Liberals start eating their own
The Democratic majority was only three weeks old, but by Jan. 26, the grass-roots and Net-roots activists of the party's left wing had already settled on their new enemy: Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.), the outspoken chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition.There is more. This story demonstrates what a short memory liberals have. It was the moderates that gave them a majority in the house to begin with. The party wisely shose moderates to run against Republicans in conservative leaning districts in order to flip the house. If they are going to start tearing down existing moderates, it is going to be difficult for the party to recruit others to run. MoveOn has been wrong about the war from the beginning and it insist that everyone drink the same cool aid.
Progressive blogs -- including two new ones, Ellen Tauscher Weekly and Dump Ellen Tauscher -- were bashing her as a traitor to her party. A new liberal political action committee had just named her its "Worst Offender." And in Tauscher's East Bay district office that day in January, eight MoveOn.org activists were accusing her of helping President Bush send more troops to Iraq.
Helping? Jennifer Barton, the lawmaker's district director, played them a DVD of Tauscher blasting the increase as an awful idea in a floor speech eight days earlier.
"The words are fine and good, but we are looking for leadership," scoffed Susan Schaller, one of the activists.
Leadership? Barton showed them the eight golden shovels Tauscher had received for bringing transportation projects to her suburban district, along with numerous awards she had won for her work protecting children, wetlands, affordable housing and abortion rights.
"That's fine and good," Schaller repeated, "but this is about Iraq."
The anti-Tauscher backlash illustrates how the Democratic takeover has energized and emboldened the party's liberal base, ratcheting up the pressure on the party's moderates. That pressure is also reaching House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a San Francisco liberal who recognizes that moderate voters helped sweep Democrats into the majority. Pelosi has clashed with Tauscher in the past, but she's now eager to hold together her diverse caucus and to avoid the mistakes of GOP leaders who routinely ignored their moderates.