Monday, October 31, 2011

Why Is The DCCC So Infatuated With Blue Dogs?


The Dave Lutrin post Saturday morning provoked a lot of e-mail, though much of it, suspiciously, in defense of the tangentially maligned Majority Group. I suspect the e-mails were some kind of lame coordinated effort to... I'm not sure what. Persuade me that Blue Dogs are the bomb? I suspect they were penned by someone or a few someones who haven't spent much time reading DWT or following our sometimes successful efforts to defeat Blue Dogs. Some of the e-mails were apparently written by a member of former congressional staffer Rob Ellsworth's family. "You're an asshole," he reminded me. "You're not fit to kiss the hem of Rob's pants." I would have hoped for the hem of Rob's magisterial robs but I'm not certain what sort of outfits founders of conservative consulting firms wear to work. "You're a fucking pissant blogger, asshole, and probably live in your parents basement and never had a job in your life or worked as a waiter," was one of my favorite run-on sentences-- though there were so many. I admit I have worked as a waiter and I'm happy to say those years-- in Amsterdam-- helped make me the person I am today. You learn a lot about people waiting tables-- and about yourself. Just ask acclaimed author Barbara Ehrenreich or Montana state Rep. Franke Wilmer-- the progressive congressional candidate from Big Sky Country we've endorsed-- both of whom used what they gained from their years waiting on tables to make the world a better place.

I have to admit that when I wrote the original post I mixed up Rob Ellsworth with another conservative schmuck, Brad Ellsworth, an Indiana shithead who served two undistinguished terms as a dreadfully reactionary Indiana congressman before running for an open U.S. Senate seat and losing miserably to lazy, bumbling corporate hack and corrupt lobbyist Dan Coats with barely 40% of the vote. So who, exactly is the fabulous Rob Ellsworth the defense of whose honor launched so many angry e-mails in my direction? Well, even that came from an e-mail inspired by the original post. This one, though, was from a regular correspondent, Jack from Jersey. He politely pointed out my mistake and reminded me that although Brad Ellsworth was a congressional crony of The Majority Group's co-founder and fellow Blue Dog Walt Minnick, Rob was just a staffer. But what a staffer!

Now keep in mind that this is where the DCCC schlepped congressional recruits visiting DC last week. And what were they exposing them to? Well, the best thing anyone can say about Rob Ellsworth is that he has a 4-year old English bulldog named Reese. It's all downhill from there:
Rob Ellsworth has advised 3 Republican committee chairmen and 2 Democratic members of Congress in every capacity from intern to Chief of Staff. His extensive relationships in both political parties, experience during multiple crises in our country, and understanding of the cross-section between politics, policy and procedure make him a leading expert and trusted voice on Capitol Hill.

Most recently, Mr. Ellsworth served as the top aide to U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID) becoming one of the youngest Chiefs of Staff in congressional history. He was the Congressman’s liaison to the White House, federal agencies, Idaho’s governor and Congressional delegation. Mr. Ellsworth also served as Rep. Minnick’s Legislative Director tasked with developing and implementing his policy agenda and providing final vote recommendations. Mr. Ellsworth oversaw Rep. Minnick’s priorities as a member of the House Financial Services Committee and played a key role in drafting various sections and amendments in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Ellsworth drafted changes to the OTC derivatives language, regulatory structure and oversight, credit risk retention for loan originators, mortgage reform, and a bipartisan 12-member amendment to the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

[Let me butt in here for a second to assure you that several Democratic members of the House Financial Servies Committee have told me, independently of each other, that having Minnick on the committee was tantamount to giving the banksters and the Republicans another vote-- and a voice inside the Democratic caucus, a voice he always used to water down every single proposal to protect consumers from Wall Street predators. I guess, at least in part, we owe that gallant work to Rob.]

Mr. Ellsworth previously served as Senior Legislative Assistant to the current Chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, Congressman Heath Shuler (D-NC). He oversaw the Congressman’s legislative portfolio as a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure and Natural Resources committees in addition to financial services, energy, agriculture, immigration, ethics, tax, trade, and housing policy. He assisted the Congressman and his team in securing $24.3 million for 34 infrastructure projects in Western North Carolina and was critical in three of the Congressman’s legislative initiatives and multiple amendments reaching former President Bush’s desk. Additionally, he was the architect of a major immigration proposal that garnered national attention with grassroots and media organizations and support from over 200 Members of the House and a dozen Senators. He participated in immigration policy and port security discussions at the British Parliament and with U.S. Congressional and Administration officials while brokering compromise, mutually acceptable legislation.

Mr. Ellsworth also served as professional staff on the Committee on House Administration for Chairman Robert W. Ney (R-OH) [and apparently escaped without being charged with any crimes] and Chairman Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI). He was appointed Project Manager for the 2006 New Member Orientation program and transition for the 52 Member freshman class of the 110th Congress. He also served in the Office of Member Services assisting all Congressmen and staff members with ethics, campaign finance, election and lobbying rules. Prior to his work on the Committee, Ellsworth began working in Congress for the current Speaker of the House, Congressman John Boehner (R-OH), when he was chairman of the Eduation and Workforce committee. Mr. Ellsworth assisted Congressman Boehner in his personal office and committee office, and also worked on his re-election campaign in Westchester, Ohio. Mr. Ellsworth has worked on a total of 14 political campaigns for city, county, state and federal candidates from both political parties.

And in case you're thinking, "This is a bipartisan outfit and Ellison is more the Republican and Minnick is the Democratic end..." Well... Minnick was elected to the House as a Democrat (for one miserable term), although he rarely voted as one. An extreme right Blue Dog, Minnick's heart was never in being a Democrat. He worked as an assistant in the Nixon White House and then in Nixon's War on Drugs. After he resigned from Nixon's administration late in 1973 as a result of the Saturday Night Massacre, he doggedly called himself an independent from then on. He was later recruited by DLC reactionary Bob Kerrey (NE)-- the Ben Nelson of his day-- to run against GOP closet case Larry Craig in 1996. Idaho's Democratic governor, Cecil Andrus, talked him out of running as an Independent and he ran as a Democrat instead, winning almost 40% of the vote. When he won his House seat in 2008, he beat the hated incumbent, Bill Sali 50.61- 49.39%. After 2 years of consistently voting with the Republicans the voters tossed him out (51-41%) and traded him in for out-and-out teabagger Raul Labrador-- at which point Minnick founded his own lobbying firm with Ellison, where he's getting plenty of love from the DCCC.

This is what the DCCC brought their recruits to meet, and not as an example of what to avoid. Have you ever donated to the DCCC? If so, go sit in the corner for thirty minutes and do 200 Pater Nosters and 200 Hail Marys. (Optional, if you really want to make up for your sins: here.)

Labels: , ,


At 7:43 AM, Anonymous Lee said...


A lot of regular people who don't come here but vote straight Democratic don't know what a bunch of gas bags the DCCC are. My own Congresswomen who is mostly useless is involved with recruiting and was kveling about her recruitment on her FB and the few comments ( except mine) were all you go girl type comments. Its Alyson Schwartz fyi if you want to check it out.

Progressives here have been wanting to get rid of her for years. In fact Josh Shapiro who is running for County Commissioner would love her to run for the Senate so he could run for her House Seat.

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous me said...

You can tell a lot about a person by who calls them an asshole. You seem to have gained the right kind of enemies. Congrats, and keep it up!


At 6:45 PM, Anonymous me said...

Speaking of making the right kind of enemies, here's a guy who knew how to do it:

Too bad our current president doesn't have this kind of guts.

At 3:34 AM, Anonymous Plus15 said...

The term "Blue Dog" is confusing even to regular Democrats. Their right-wing bias and fear of the GOP is unclear because of the use of the word "Blue"in this context.
It should have been retitle quite a while ago.

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Maybe something more productive...? said...

I loved the mention of your "sometimes successful efforts to unseat Blue Dogs." The link takes you to a page describing how you helped beat former Blue Dog Rep. Bobby Bright of Alabama's 5th district. Your definition of success is pretty warped.

I would get it if you had mobilized people to vote for a more progressive candidate who beat Bright in a primary. But that's not what happened. Bright was booted because his district was more conservative than he was. So how exactly did you help with that process? Do you have the ear of AL-5's conservative voters and did you convince them all to go out and vote?

Also, why would you call this a victory? If your "efforts" in this race affected the election in the slightest or were even noticed (both of which I doubt), you didn't defeat got Republican Martha Roby elected and gave Republicans the most control they've had in the Alabama delegation in over 100 years. Great job!!! You think Cap and Trade would have passed the House without a few Blue Dogs like Heath Shuler to vote for it? You think we would have gotten the Health Care bill without Brad Ellsworth and 27 other Blue Dogs who voted for it? Have you enjoyed the super-progressive agenda that the Republicans have pushed in the House since you "successfully" kicked out all the Blue Dogs and gave Boehner the gavel? Bravo! You should be so proud since things are so much better now that our bills never even have a chance to come up in one of the two chambers and instead we're having anti-regulatory bonfires and Solyndra witch hunts. Thanks for all you "did" in the last election cycle!

As a Democrat and someone who strives to be reasonable and thoughtful, I don't think your work is benefiting the party or, more importantly, the country. If you want somebody more progressive than Bobby Bright or other Blue Dogs (which I want too), it doesn't help to go after the members. If they vote the way you want them to, they get booted. Not by you or your lame political efforts, but by their conservative constituents. If you really want more progressive members in these districts, you should be gearing your work toward building progressive ideals among voters in conservative districts. Now THAT would actually be effective.

At 5:52 AM, Anonymous me said...

I for one, if forced to have a republican "represent" me, would rather have one who at least has the decency to call himself a republican, rather than one who calls himself a Democrat.

So getting rid of Blue Dogs is a worthwhile endeavor, regardless who replaces them.


Post a Comment

<< Home