Blue Dogs Won't Hunt

Recalcitrant Dems are more of a hassle than Republicans

You'd think it might be fun to be a Democratic senator these days, with a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a Democratic president setting forth an agenda heavy on all the things left-leaning voters love.

But you would be wrong, because here is a little secret: Democrats do not know how to have fun, even when they have basically been given carte blanche by the electorate to do whatever they feel like for the next couple of years.

Chief among the no-fun-havingest Democrats are the Blue Dogs, who pride themselves on their fiscal conservatism and ability to build bridges with Republicans.

This has translated, lately, to a bunch of bellyaching about the high cost of health care reform, along with opposition to any reform measures that would reduce the cost of health care.

There has been a lot of publicity about Blue Dog opposition to the public option, and rightly so: a plan without a public option to hold down insurance premiums would cost taxpayers more than a plan with such an option.

But Blue Dogs have also been complaining about the employer mandate, which is even more at odds with their supposed concern about spending. The Congressional Budget Office has already weighed in on this issue: without an employer mandate, health care reform would be undermined as many companies dropped their existing insurance plans, forcing workers to seek federal aid — and causing the cost of subsidies to balloon.

One Blue Dog in particular, Nebraska's Ben Nelson, has decided he won't just drag his feet on health care; he will also see how close he can come to acting like a Republican on the question of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Nelson said he also believes Sotomayor is committed to supporting settled judicial precedent.

But, he said, he needs to "convince myself she won't be an activist" on the court.

"I need an opportunity to review a few things," the Democratic senator said.

Review what? His party registration?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already warned his Republican colleagues that a "no" vote on Sotomayor would make the GOP even less appealing to Hispanics. Does Nelson think that Reid will go any easier on a member of his own party?

Well, probably yes, and for good reason. Reid hasn't been able to corral the Blue Dogs on health care; why would he be able to gain a consensus on Sotomayor?

This is why, at the end of the year, we may look up to discover that health care reform has gone exactly nowhere; the newest Supreme Court justice was confirmed without the votes of several key Democrats; and the Democratic party in general looks as loserish as when it was still losing elections ... which it will probably start doing again, immediately.

Dog breeder Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.

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