Hall of the Blue Dog

I probably shouldn't have watched chef Anthony Bourdain whip up his cod-sperm crème anglaise and sheep-testicle soufflé so close to bedtime because my dreams that night were  certainly bizarre. But I had stayed up late to see the victories in NY- 9 and Nevada.

Anyway, right after Bourdain's  demonstration, I dreamed I was at a fancy dinner at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum 's Dinosaur Hall and navigating my way through the Cretaceous dinosaurs to the Fossil Hall 's anteroom to check my coat.  I accidentally opened the wrong door and that leads to today's big scoop: There's a secret hall they are adding to record the passing of moderate Democrats from the American political scene and remind museum goers who these people were and what they represented.

The mockup sign on the exhibit was Hall of the Blue Dog And Moderate Democrats, those Democrats once known for their moderate and often rational views  and now known for the speed with which they can pack up and leave D.C.   I saw lots of familiar faces in the mock up of the planned diorama: Jane Harman, who left Congress after Nancy Pelosi denied her the committee chairmanship to which she was best qualified and had earned through years of service, Joseph Lieberman, the party's once vice presidential nominee, run out of the party because of his views on the war in Iraq by backers of a president who  then added to that war an escalation of the war in Afghanistan and a "kinetic military action" in Libya.  The light was dim and I could barely see Evan Bayh but he left the Senate when it was clear he had no chance for higher office in the party as it's presently constituted. There were lots of names and faces on the wall.  After all, in 2010 members of Congress' Blue Dog coalition lost half its seats to Republicans, either because they were defeated or because they dropped out of the race as it became obvious they'd lose.  At the moment in the House there are only 25 of them. Of these two have announced their retirement.

One of those museum hands working on the Hall had posted a notice to leave lots more room for new names and faces, tacking it to an NRCC report issued after Tuesday's election that 50 Democrat-Held House seats could be competitive in 2012, according to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

 THE REALITY: "Mr. Israel just a few months ago had expressed hope that the Democrats could move to take back control of the House; now his party appears to be facing a challenge defending seats it already holds." - New York Times, 09/14/11

THE DEMOCRAT SPIN: "'It's a very difficult district for Democrats,' said Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, noting its Democratic margins there tend to be the second lowest of all the districts in New York City." - 
Wall Street Journal, 09/14/11

50 MORE "DIFFICULT" DISTRICTS: If Debbie Wasserman Schultz is right, and this New York City seat is a difficult district for Democrats, what does that say about Democrat hopes in the more than 50 seats that are similar to or worse for them than New York 9?

NY-9 PVI = D+5

All right. I suppose the NRCC is being overly optimistic, but the Hall should be filled

To the brim after the next election.

The Democrats threw their all into the pot hoping to save NY-9, a seat  they held since 1923, and which was once represented by Chuck Schumer and Geraldine Ferraro and they got nowhere, even with a 3-1 registration advantage. As Mickey Kaus noted even the old standby claim that the Republicans would throw granny off the cliff (Social Security ) was unavailing.

It's not that Israel and gay marriage emerged as medium sized "wedge issues" (translation: issues) that drove some Democrats in a quirky district heavily populated by Orthodox Jews to vote for Republican Bob Turner. Few other districts look like NY-9. ....

It's the possibility that the Democrats favorite issue--Social Security--didn't work to save them because Obama, too, has embraced cutting Social Security and Medicare in "some undefined 'everything on the table' entitlement reform," as Weigel puts it. Could it be that the differences between Obama's Medicare cuts and GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare cuts-differences that seem so significant to policy analysts in Washington (and to me)-don't have much salience in the crude argumentation of direct-mail electioneering? Now that's scary for a Dem. After decades of pledging not to touch the two sacred programs, it's beginning to look as if Democrats can't just suddenly agree to pull trillions out of Social Security and Medicare and expect voters to maintain their reflexive loyalties.

I do think that Obama's position on Israel was significant and obvious even though party hacks tried to distort it.

It's  just that even a Jewish Democrat like Rep. Henry Waxman cannot open his mouth without offending Jewish voters:

California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, a prominent Jewish congressman, explained that some Jews are selecting not to vote for Democrats because "they want to protect their wealth, which is why a lot of well-off voters vote for Republicans."

In this regard  he matches the leader of his party who this week hit a new low in Jewish voter support: four out of ten of whom disapprove of him according to Gallup. His support among this small but influential group of votes continues to sink.

Obama's approval rating among Jewish Americans is also down to 55 percent - a five point drop from his approval rating in June, which stood at 60 percent.

Together, the rise in disapproval and dip in approval ratings are a net negative 11 point downturn for Obama among Jews.

Aside from plunking themselves into gerrymandered districts  from which they will be hard to dislodge and from which they exercise unwarranted and disastrous power in their party, what can you say about people who consistently say such dumb things as these:

Rep. Maxine Waters:

"We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Frank Raines."

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (B.A. Yale, J.D. Univ of Va.) :

...victory had been achieved" by the United States in Vietnam. She went on to state, "Today, we have two Vietnams; side-by-side, North and South, exchanging and working. We may not agree with all that North Vietnam is doing, but they are living in peace. I would look for a better human rights record for North Vietnam, but they are living side by side. Because that was a civil war, and because the leadership of this nation did not listen to the mothers and fathers who beared...bore the burden of 58,000 dead and did not declare victory; the mounting deaths; the violence continued going up and up, rather than understanding the political nature of the war in Vietnam, we did not listen to those families." And:

 All those who wore sheets a long time ago have now lifted them off and started wearing [applause], uh, clothing, uh, with a name, say, I am part of the tea party.

Otherwise, just dumb luck can explain some Democrat office holders like Senator Barbara Boxer:

Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, "Thank God, I'm still alive." But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again.

How bad is it for surviving Democrats?

Well I expect some will follow the lead of Senator Joe Manchin from a fairly conservative state -- West Virginia -- and will bash the President and his policies. Maybe it'll work.  In the last election Manchin was able to persuade the coal mining families in his state that Obama didn't mean it when he promised to close down the coal industry.  If they fell for that lie, and aren't angry to see their jobs vanish as a result, they might believe anything and forgive him everything.

But nothing seems a sure bet any more .Both Senator Feinstein and Obama are  losing ground in the very blue state of California.

A new Field Poll just released this morning brings news that California's Sen. Dianne Feinstein is -- how can we put this in a liberal kind of way? -- approved by 41% of voters who want to see her reelected next year.

Unfortunately for her, more voters (fully 44%) disapprove of her continued employment in the U.S. Senate after 2012.

In blue California that makes for about a magnitude 5.2 quake.

The same poll finds that only 41% approve of Feinstein's job in Washington, while 39% disapprove.

That 41 approval number is the lowest the former mayor has ever had in her 20 years of no longer really living in California.

Another recent Field Poll showed many Californians are falling out of love with the teleprompter guy from Chicago. His California approval has slid below 50% for the first time ever, down to 46%.

Maybe I didn't dream up that Blue Dog Hall after all.

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