Chris Bowers notices a pretty obvious pattern — the best way to get Obama’s attention is to make his life difficult. Joe Lieberman and Rick Warren. Meetings with House Republicans and Blue Dogs who wouldn’t vote for the stimulus, while the Progressive Caucus — who supported it unanimously — get put off for a month. Profuse praise for Susan Collins, Arlen Specter and Olympia Snowe who held his stimulus bill hostage in the Senate. Your best chance of getting a job in the Obama administration? Having worked for Hillary Clinton.
Given this, it isn’t hard to think that supporting President Obama isn’t actually the best way to gain access to him, or to influence his legislation. Right now, threatening to block his agenda by joining with Republicans appears to be a more fruitful tactic. As such, it is easy to wonder if Progressives would be better off if they started threatening to vote against President Obama’s legislation, and only came around to grudgingly, and incompletely, supporting his legislation in return for specific promises.
I don’t know how successful the tactic would be in the House. The Blue Dogs have excellent discipline while the Progressives are a mess; the Progressives have virtually nonexistent leadership and nobody feels any particular loyalty to the caucus. At best they would probably just succeed in forcing the Blue Dogs into joining with the Republicans in order to pass legislation. And that would only last until the Democratic ledership beat the crap out of them and they all buckled. Not a lot of promise there.
It would be a lot more viable strategy in the Senate, where any one vote can pretty much keep legislation from passing if the GOP are able to hold formation. Since folks like Chuck Grassley can force a $70 billion AMT patch into the stimulus bill and still not vote for it, the power of one person in this Senate is going to be magnified now that requiring 60 cloture votes is no longer "obstructionism," that’s just the way things work. Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders have just as much power as the Gang of Fools.
The exception of course would be when legislation is offensive to both Progressives and Republicans in the House, and they could join forces to screw the corporatist Dems. Lambert suggests that they could align to defeat BARF.
That would be a great idea but of course they don’t get to vote on BARF.