Augusta’s Blue Dog Democratic Rep. John Barrow found himself among like-minded folks this morning at a seminar sponsored by Center Forward, a group that works to promote the few remaining moderates in Congress. The point was to examine the role moderates play in the fiscal cliff negotiations and Congress going forward.
Barrow swung between lamenting the receding number of Blue Dogs and pronouncing himself hopeful for the future. The outlook for the forthcoming Congress is positive, he said, because “we have a somewhat smaller number of crazies than there is currently. … A few less crazy people is a good start.”
He was referring mostly to the conservative House Republicans who “created a crisis” over the debt limit vote last year and who, he said, are hemming in Speaker John Boehner now. Barrow said the biggest problem as we near the fiscal cliff is “the tyranny of the minority within the majority, their ability to dismiss their leader and their predisposition to do so.”
He wasn’t naming names, but some home-state lawmakers might have been dancing through his head.
Barrow said the Blue Dogs will be relied upon to approve a final deal to cover for the conservatives who will vote against Boehner, but he said there has been no real cross-aisle discussion as members await an agreement between Boehner and President Barack Obama.
Back in the day, Barrow said, moderates were “the brakes” on any one wing of a party imposing its will. But now he said they are more like a GPS system showing those in power the correct route to the center of the electorate — but without the control to steer them there.
Some possible solutions proffered: Nonpartisan redistricting commissions and top-two primary systems like those in California, which create more competitive and moderate districts. Barrow also lamented the Citizens United decision and the flood of outside money it has unleashed in campaigns, which was a tad ironic given that his hosts, Center Forward, spent around $900,000 on ads attacking Lee Anderson in Barrow’s race.
The breakfast meeting was held in the posh offices of Altria, the parent company of tobacco maker Philip Morris, with a gorgeous view of the Capitol a block away. Altria’s PAC gave Barrow $10,000, and we don’t know how much the company gave to Center Forward, because the organization does not disclose its donors.
Coweta County Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland had a less charitable word than “crazy people” to describe some of his colleagues in an interview with Roll Call. We can’t repeat it here, as this is a family blog, but let’s just say it has something to do with a rear orifice.
Some background: Westmoreland serves on the powerful Republican Steering Committee, which earned conservative ire for booting four members from prime committees. The members were among the most likely to vote against leadership priorities and this move was viewed in some corners as punishment for being too conservative.
Not so, said Westmoreland, who is quite conservative himself. After a tense meeting with the conservative Republican Study Committee, Westmoreland told Roll Call that the episode had more to do with personality:
“What I tried to explain to them was, it didn’t have anything to do with your voting record, a scorecard, your work across the street [fundraising] or anything else. It had to do with your ability to work within the system and to try to work. And to be, I guess, constructive in things. And I said, ‘I guess you could say it was an [expletive] factor,’” Westmoreland said. “Now I wasn’t calling any member in particular an [expletive], I was just trying to describe an environment where some people that you’re trying to work with, they just don’t want to work within the system.”
Westmoreland later expressed regret for using that language, saying, “Maybe I should have used ‘obstinate factor.’”
The steering committee reviewed a spreadsheet listing how members voted on key bills. But Westmoreland said that information was not a deciding, or even important, part of the consideration.
Rep. John Lewis’ new memoir, Across that Bridge, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work-Biography/Auto-Biography. The Atlanta Democrat’s tome will be up against:
• Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, Kofi Annan
• The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, Tom Reiss
• The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities, Will Allen
• The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, RJ Smith
The awards show airs Feb. 1 on NBC.
State Sen. Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, wants pro-choice license plates in Georgia to match the “Choose Life” version, in light of a judge’s ruling in North Carolina, Channel 11 reports.
Win your next bar trivia contest with the following tidbit. Via the Associated Press:
President Barack Obama is poised to match Franklin Roosevelt’s record of being sworn in as the nation’s leader four times.
While FDR served four terms, Obama is getting double swearing-in ceremonies for each of his two terms.
He’s planning a private oath at the White House on Jan. 20, when the Constitution requires that his second term begin. But since presidential inaugurations are not traditionally on Sundays, his public swearing-in is scheduled Jan. 21.
In 2009, Obama had a do-over of his oath the day after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts accidentally mixed up the words in the public ceremony.
- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider