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 Zúniga — 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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. James,

    I’m not so sure about the maturity question. Rightroots allowed emotions to rule over common sense in their backing of Diana Irey versus John Murtha. Rightroots raised more money for this losing race and Irey got whipped. Something we both knew would happen from the beginning.

    Bill

  2. James Joyner says:

    Bill,

    True enough. But Tauscher isn’t even a DINO; she’s a pretty solid centrist Democrat.

  3. Kent G. Budge says:

    Purging non-purists will lead to permanent minority status. Done with sufficient enthusiasm, it leads to the Libertarian Party.

    That’s right on the money, James, and pretty funny besides. Reminds me of one of my favorite essays by Russell Kirk.

  4. superdestroyer says:

    Actually, given the demographic changes in the United States, the netroots know that they will win in the long run. In the future, the ruling Democratic party will be a party of blacks and Hispanics voting for far left, prep school, Ivy League liberal whites.

  5. If the liberals don’t want the 60 “new democrats” in their party, I’m sure the republicans can find room in their party for them. We’ll also be glad to take Lieberman off their hands. I would much rather have the internal party debate between the likes of Tauscher and Lieberman who I am sure I wouldn’t agree with on a lot of social issues, but at least seem to understand the country is at war.

  6. Bithead says:

    The Left Blogosphere is far ahead of their Right counterparts in organization and energy but lags substantially in political maturity

    forgive me, James, but it strikes me that their lack of political maturity is of a piece withe their political posiitons. Cut and run, for example, doesn’t strike me as being a very mature position to take.

  7. DC Loser says:

    The election is barely over and the fringe nuts are already making noises about “ideological purity.” I’m not a fan of either the left nor the right fringe. But this is like the old adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” I’m hoping saner heads keep their cool and just ignore this crap.

  8. carpeicthus says:

    Who?

  9. carpeicthus says:

    The Left Blogosphere is far ahead of their Right counterparts in organization and energy but lags substantially in political maturity.

    Aren’t the rightroots in the throes of organizing a loyalty oath as we speak? They just don’t have the efficacy. You’ll say “not all of them,” but that’s true on both sides. It’s too easy to see intellectual comformity on the other side of the divide, and division on your own.

  10. James Joyner says:

    It’s too easy to see intellectual comformity on the other side of the divide, and division on your own.

    Sure. But there’s much, much more of this among the 50,000+ daily reader liberal blogs than their counterparts on the Right. Indeed, there’s very little activism in any sense (aside from generic things like Porkbusters) among the top tier conservative blogs.

  11. joated says:

    I don’t know. With Kos’ record of picks in past elections, he might have a difficult time taking out the garbage.

    There’s little doubt he can energize the voting base, however. It just doesn’t vote the way he thinks it will.

  12. graywolf says:

    I love it!

    I didn’t mind that the Republicans lost in 2006.
    They needed a cleansing wakeup…but, the best is what I expected to happen.

    The “party of treason” is ripping itself apart – with 18 months to go.