As democrats crafted their political comeback in recent years, a key ingredient in their master plan was the use of carefully selected conservative democrats to broaden their party’s base and to provide competitive candidates in rural, Southern, conservative, and GOP-dominated districts. Conservative democrats were then pampered, cultivated, and coddled by the national party organization and, when electorally successful, given red carpet welcomes to Congress.
This uncharacteristic warmth toward people deviating from the left’s ideological party line was understandable. Only by the creation of just this kind of diverse coalition could the democrat party hope to recapture majorities in both houses in an essentially center-right country.
Now, however, the time has come to reap the spoils and to enact the legislative agenda of the left, and as Karl Rove describes, the time of happy ideological diversity, the time of coddling Blue Dog democrats, is over and the gloves are coming off.
“Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.” That’s what President Barack Obama said to Rep. Peter DeFazio in a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic Caucus last week, according to the Associated Press.
A few weeks ago, Mr. DeFazio voted against the administration’s stimulus bill. The comment from Mr. Obama was a presidential rebuke and part of a new, hard-nosed push by the White House to pressure Congress to adopt the president’s budget. He has mobilized outside groups and enlisted forces still in place from the Obama campaign.
Senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett and her chief of staff, Michael Strautmanis, are in regular contact with MoveOn.Org, Americans United for Change and other liberal interest groups. Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina has collaborated with Americans United for Change on strategy and even ad copy. Ms. Jarrett invited leaders of the liberal interest groups to a White House social event with the president and first lady to kick off the lobbying campaign.
Its targets were initially Republicans, as team Obama ran ads depicting the GOP as the “party of no.” But now the fire is being trained on Democrats worried about runaway spending.
Americans United is going after Democrats who are skeptical of Mr. Obama’s plans to double the national debt in five years and nearly triple it in 10. The White House is taking aim at lawmakers in 12 states, including Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor. MoveOn.Org is running ads aimed at 10 moderate Senate and House Democrats. And robocalls are urging voters in key districts to pressure their congressman to get in line.