Blue Dog Gone


Mark Shields notes that in the struggle to reform Social Security, the White House has outsmarted itself politically. "The president will be without one of the great Democrats that he could have relied upon for counsel," observes Shields, "because of the incredibly short sightedness of the White House and Tom Delay—Charlie Stenholm, Democrat from West Texas, blue dog Democrat."

Blue dog Democrats, as Shields puts it, are those who "believe in things like fiscal sanity, who oppose tax cuts but oppose big liberal spending, but continue to be Democrats. And Charlie Stenholm . . . was in favor of privatizing part of Social Security, one of the principal advocates." The White House has no allies among House Democrats for its Social Security plan, though "if Charlie Stenholm was in the House of Representatives today, he would get a minimum of ten or a dozen Democrats to join."

What happened is that, in "a naked power grab, Tom DeLay and the Republicans of Texas, with Karl Rove's complicity, wrote Charlie Stenholm out of Congress." The GOP Texas redistricting scheme "abolished his congressional district. I say that because the Democrats understand that that's the first thing, even if you are with them, it is not going to do you any good with this White House. I mean, Charlie Stenholm has been an open, not supporter, but a guy who has been certainly open to all the initiatives. If that's his fate, then why should we [remaining Democrats] cooperate on something like this?"