The Myth of the Moderate Democrat – by Dick Morris


Don’t assume that the 38 Democrats who voted against Nancy Pelosi’s extremist version of health care reform wouldn’t have supported it if their votes had been needed. The days before the final passage on Saturday were not filled with stirring appeals to get Democrats to back the bill so much as an auction to decide whom to let off the hook.

Knowing that the bill will likely be political suicide for any red state Democratic congressman, particularly if he is a freshman, the House leadership had to negotiate with its members to assure that the 38 defectors were the ones who needed political cover the most. That there would be 38 Democrats who would oppose the bill was preordained. Who they would be was the subject of negotiations right up to the wire.

Any real chance that the bill could have been defeated ended with the approval of the anti-abortion amendment. But there still remained the question of how to keep the marginal Democrats in Congress and the party in power.

The chicanery and deception that led up to the vote underscores the myth of the moderate Democrat. The entire Democratic caucus — with pitifully few exceptions — was committed to passing the health care bill. Had it needed all 258 Democrats to vote yes, the bill would have come awfully close.

But the Democratic margin in the House meant that the leaders did not need 258 Democrats, they only needed 219. So they let the most marginal among them off the hook, allowed them to vote against the bill, preserving their chances at re-election.

The real question facing the voters is whether they will be deceived by this sleight of hand in which moderate Democrats pretend that the bill was passed over their objections. Will the voters buy their claims that it became law despite their best efforts?

Once, the voters might have fallen for this trickery.

But not now. The electorate is far too well informed to believe that any Democratic congressman really opposed this bill.

The days of the Democrats who live in red states and who let this bill pass — whether they nominally voted for it or not — are numbered and their political careers are about to come to an end. They could not and would not read the handwriting on the walls of New Jersey and Virginia, and are about to suffer the fate of their ancestors in 1994 who disregarded similar warnings.

In the Senate, where 60 votes are needed, there can be no such shell games. All Democrats must report for duty for this bill to pass. So Sens. Lieberman, Bayh, Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Conrad, Dorgan, Tester, Baucus, Johnson and Hagan have a serious decision to make. They have no place to hide.

And should Harry Reid invoke the reconciliation option, he would face other defections from Democrats who realize that they, too, might one day be in the minority and need the filibuster to maintain their relevance in the future.

For now, all Democrats should compare the results in Virginia and New Jersey in 1993 and in 2009.

In Virginia, in both years, an incumbent Democrat sat in the state house but was not permitted to run again. In both years, the Republican won the governorship by identical 58 percent to 41 percent margins.

In New Jersey, in both years, the incumbent Democratic governor sought another term and lost. In 1993, by 49 percent to 48 percent and in 2009 by 49 percent to 45 percent.

If any Democratic congressman is naive enough to believe that a debacle in 2010 will not follow the forecasts of 2009 as surely as the deluge of 1994 followed the precursor of 1993, he doesn’t deserve to be in Congress. And he won’t be.

  • davarino

    tick tock tick tock….. : ) I cant wait.

  • Robert Wargas

    Republican Revolution II

  • USMCSniper

    Do you have a time bomb strapped to you or are you the alligator from Peter Pan?

  • USMCSniper

    The Republicans still have no leadership or program and they require the equivalent of the 1994 Newt Gingrich as a leader and the Contract with America in 2010 or you can pack it in until 2016. Just bad mouthing the traitorous Democrats wn't make it as they are getting ready to cut and run and betray Afghanistan just like they did to Vietnam.

  • davecatbone

    Look to Southwest Ohio as the bellwether. Steve Driehaus ran as a fiscal conservative, voted yes on the stimulus, yes on tarp, and yes on the healthcare bill without reading any of them. Conservative Steve Chabot is running to regain his seat in 2010. This will speak volumes about America's future.

  • Bellerophon

    “Had it needed all 258 Democrats to vote yes, the bill would have come awfully close.”

    Thanks for stating the bleeding obvious. What you didn't say was that if the bill required 300 votes there would have been 42 Republicans voting for it.

    There is only one party, the Big Government party. Politicians use the same focus groups, the same political advisers and the same polls. When the Democrats are in power the Republicans are the phony opposition. When the Republicans are in power the same is true of the Democrats.

    The goal is total government and both sides work to increase government power in different areas. The Democrats work to control the economy and the Republicans work to control the culture but both work to destroy liberty. Neither Bush nor Obama did anything to increase liberty nor will any other establishment Republican or Democrat.

    What Morris said of Democrats is true of the entire one party political system. We don't need another Contract with America, we need a second party.

  • moptop

    No difference really, the crocodile from Peter Pan followed Captain Hook relentlessly, after biting off his hand ('09) and getting a taste of blood. Why do I get the feeling you are a concern troll? Maybe the next post down. Thank you for your concern.

  • Carterthewriter

    Likewise in southeastern Ohio, Representative Zack Space followed the orders Nancy handed him, while hiding from his constituents.

  • CowboyUp

    Good post, but I misread it and got an idea that may have occurred to you as well.

    “The Republicans still have no leadership program.” The training lower level and local Republicans to be more effective leaders (they are always getting snookered by the dp), and more knowlegable about conservative principles and basic thought (they could use that all the way up the line). The military has excellent leadership programs, civilian political leaders should get some kind of formal or semi-formal training.

  • Walt

    Ross Perot tried that, and you got Bill Clinton for 8 years. You could vote for the Libertarians in 2012, but then you would just get Barack Obama again, by splitting his opposition. Third parties are almost always spoilers in the United States. At least the people in New Jersey saw this, and stayed away from Mr. Daggett.

  • Bellerophon

    What part of “There is only one party” didn't you understand?

    Whether you vote Democrat or Republican you get a big government candidate.

    By the way, if you think that Clinton was worse than GHW Bush then I suggest that you look at Bush's increasing deficits and Clinton's decreasing deficits. Clinton was better than either Bush as far as budgetary matters were concerned. The reason why he cut spending wasn't because he was a small government Democrat.

    Clinton never recovered from the beating his wife took over her fascist health care system. The Republicans gave him a second chance to increase the government by running big government Dole and then deliberately crippling Dole's campaign. Clinton continually vetoed Republican pork spending in the hope that it would force Republicans out of office when their constituents didn't get any goodies from the government. His strategy failed so the Republican wing took over and put Big Government Bush into office. He succeeded beyond their wildest dreams with the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D.

    Barack Obama will win in 2012 if the conservatives and libertarians stay home again because the Republican wing runs some big government schmuck like Romney.

    However, if there is no Republican wing in 2012 then Obama would have to face a real small government candidate from a real second party.

  • godhelpourcountry

    This was so calculated. They need to get these people re-elected and they voted according to ORDERS, I would bet on it! What games they play.They know how UNPOPULAR this was and they “saved as many as they could!” DO NOT VOTE FOR THESE PEOPLE, IT'S A CON.

  • Agibrown

    I am glad Illinois is cleaning up its act. I hope we can do the same in Brooklyn. I should note that Democrats USUALLY reject their corrupt members according the their own drugs list. Republicans EMBRACE their most corrupt members, and that has been part of their downfall.