Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Red State Blues

'You are number 6.'

I'm still reeling a bit from the recent passage of the surveillance bill by the house and the senate. The whole matter makes me feel disappointed in congress, despite their other successes. I just could not understand why this bill would go through.

I like to watch C-SPAN when I'm not watching Comedy Central, Cartoon Network or the X-Files, and the other day they had a program with a panel discussion of bloggers that was held at the second annual YearlyKos Convention. Among the panelists were Taylor Marsh, Christy Smith of FireDogLake and Digby from Hullaballo.

During the program, Taylor Marsh had a very interesting explanation of the vote in the house and the senate. I thought what she said seemed reasonable, enlightening and probably true. The problem with words that are reasonable, enlightening and probably true is that they usually are not what you want to hear, and this was no exception.

Marsh said that the reason so many red state Democrats voted for the surveillance bill was because they were deathly afraid of looking like they were soft on defense to their red state constituents. (She threw up her hands is disgust and confusion over Feinstein. No explanation there.) That part does not come as much of a surprise, but then she said that this was about the best we were ever going to get out of any red state, and that the only alternative to this was another obstructionist Republican instead of a red state Democrat.

I had not really thought of it before in this light, but a wide swath of the Democrats in congress are probably going to continue to vote on certain issues like the members of congress did when they voted on the surveillance bill. I hope that these Democrats do not cause problems when Pelosi and Reid try to shift the focus in congress to the war in Iraq again. As I recall, Pelosi and Reed had trouble getting support from all of the Democrats the last time the Iraq war was brought it up. At the time I had not really thought through the full effect of these "red state democrats."

I can also see how the Republicans could use this to their advantage to cause a rift between the factions within the party, the blue state and the red state democrats. Meanwhile, despite what has been reported by some in the media, Pelosi has had good luck generating bipartisan majorities in the house, as this chart indicates. We are never going to get out of this mess without help from both sides of the aisle, and without the help of both the blue states and the red states.

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