Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Conservative by Any Other Name...

Remember this moment; this is when many on the left, especially the nutroots, reached the sad realization that many of the "Democrats" elected to Congress last year aren't really Democrats at all. Exhibit one: Pennsylvania Congressman Chris Carney, a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve and a former Pentagon adviser, announced this weekend that he would back Chuck Hagel for president and criticized Hillary Clinton. The nutroots are not happy; one blog calls Carney "A Democrat gone bad, really bad" and asks whether he is worse than Joe Lieberman.

The blogger points out what Republicans were saying about the freshman congressmen since the 2006 election: "On substantive matters Hagel and Carney have very similar voting records: extreme right." He quotes a news story with Carney's reaction to the nutroots:
The group's Blue America PAC that raised $545,000 for progressive candidates wants Carney to refund $8,210 raised for him.

Carney denied misleading the group and said it was naïve on their part to think he would vote 100 percent in sync with their views.
Let's be clear. Many of the Congressional candidates who won in 2006 as Democrats entered the race as Democrats for one reason: Iraq. Once in, some lifelong Republicans (like Jim Webb) also picked up on some economic populism issues that they may have believed strongly in, but which alone would never have convinced them to switch parties. (Once in though, they weren't really elected because of Iraq, which only came in fourth in the exit polls as the issue most influencing public votes, behind corruption, terrorism and economic issues and only one point ahead of moral values. So when these candidates entered the race as Democrats based on their opposition to the war, they were swept to power based on opposition to Republicans on a range of issues, from corruption to spending to Iraq.) They weren't Democrats, and that the nutroots actually believed they were was always somewhat amusing. Now the honeymoon is over, and they realized they don't have much in common - divorce is imminent.

Part of the brilliance of Rahm Emmanuel, Chuck Schumer and Howard Dean's 2006 victory was supposedly that Democrats wanted someone who could win, and didn't make them pass a litmus test. The nutroots signed on to this strategy with enthusiasm, as Jim Webb was one of the most fortunate recipients of the nutroots' love. Suddenly, as Democrats begin admitting that the surge is making progress and other Democrats start endorsing conservative Republicans for president (and let's be honest, Hagel is a conservative, no matter how much we may disagree with his foreign policy and positions on Iraq), the idea of a litmus test is suddenly looking good to the nutroots.


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