I have zero desire to “unite” behind any Blue Dog

This is two posts in one — the post I need to write, and the post I was trying to write.

An explanation — the post I need to write

The position of vice-chair of the House Democratic Caucus — the fifth-ranking position in caucus leadership — was, up until the time of this writing (late Wednesday Nov. 28), contested.

The contestants: CA progressive Barbara Lee and corrupt New Dem Joe Crowley (see Howie Klein below for that explanation). The battle: Progressive vs. New Dem (aka Blue Dog Clintonista) for control of the last caucus leadership position. Time to define what Dems as a caucus stand for? Yep, a real test of the whole caucus.

Well, just now (the day before the vote was to have taken place), Lee dropped out.


Cong. Barbara Lee

Cong. Barbara Lee

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that she is dropping her leadership bid in what would’ve been the only contested race among House Democrats.

This means Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) [former vice-chair of the New Dem Caucus]  is a sure bet to become the next vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, the fifth-ranking post in leadership. …

Lee, a former chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she was withdrawing her bid in order to “unify” lawmakers around Crowley.

You can read on, but the rest of the explanation is just words. You can choose to be dazzled by them or not.

Progressive are divided in how to read this. (Please note, I’m not divided at all; I don’t want a party-first progressive coalition.)

▪ One group says, Lee is a good progressive (truly, she has performed well), she took a whip count of the caucus votes, found she didn’t have the votes, and withdrew.

▪ The other group says that yet one more progressive challenges the New Dem (Blue Dog, Rubinite NeoLiberal) stranglehold on Dem caucus leadership, then gives up in a show of “collegiality” without forcing anything so unseemly as a vote that reveals the strength of that wicked stranglehold. This is what I mean about “collegiality”:

Lee, a former chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she was withdrawing her bid in order to “unify” lawmakers around Crowley.

Saving Dem faces. To which I might easily say:

Dear Ms. Lee,

Do you not understand that this is not my goal, nor the goal of any progressive — to unite House Dems behind the Blue Dogs (New Dems, Rubinesquitos, corporate whores)? We want to un-unite the Dems behind such leaders. And we don’t want to make the caucus comfortable — we want to make them uncomfortable in their unity behind such people. We want them to vote; we want the whores to declare their allegiance.

Dear Ms. Lee, you’re telling me that you now want the opposite of what I want — and what a great many other progressives also want.

What am I to make of that? If you didn’t want to fight, don’t run. I get that — it saves ammo for battles you can win. But if you were going to play patty-cake all along (or “Alphonse and Gaston”), don’t gin up the natives (us supporters and people like Howie Klein below) to go to all out for you. Tell us up front you were going to cave if it wasn’t a gimme.

Because now I feel like one off the rubes, and not in a good way.


So that’s the post I need to write. Ugh, no matter how you slice it.

The post I was trying to write

Below is the post I was trying to write, pre the news. The following is intact, from almost an hour ago, before Barbara Lee  said, in effect, “please support Crowley after all.” Read on, but remember, this is pre-surrender. Still, there’s much good background on Crowley and Pelosi in this, including why caving to Crowley is particularly bad for progressives.

My surrender-preempted post — please note the Pelosi part:

The Crowley vs. Lee battle for the Dem House leadership position will tell the future of the party. Blue Dog/New Dem/corporate shill Joe Crowley is facing off against progressive Barbara Lee for the position of caucus vice-chair, one of the top leadership positions in the Democratic Party.

The election is Thursday (today). Watch it carefully. If Lee is defeated, you’ll know two things:

1. The New Dem–minded caucus members now control the Congressional Democratic Caucus.

2. Nancy Pelosi has surrendered the last ounce of “liberal” brand-legitimacy she has and is fully complicit (see below). “NewDem Nancy” — has an accurate ring to it.

Does bowing to power make her do it? Does NewDem–mindedness cause this? Who cares? Deeds, madam. You paint yourself with your deeds.

And these deeds are clear. Howie Klein at DownWithTyranny, who sounds like he’s kind of had it (my emphases):

Urgent Congressional Election This Thursday

There’s a crucial and defining election coming up tomorrow [Thursday] but unless you’ve been reading DWT you probably don’t know about it. I’d be in a state of shock if any of the MSNBC anchors mention it, even Rachel. It’s part of the concerted move by the New Dem Coalition– a corporately funded conglomeration of economically conservative anti-family Democratic sell-outs— to take over every aspect of the House Democratic Caucus. And they appear to be winning. Tomorrow the main event is a caucus vote to pick the next vice chair of the [Democratic] Caucus.

In the year House Democrats are bragging how women and minorities are a majority of their caucus, progressive icon Barbara Lee, beloved and respected by both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, should be a show-in. But she’s the decided underdog to one of the most corrupt men to sit in Congress in any of our lifetimes, Queens County Democratic boss and Wall Street/K Street whore, Joe Crowley, until last week, chairman of the New Dems.

If Lee is the very best of what Democrats have to offer– she is– Crowley is the very worst. He stands for nothing at all but naked power and systemic corruption. … [Read to learn why; stunning stuff]

So that’s what’s at stake.

Nancy Pelosi’s role

Now for Ms. Liberal SanFran’s role in this. Klein again:

One of my friends in the caucus tells me [Pelosi is] already paying special deference to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Crowley as the next generation of House leadership. “They’re given precedence over even the most senior committee ranking members these days,” my friend groused.

And later in his article:

Crowley, as you could probably guess, is part of the Steny Hoyer Team. Recently a Democratic congressman predicted that if Hoyer becomes Speaker “he will run every bill by K Street and nothing will ever happen.” Well, Rachel and Lawrence and Big Ed may be missing it, but this faction is sealing it’s control of the congressional Democrats on Thursday, Pelosi smiling benignly from the sidelines.

According to Klein, Nancy Pelosi is presiding actively over the NewDem-ification (NeoLiberal-ization, BlueDog-transformation) of the next-round House Democratic party.

Complicit. “NewDem Nancy” indeed. Say it loud and often, then point to Klein’s article to back yourself up in discussion. You won’t be wrong.

How to help out

[Deleted. Lee caved, bailed, and wants me to be pleased for the other side, so I’m taking this out, including the part about thanking Ms. Lee by donating to her next election.]

So there you go.

What to make of this?

First, that progressives are divided about Barbara Lee’s action, because she has been so good on many other things. Many say let it go, this leader-race is small potatoes. (Answer to that — re-read Klein above and decide for yourself.)

Second, this looks and feels awful, whether it’s smart on her part or not. One more Democrat’s early cave — remember the woman who slapped Wisconsin recall candidate Tom Barrett for conceding before all votes were counted? And that classic statement above deserves another walk of shame:

Lee, a former chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she was withdrawing her bid in order to “unify” lawmakers around Crowley.

No real progressive wants this “unity” — we want division and a battle for control. Either that, or we don’t want you coming around for money to do stuff like this. We’re getting nowhere with this “collegiality.” Remember, we in the cheap seats are not in this DC club. All those collegiality bennies are yours, not ours. We want a fight, since we’re the ones taking the risks.

Finally, go back to the Pelosi part above — I made it big and bold for easy finding. Again, according to Klein:

[Pelosi is] already paying special deference to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Crowley as the next generation of House leadership. “They’re given precedence over even the most senior committee ranking members these days,” my friend groused.

Which means that Pelosi is One of Them. Period. She is not your friend, whatever she calls herself.

What to do

First, make up your mind about Ms. Lee. The comments to this post will probably detail the much good she’s done — I hear her praised constantly.

Second, you might let her office know what your reaction is — you like her attempt, you dislike the withdrawal, you dislike the statement of unity; whatever. A lot of people have gotten worked up about this election (Klein’s not alone), and even if it’s lesser potatoes, it’s potatoes that got a lot of attention, and some of us spent some cycles on the issue.

So I think she’d benefit from hearing from you, just so she’s not insulated from the masses on this. To that end, here are two pieces of data — remember, be polite but clear:

Twitter: @RepBarbaraLee
DC office: 202-225-2661

 If you do call or otherwise get an answer, please let us know in the comments what that is. Thanks.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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