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Jim Cooper Seems to Care Only About Jim Cooper’s Clout

I’m so confused.

First I read this piece from Politico, where poor ol’ Rep. Jim Cooper (BlueDog-TN05) was bemoaning his fate as an ordinary, non-leadership member of the Democratic caucus, shut out of all the discussions about the stimulus bill:

Now, I got in terrible trouble with our leadership because they don’t care what’s in the [stimulus] bill, they just want it pass and they want it to be unanimous. They don’t mind the partisan fighting cause that’s what they are used to. In fact, they’re really good at it. And they’re a little bit worried about what a post-partisan future might look like. If members actually had to read the bills and figure out whether they are any good or not. We’re just told how to vote. We’re treated like mushrooms most of the time.

Poor Cooper — he’s kept in the dark and fed manure.

Then I read another piece, this one from The Hill, in which Cooper also plays a starring role. The story is about a proposal by Cooper and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH and the new nominee for Commerce) to establish a bipartisan commission to reform Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security:

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), a member of the Blue Dogs, said that Obama’s call for a bipartisan fiscal summit and his nomination of Gregg show that he’s serious about getting beyond partisanship “so our children’s generation isn’t left to clean up the wreckage.”

. . . Whatever plan the commission comes up with, Congress would have limited opportunities to amend the Cooper-Wolf proposal before voting on it.

Under the Conrad-Gregg proposal, the task force’s plan could not be amended.

Here’s where I’m confused.

In the story from Politico, Cooper is complaining because Pelosi and the House leadership are drafting legislation outside of the normal committee structure and not giving regular members a chance to read it, let alone amend it. (The Blue Dogs and New Dems even sent a sternly worded letter to the leadership about this.)

In the story from The Hill, however, Cooper is advocating that House members abdicate their regular responsibilities for drafting legislation, that the normal committees be ignored, and that a special bill come to the floor for a straight up-or-down vote that can’t be amended.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Cooper doesn’t really care about how legislation gets drafted — all he wants is his Blue Dog clout to be respected and bowed down to by everyone else.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

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