Better Off Without the Blue Dogs?

Liberals grapple with whether principles or political expediency are more important in the health care fight.

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Liberals are having the political equivalent of a mid-life crisis, asking themselves what good Democrats are if they can't win the issue closest to their hearts: a government option for health insurance. They split over whether a public option would help or hurt Democrats next year, but agreed that it's a must-win for the president.

Obama's Toast Without the Program "Giving up the public option would send many of Obama's progressive supporters into apoplexy," wrote the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson. If Blue Dogs water down reforms and nix the public option, liberal voters will ask why they bothered to elect a Democratic Congress and president, Robinson continued. Finally, he wrote, if Obama fails to get any health care reform passed it will cripple his agenda to revolutionize energy and education policy.

Digby sounded similar themes as Robinson, albeit with much more anger. "To hell with Rahm and his appease the Blue Dogs at all costs strategy. What good is it if the president fails in 2012?" Digby said she would prefer Democrats lose 20 seats in the House and pass "meaningful health care reform" that would help Obama win reelection and avenge the 2010 losses.

Blue Dogs Need It, Too Conservative Democrats will have an easier time getting reelected if they vote for a public option, said Big Tent Democrat at TalkLeft. "It's the Blue Dogs who have most of the Congressional skin in this political game. They are going to need health care reform for their political lives." Liberals from safe districts could absorb the blow of passing a bill without a public option, he continued.

Balloon Juice's DougJ put it more succinctly to Democratic politicians: "You’re with Obama or you’re with the teabaggers."

"Even an incremental change towards a co-op is some kind of change," writes Hot Air's Allahpundit. "For Blue Dogs, from purplish districts, a no vote is acceptable if sub-optimal; the worst vote is a yes to socialized medicine."

Blue Dogs and Liberals Must Stick Together After the Republicans pushed out its moderates who didn't march lock-step with the conservative agenda, the party lost the northeast and a couple became Democrats, said James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. Most Blue Dogs are from the south and regarded as liberals back home, which means if they lose they'll be "replaced by Southern Republicans who will naturally be to their right."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.