarantee a difficult re-election campaign for Lampson-- who was elected in 2006 to succeed Republican Tom DeLay, the resigned former House majority leader.
Lampson has gotten some early breaks for 2008, though: Several Republicans who had been considering a run-- including Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace, long considered a prospective House candidate-- decided against running. One confirmed Republican candidate is Shelley Sekula Gibbs, who won a special election last November to fill the remainder of DeLay’s term in the 109th Congress-- but on the same day lost a write-in campaign to Lampson for the full term in the 110th.

11. Christopher Carney, Pennsylvania’s 10th (81.4 percent). Carney has one of the more Republican-leaning districts among first-term Democrats, and was greatly aided in 2006 by the fact that Republican incumbent Don Sherwood was badly damaged by a sex scandal. There is a long list of potential GOP candidates, though Democrats took note recently that the Republican field will not include U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Marino-- a top prospect who recently said that he will not challenge Carney.

12. Melissa Bean, Illinois’ 8th (81.8 percent). Bean narrowly defeated investment banker David McSweeney to win a second term last year in a historically Republican-leaning district that takes in suburbs northwest of Chicago. Bean in May was one of 13 House Democrats who voted against a party-crafted budget resolution.

Giroux lets Barrow off too easily. The district, even after the gerrymander, is still reliably Democratic and Barrow's biggest problem isn't that he doesn't appeal to enough Republicans but that he can't inspire Democrats and moderates to vote for him, since, in effect, he's just a Republican anyway. Other Democrats on his list of the most disloyal included Zack Space (OH), Patrick Murphy (PA-08), Harry Mitchell (AZ-05), Tim Mahoney (FL-16), Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08), Baron Hill (IN-09), Nancy Boyda (KS-02), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-20). It will be interesting to watch how they all vote on the Responsible Redeployment for Iraq Act.

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At 1:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw, leave the poor DCCC solicitors alone, Howie. Not a fair fight at all!


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