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ObamaCare And The Irrational Behavior Of Incumbents

Kim posted below on Andy McCarthy's article at The Corner. I had prepared earlier a post on the same subject with a different take, so herewith on the issue of irrational behavior and political self interest.

Will moderate Democrats obey Speaker Pelosi's orders to charge into the breach while she tells them she is right behind them? Not a chance. I've made this point here before so I guess it's time to double down. At the end of the day most if not all politicians do what is in their self interest. Why? Because that is what people do in their careers and that is what they do with their own money. To suggest otherwise is ludicrous. The ObamaCare reconciliation gambit is a bet wagered by safely ensconced liberal power brokers like Speaker Pelosi, who would forget the names of moderate Democrats thrown out of office in the 2010 mid terms in a heartbeat. However, these moderates are wise to this folly and that is why reconciliation will fail.

Would a vote against ObamaCare by these moderates save their jobs? No, it will not. But this is where the interesting dynamic of self preservation and self interest goes to work. The moderate Democrats in the House and more than a few in the Senate are the political equivalent of dead men walking. Their fate was sealed in 2009 when voters understood the full measure of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid policy agenda. They are engaged now in a process of political survival which necessarily includes anticipating a run for political office after the debacle that will be the 2010 midterms. These moderate Democrats are political animals that will not abandon en masse their proclivity for power (Republicans are no different).

Prepare for six weeks of bluster and harrumphing by the power elite in Congress, then watch the little people in the Democratic Caucus vote with their own pocketbooks and try to save their careers and any future they might have in national politics. Speaker Pelosi, safe in her San Francisco district, is estranged not only from an electorate that is energized but also from moderates in her own Party. She is manifesting the same characteristics and symptoms of failed Congressional leaders past like Jim Wright, Tom Foley and Tom Daschle. The difference this time is about fifty Democratic moderates that cling to some hope of a future after the 2010 elections. They will not willingly end their own careers as Speaker Pelosi is asking them to do.


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Comments (18)

Have to agree with you Hugh... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Have to agree with you Hugh. Self-preservation is an over-riding instinct. Getting a hack job on some government commission is not the same as serving in the House or Senate. Come election time, those Democrats who voted AGAINST ObamaCare are going to beat the drum back home. Yeah, it might piss off their homies in the party, but the independent numbers are beginning to mean more than those of either party. Pelosi hasn't had to deal with reality for years. She's safely ensconced with the backing of the liberals at home, and backed by the moneyed limo liberals in wine country.

excellent analysis...and (I... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

excellent analysis...and (I pray) spot on!

Still EVERY House member that even THINKS about not voting with Queen Pelosi had better not have so much as an unpaid parking ticket in their past...and/or a family member that ISN'T living in an undislosed bunker. The Obama/Reid/Piglosi Troika WANTS this...and they will do anything to get it!

A lot of kneecaps will get threatened, or broken, and a lot of "leverage" will get applied. It aint over.

Hopefully there will be eno... (Below threshold)
Stan:

Hopefully there will be enough Dems kicked out of the House to where San Fran Nan will be just another one of Congressional backbenchers that has to endure the slings and arrows that will be thrown at her. Although, she is looking mighty beatable in the meantime. With her backing of Charlie Rangle and his ethical problems, she maybe committing political suicide. Let's all hope that is the case.

Come the "Easter" break, I ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Come the "Easter" break, I hope enough Democratic reps get bounced around back home, that they grow a spine and call Nancy's bluff. Enough of them get together, they can over-throw the extreme left wing.

What is going to be really ... (Below threshold)
retired military:

What is going to be really funny when 2011 rolls around and not only does Nancy lose her private military jet and privileges but she wont even be elected leader of her party in the house.
Reid wont have to worry about that as he retires to AZ to live out his days wondering what happened.

Earlier this week it was es... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Earlier this week it was estimated that the dems were 15 votes short of passage n the House. I believe that the Obamathon Summit last Thursday was supposed to boost polling and sway enough congressmen to hold their noses and vote for the thing.

But what happened was Obama made yet another epic fail and Health Care looks even more unattractive. His gambit was exposed as a hollow publicity stunt meant to provide cover for dems to vote for it.

If they wait six weeks to make a decision as Obama said (and I think it will require longer for him to build the resolve needed to act if the last year is any indication of his ability to make decisions) it could very well be into the summer before anything would make it to the House floor for action. By then the fall elections will be in play and there won't be a lot of politicians who will want to make a vote one way or another on such an important piece of legislation.

I don't think that they can buy enough votes on the House floor to get it through. After the sellout in the Senate for votes, Americans are watching and every House member should know that if they get cut a special deal it will be all over the internet and they can kiss re-election goodbye.

Promises of an appointed position by an administration on life support aren't going to have much currency.

I cannot be sure of anythin... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

I cannot be sure of anything anymore regarding this healthcare legislation. The far left in Congress cares so much more about the life of this legislation than the life of a child that survives a botched abortion. Their obsession borders on pathologic. Think of it. The Dems want to enact legislation that collects taxes on a program a few years before it is actually administered. What are they going to do, bring Al Gore's lockbox out of storage to store these funds in securely so they don't get dispersed for something else? We are pretty much down to crunch time here.

There are two main reasons ... (Below threshold)
davidt:

There are two main reasons for this push for government takeover of healthcare.

First, it isn't a government takeover of healthcare, it's a Democrat takeover. A plum the Democrats have been trying to grab for a long time, and they are so close now they can taste it.

Second, it's the only chance they'll get.

The Democrats are wounded and cornered, which makes them all the more desperate and dangerous. You can't expect a wounded and cornered animal to behave rationally, don't expect more from the Democrats.

Surrender has never been in the Democrat playbook.

Byron York's post was actua... (Below threshold)
Andrew X:

Byron York's post was actually pretty scary: Just to reiterate, he said that it is normal for, when politicians are confronted with something as unpopular as this, they start to reign it in, certainly on the edges of the group pushing it forward. But in this case, the opposite may be true, in that they may assess that their careers have already been hopelessly poisoned, so why not go all out to relaize a progressive power-mad dream of decades standing? All that is needed is a surviving leadership to be able to promise them parachute enough to secure the vote.

If he is right, there may be only one way to stop them: real, raw, naked fear, of pretty much everything that matters to them other than personal safety, which of course is totally off limits.

The only way I see to instill that fear is to make clear to them, and it may very well be true, that this would be the right's 'Vietnam War'. Namely, something that, to the right at least, is SO disgraceful, SO outrageous, SUCH a violation of everything that the country stands for, that it must be overturned "by any means necessary". And yes, that means exactly what the left meant by it forty years ago. Exactly.

Going back almost 50 years, the "60's" began essentially with the 'Berkley Free Speech Movement' of 1964, whose spiritual godfather was one Mario Savio.

Like with Alinksy, it is worth remembering what Mr. Savio said at that time, a philosophy that has underlined virtually every act of the left then and since ---

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious--makes you so sick at heart--that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

Imagine the right living, breathing, and internalizing that statement for the next decade, and doing so not in the spirit of Mario Savio, but rather in the spirit of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Paine. At the same time, try to imagine if there is any act the right could take in such spirit that was not intellectually and philospohically justified by the left in their heyday just a few decades back.

Imagine that, congressman, and breathe that in for a while.

Because, with that S-eating grin on your face, full of the power we the people have temporarily given you, convinced that because you can do it, you will do it...

You are juggling with hand grenades, big time. BIG time.

I am not all that enthusiastic about entering into "interesting times". Whether you all are, I guess the next 60 days will tell.

Just because Obammacare is ... (Below threshold)
Sean P:

Just because Obammacare is very unpopular, especially in Blue Dog Districts doesn't necessarily mean the shrewdest move, politically speaking, is opposing the Speaker.

Remember, Congressional races cost money to run. Crossing the party leadership every now and then to prove your independance is one thing, but when the party base draws a line in the sand, as "progressives" have done for Obammacare, bucking the base will make it a lot harder to raise money for your re-election campaign.

At this point, the Blue Dogs are in a Catch-22: vote for Obammacare and lose the independents, or oppose Obammacare and lose your base and the $$ you need to run your campaign. Either way, your out of a job in January. And at THAT point, which vote is most likely to help you get a job? If your angling for some low level ambassadorship or some gig at a liberal lobbying firm, it would be much better if you walked the plank for the team than if you defied the party and still didn't get re-elected.

Sorry, you can accuse the blue dogs of a lot of things, but lack of attention to their own self-interest isn't one of them.

There ARE no democrat "mode... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

There ARE no democrat "moderates." There are only leftists and RADICAL leftists. The radicals will vote "en bloc" for this fraud as it will provide what they have DREAMED of--total power and control over the lives AND deaths of 300 million people. The plain leftists, especially the one or two termers in unsafe seats, will think long and hard about throwing away their political careers and therefore their ability to create untold power and wealth, for after November, the odds are they will NOT be back in DC anytime soon. If thugs like Rangel have taught us anything about the majority of leftists, it is that living large is at LEAST as important as imposing their views on the "little people!"

I saw a news report today t... (Below threshold)
Rick Caird:

I saw a news report today that claimed Pelosi said Democrats should vote for this even if it cost them their job. It is their duty to do what is right for America.

I suggest we take it a step further. If Pelosi believes it is so right for America, she could always promiser to resign from Congress if health care passes. Or, even better, she could promise to resign if it doesn't pass. That would provide one more reason to vote against it.

she could alway... (Below threshold)
she could always promiser to resign from Congress if health care passes. Or, even better, she could promise to resign if it doesn't pass.
I vote "both."
It is true that the so-call... (Below threshold)
Matt:

It is true that the so-called moderate democrats in congress need money to get re-elected. It is also true that the speaker of the house will control a lot of those funds to campaign.

However, the so-called moderate democrats that are up for re-election had better look at the balance sheets. Does the party have enough money to spread around when they have to defend 10 or 20 times more seats than they thought they would in 2009? Which districts is the democrat machine willing to lose? If they have to pour money into senate and house campaigns the money will disappear. Even though there are a lot of big donors they will not want to much publicity about money they are shoveling out to re-elect legislators that turned their noses to the american voter.

Why fear Pelosi?If I... (Below threshold)
Mike Giles:

Why fear Pelosi?
If I understand the Constitution correctly, she can be removed at any time by a majority of all members of the House.
If she attempts to punish the Moderate Democrats, they can get together with the Republics and remove her.

Healthcare is dead...the de... (Below threshold)
Michael:

Healthcare is dead...the dems know it...but they have to go through the motions to appease idiots like stevie green, stevie sturm, BryanD, etc...

Lil' stevie must has lost m... (Below threshold)
914:

Lil' stevie must has lost mommys basement internet privileges just like blinky's going to lose the speaker ship!

You're all assuming that el... (Below threshold)
fustian:

You're all assuming that elective office is all that can be offered to these people, but there are so many other options. The include, but ar not limited to: Fannie and Freddie, running GM, lucrative positions in banks, think tanks, lobbying organizations and foundations. Not to mention all of the lucrative and powerful positions in the new medical bureaucracy.

The key to getting these jobs will be alignment. P*ss off the leadership AND don't get elected, and you're through in politics.




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