Yesterday, I wrote this little number on two of Tennessee’s safest Democrats voting against conditional funding for the troops in Iraq. Newscoma brought to my attention a quote from none other than one Representative John Tanner. In response to questions concerning his vote Tanner’s spokesman stated:
“Rep. Tanner had questions about the political viability of the bill because it may not be something that has the possibility of passing and making it all the way,” said Randy Ford, spokesman for Rep. John Tanner (D-TN), who voted against the bill. “He really wants to continue working on it in a bipartisan way, so the House can insert itself not as one party or another but to have an oversight role.”
Sounds like a winning attitude to me.
It takes bold moves to create positive change, and Tanner, like many southern Democrats just doesn’t seem to have the stomach for that. Had Tanner’s been the conventional wisdom in the 60’s, civil rights legislation may have never passed. Had Tanner been in office in the 20’s, women may still not have the right to vote. Not voting for something because it may not pass, is like not saving for retirement because you might lose money, stupid.
This defeatist attitude calls into question not only Tanner’s judgment, but also his leadership. Tenure does not equal leadership, but as a founding member of the conservative Blue Dog coalition, Tanner has the ear of center right Democrats in the House. Thankfully, nearly two-thirds of these Blue Dogs did not follow his lead this time around.
Last year, the Democratic caucus gained enough seats to take over the House, partly as a result of dissatisfaction with the handling of the Iraq military deployment (as I stated yesterday, it is no longer a war, but an occupation that the Congress has allowed to continue). While Tanner saw no real competition in his district, many Democrats around the country fought long and hard to gain or maintain their seats in the face of a rubber stamp Congress that had done nothing to check the power of the Executive.
Using Representative Tanner’s logic, we should use our new majority to “build bi-partisanship” instead of pursuing the agenda that put us in the majority.
This line of reasoning is utter nonsense.
We were entrusted with the majority because we offered something different. The notion that we should cave to pressure from the minority because it will not pass the Senate is the kind of “playing to not lose” garbage that we have come to expect from both the Blue Dog and New Democrat coalitions. If we want to win, we have to play to win, and that means striking out once in a while, but if we don’t even swing we have no chance.
Representative Tanner, face the facts. You are afraid of the Administration and you are afraid of being in the majority, because being in the majority may bring too much attention to you. You either need to step down, or step it up, because your position of apologist for the Bush Administration is getting tiresome.