First—huzzah!—there were the 100+ inspired by the Congressional Black Caucus to walk out of the chambers rather than give the resolution any respect whatsoever. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Whip Steny Hoyer were among those who left rather than cast their votes. It's a rare, rare day that such a move is justified. But today was one of those. Because, what the Republicans did was unprecedented, unconscionable, unpardonable and unhinged. The Democrats filing out the doors were precisely the rebuke deserved by the representatives who plunked that outrageous resolution into the hopper.
Then there were the 65 Democrats who voted against the resolution. That, of course, under normal circumstances, would have been the appropriate choice. Shoot down the resolution or, at least, stand unified against whatever nonsense or worse that the GOP had cooked up to impose on us.
But it was clear when the Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the contempt resolution last week which direction the wind would blow. No way would this not pass. And no way would its passage get any traction when sent to the federal prosecutor. Such matters expire with the end of the Congress that okays them and this one is going to be on a slow six-month track to nowhere. Which the Republicans knew full well from the get-go.
In other words, it was all theater. Even more than usual. The walkout, though a principled move, was counter-theater. Treating the vote seriously, respectfully, by participating, even with a "nay," was useless and stupid. Especially given that the House leadership not only gave Democrats the stamp of approval for joining the walkout, they themselves boycotted the vote. Think of the imagery, the headlines, if those Democrats who stayed at their desks to push the "nay" button had added their numbers to the power of solidarity. Since their votes could not change the outcome anyway, what was their rationale for sticking it out? What statement were they making? Was it simple laziness? Did they decide to show solidarity with the two Republicans who broke from the jackal pack to oppose the resolution? Whatever the case, they went astray.
Finally, there were the 17 Democratic "aye" votes. What a fine crew that is. Our plague. Yes, yes, they are mostly in reddish districts and more liberal candidates could never get elected there, so we have to put up with them because better they than a Republican, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Even if one agrees that Blue Dogs and their ilk are the price of a Big Tent party, what good are they when they can't be counted upon to have the backs of fellow Democrats under a rancid assault whose only foundation is raw partisanship?
What good are they if they won't stand up against even the most extreme efforts of the National Rifle Association? That organization's grip on gun policy in Arizona and elsewhere lubricates the trafficking of tens of thousands of firearms into Mexico and makes the job of interdicting this lethal flow next to impossible. An organization whose string-pulling and budget-obstructing has frustrated the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives so much that it led to experiments like "Fast and Furious" in the first place.
These 17 Democrats didn't just suck up to the NRA. They didn't just turn their backs on colleagues. They provided the GOP the okay to say that even-some-Democrats agree Eric Holder is involved in a cover-up of a program that led to the death of a brave U.S. Border Patrol agent. By unspoken implication, of course, Obama is also involved. Providing Republicans with that kind of campaign ammo goes waaaay beyond any apologies that can be made for trying to make oneself a viable incumbent Democrat in a reddish district. Being that kind of turncoat screws other Democrats by helping to mobilize the nut-jobs to turn out in greater numbers at the polls.
Despicable, pathetic, myopic.
Every Democratic Rep. who voted for the contempt resolution should be a target for replacement in the coming years until they've all been retired. If they cannot be counted on to stand with fellow Democrats on a matter of principle so fundamental, how exactly is it that they fit in the Big Tent?
The roster of 17 (asterisk indicates a Blue Dog):
Jason Altmire (PA-04, lost primary in PA-12) *
John Barrow (GA-12) *
Dan Boren (OK-02, retiring) *
Leonard Boswell (IA-03) *
Ben Chandler (KY-06) *
Mark Critz (PA-12)
Joe Donnelly (IN-02, running for IN-Sen) *
Kathy Hochul (NY-26)
Ron Kind (WI-03)
Larry Kissell (NC-08) *
Jim Matheson (UT-02, running in UT-04) *
Mike McIntyre (NC-07) *
Bill Owens (NY-23, running in NY-21)
Collin Peterson (MN-07) *
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Mike Ross (AR-04, retiring) *
Tim Walz (MN-01)