Ellen Tauscher on Netroots Hit List
Democratic Representative Ellen Tauscher has apparently replaced Joe Lieberman as Netroots Enemy #1, according to a front page story in today’s WaPo by Juliet Eilperin and Michael Grunwald.
The Democratic majority was only three weeks old, but by Jan. 26, the grass-roots and Net-roots activists of the party’s left wing had already settled on their new enemy: Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.), the outspoken chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition. Progressive blogs — including two new ones, Ellen Tauscher Weekly and Dump Ellen Tauscher — were bashing her as a traitor to her party. A new liberal political action committee had just named her its “Worst Offender.” And in Tauscher’s East Bay district office that day in January, eight MoveOn.org activists were accusing her of helping President Bush send more troops to Iraq.
The anti-Tauscher backlash illustrates how the Democratic takeover has energized and emboldened the party’s liberal base, ratcheting up the pressure on the party’s moderates. That pressure is also reaching House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a San Francisco liberal who recognizes that moderate voters helped sweep Democrats into the majority. Pelosi has clashed with Tauscher in the past, but she’s now eager to hold together her diverse caucus and to avoid the mistakes of GOP leaders who routinely ignored their moderates.
So far, Pelosi and her leadership team seem determined to protect Tauscher and her 60 New Democrats — up from 47 before the election. In fact, the day after Working for Us, the new progressive political action committee, targeted Tauscher, Pelosi sought her out at a caucus meeting and assured her: “I’m not going to let this happen.” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) spent 20 minutes complaining to Working for Us founder Steve Rosenthal, who swiftly removed the hit list of “Worst Offenders” from the group’s Web site.
Said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly: “We want to protect our incumbents. That’s what we’re about.”
Democratic leaders want their activists to focus on beating Republicans. But the grass roots and Net roots believe the political tide is shifting their way, and they can provide the money, ground troops and buzz to challenge Democratic incumbents they don’t like. MoveOn.org had two Bay Area chapters before the election; now it has 15, and they could all go to work against Tauscher in a primary. “Absolutely, we could take her out,” said Markos Moulitsas ZÃºniga — better known as Kos — the Bay Area blogger behind the influential Daily Kos site.
The Left Blogosphere is far ahead of their Right counterparts in organization and energy but lags substantially in political maturity. Keeping a governing coalition together requires the likes of Tauscher being included at the leadership table. Purging non-purists will lead to permanent minority status. Done with sufficient enthusiasm, it leads to the Libertarian Party.