You've seen the news if you're following the cringes, spasms, and writhing of the much diminished U.S. House Democratic Caucus. Heath Shuler, one of the Last of the Blue Dogs, declared that he'll challenge Nancy Pelosi for his and her party's Minority Leader post.
Shuler, who ain't no dumb jock, knows full well that his chances of knocking off Pelosi for the Minority Leadership job are slim to none. For Shuler, the announcement that he'll try to tackle Madam Pelosi at the goal line is all about grandstanding.
The North Carolina Congressman finds himself in a Democratic Caucus that was wrenched further left -- if that's possible -- thanks to the elections. Elections that saw many-a-Blue Dog lugged off the field on stretchers.
With the elections and loss of half of the Blue Dog contingent, Congressmen Heath Shuler, Dan Boren, and Larry Kissell, among others, no longer can hide behind the pretense that the Democratic Party is in any way hospitable to conservatives or "centrists," as they're inclined to call themselves.
Shuler's play for Minority Leader is an attempt to prove to his voters that he's not "one of those" Pelosi Democrats or acolytes. But for Shuler's district voters -- and voters in the other remaining Blue Dog districts -- there are more interesting and convincing tests, to wit:
When January rolls around, for whom will Shuler cast his ballot for speaker -- John Boehner or Nancy Pelosi? Or will Shuler weasel-out by abstaining? How about Shuler's Blue Dog buddies?
And how will Shuler vote on a repeal of ObamaCare? How will he vote on every major piece of Republican legislation that is sure to invite opposition by the decidedly liberal Democratic Caucus?
And to save his seat, if Shuler is willing to buck his party to vote for John Boehner, and if he's willing to vote with Republicans on major legislation, then why is Heath Shuler a Democrat? Or why is an isolated Heath Shuler representing conservative western North Carolinians in Congress? Why not a conservative Republican who isn't so conflicted and so flailing?
Lots of questions. Probably too many to Heath Shuler's liking. Regardless, thanks to the GOP taking many of the governorships and legislatures in states where Blue Dogs reside, there's a good chance that Heath Shuler and his Blue Dog companions will be redistricted out of jobs -- or drawn into districts that require them to fight for their political lives.
Most Hail Mary passes never make it to receivers. Heath Shuler and the Blue Dogs are about to learn that lesson again.