Tag Archives: Matthew Manweller

The Mythological Democrat

You may remember Dr. Matthew Manweller. He’s the Central Washington University Political Science professor who rather shamefully suggested that Republicans ought not “go after” Blue Dog Democrats in 2010. Since I wrote this post castigating Dr. Manweller for taking such a naive stance, he’s pointed me in the direction of two articles which he felt were relevant.

The first was an op-ed at The New Republic, that opens with an excerpt from Federalist Number 10 penned by James Madison.

Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice.

So far, so good. Madison and I are totally on the same page. I even agree with the authors of the article that we’ve reached a point where our political system is on dangerous ground because of unbridled factionalism. Of course, it’s all down hill after that, as The New Republic article goes on to lay the blame for this alarming state of affairs solely on the Republican Party, with the last, precipitous slide having been caused by their stubborn refusal to embrace the Baucus health care bill.

The Republican reception of Baucus’s bill doesn’t so much represent a crisis for health care reform as it does a crisis for our system. The GOP is no longer representing interest groups; rather, it has become an interest group itself–and an implacable one. So that a compromise piece of legislation that achieves a rough consensus among the various factions in the debate fails to get even one vote from one of the two major parties.

Forget that the Democrats weren’t exactly wetting themselves with excitement over this bill. Ignore its questionable credentials as an actual bipartisan effort (just because there were Republicans sitting on the committee, doesn’t mean their ideas were incorporated into the bill; a true bipartisan effort should have garnered support from the GOP committee members). Forget that; just focus on the Republican opposition and make something sinister of it.

The second was a news story detailing the defeat of the Senate Medicare bill, where we learn that 13 Democrats voted against it.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, needed 60 votes to proceed. He won only 47. And he could not blame Republicans. A dozen Democrats and one independent crossed party lines and voted with Republicans on the 53 to 47 roll call.

Indulge me while I make an unrelated point. The Democrats’ failure to pass health care reform legislation cannot be attributed to GOP opposition, as much as I’d like to think there was something they could do stop this train wreck from happening. The truth is – and I’m certainly not the first to make this point but Robert Pear and David M. Herszenhorn, who wrote the article apparently have yet to be clued in – Republicans hold a minority of seats in both the House and Senate. If the Democrats want to pass their health care reform, all they need to do is, you know, pass it. The GOP can’t stop them.

Getting back to Manweller’s point…getting back to the point…yeah. Actually, I’m not sure what Manweller’s point is here.

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I am a Blue Dog. I am moved by mysterious forces, the nature of which the GOP can never fathom.

Then on Saturday, I happened across this article about North Dakota Democrat, Earl Pomeroy. Here’s the part that immediately caught my interest.

Congressman Earl Pomeroy (photo) of North Dakota, a supposed Blue Dog Democrat fiscal hawk (emphsis added) demonstrated his peculiar brand of “hawkishness” this week when he quickly announced his support of Nancy Pelosi’s health care bill.

And now my point.

With very few exceptions, the Blue Dog Democrats aren’t conservative. Amongst the House Blue Dogs, over half support the conservative position less than one third of the time. In my estimation, that disqualifies them even as moderates. In the Senate, the list of ten so-called moderate Senators who pose a threat to the passage of health care reform legislation is even more revealing; only one, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, could reasonably be called moderate. The other nine? They support the conservative position less than one quarter of the time.

This tells me that the existence of conservative and moderate Democrats in the House and Senate is largely a myth created by the Democrat Party. Why? Because by changing the public perception of what constitutes a legislative moderate, they hope to force the Republican Party to the left lest it be characterized as extreme. And Stockholm Syndrome Republicans inside the beltway and elsewhere perpetuate the myth of the moderate Democrat and participate in their own marginalization by trying to make nice with the Blue Dogs.

You can’t count on Blue Dog support because they’re not conservatives or, for the most part, even moderates. If they occasionally vote in line with conservative principles, you can’t know or understand their motivations because they surely differ from those of real conservatives. The only way to ensure a return to government based on the Constitution and conservative principles is to elect as many conservatives as possible to the House and Senate, even in districts now represented by a Blue Dog.

The GOP leadership needs to show some fighting spirit going into the mid-term elections to help rebuild their brand. Taking a soft approach with the Blue Dogs is not the path to success.

Update: ‘Scuse me for saying so, but Dick Morris agrees with me.

Update: ‘Scuse me again, but Grover Norquist agrees with me, too.

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In Defense of Matthew Manweller

I had the opportunity to speak to Washington State Republican Party Chairman, Luke Esser, today. Among other things, he offered this defense of Dr. Manweller:

Dr. Mathew Manweller is a strong, committed conservative who has worked hard to improve the Republican Party, our state and nation. He has displayed tremendous courage by openly and proudly proclaiming his conservative beliefs in a hostile academic world of liberal activism. Last week Dr. Manweller proposed a strategy for the 2010 elections whereby Republicans nationally would “target their challenges to representatives who are disproportionately liberal in comparison to their districts.” While I don’t agree with his proposed strategy (I favor going on offense against the Democrats in every district where Republicans have a reasonable chance of victory), it’s ridiculous for anyone to question Dr. Manweller’s motives. We certainly could use more thoughtful debate about how best to defeat Democrats and advance our shared conservative principles. Ad hominem attacks on Dr. Manweller do nothing to accomplish either of those goals.

I don’t know Dr. Manweller, but Esser does and I’m willing to take his word on the matter. His statement is, I believe, more in response to this post at RedState than mine, as I was merely commenting on Manweller’s stunningly incomprehensible position about how the GOP should approach the next election cycle.  Definitely not this one at Horse’s Ass…Jon DeVore seems fairly certain that Dr. Manweller is conservative.

Considering some of Manwellers embarrassing right wing antics, like the time he called supporters of the minimum wage “dumber than a post,” it’s pretty darn funny that there’s a little internecine warfare going on at the WSRP.

Why do I think it’s internecine conflict? Because the attacks against Manweller are being cheered by fellow WSRP executive board member Nansen Malin of Pacific County, who at last sighting was relentlessly attacking Brian Baird because he wouldn’t have a town hall in her living room.

Here’s a bit of advice for Mr. DeVore. If you’re going to follow someone on Twitter – and especially if you’re going to write about it on your blog – you should click through and actually read their links. Ms. Malin wasn’t tweeting links to the RedState post, but she did tweet a link to this blog. There is no internecine warfare going on at the WSRP. So sorry to disappoint.

(Note: Martin Knight’s post at RedState makes excellent points about the inadvisability of Dr. Manweller’s plan, whether or not you agree that he’s a Democrat sleeper.)

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Planning To Fail

You’ve surely heard the old adage, “when you fail to make a plan, you plan to fail.” Like most old sayings, this is largely true; operating by the seat of your pants isn’t the best route to success; however, people do occasionally manage it anyway – due to sheer luck or brute force – but what about those times when a plan is so misguided that the plan itself dooms you to failure?

Matthew Manweller, an associate professor of Political Science at Central Washington State University and member of the Washington State Republican Party Executive Committee proposes just such a plan in an op-ed appearing today in the Seattle Times.

There is a tendency for national political parties, especially minority parties, to go after the most vulnerable incumbents. This means focusing on swing districts or districts where the presidential partisan vote differed widely from the congressional partisan vote. The national GOP will be making a serious mistake if they follow this strategy across the board. A more nuanced approach is necessary if the GOP wants to win back majority status, but more importantly, the trust of the American people.

God save me from a nuanced approach. Nuance is the mantle intellectuals like to don when they espouse ideas that slap common sense in the face. It allows them to maintain their self-righteous sense of superiority without having to actually justify what they’re saying because, after all, you would understand it if only you were smart enough to appreciate their nuanced approach.

Manweller continues:

GOP Chairman Michael Steele should not go after the “Blue Dog Democrats” in 2010. This small group of representatives has shown themselves to value practicality over ideology. They have been willing to compromise, change their minds and even oppose their own party when necessary, characteristics that should be valued regardless of one’s own political affiliation. More will be lost than gained if the GOP attacks this coalition.

I am not sure how Manweller defines “Blue Dog,” so we’ll just let them define themselves. Cross-referencing the list of House Blue Dog Caucus members with the American Conservative Union’s lifetime ratings, we can see that, of the 46 members who are rated, just four of them support the conservative position at least half the time, whereas 27 of them support it less than one third of the time.

Astonishingly, 18 of them support the conservative position less than one quarter of the time, with ratings ranging from 24.5 all the way down to 2! It’s a sign of just how far left the Democrats have swung that anyone who votes against the conservative position 98% of the time would even want to be part of a supposedly moderate caucus, much less be allowed to join. Tell me why, by all that’s holy, would you not challenge a so-called Blue Dog who votes with you less than 25% or even 50% of the time? Even if you elect a moderate Republican who supports the conservative position 51% of the time, that’s a gain in my book.

Now put on your thinking cap, because here comes the  nuanced part:

What message does it send to conservative Democrats if the GOP assails the very people who were willing to work with them? Republican challenges will simply drive Blue Dogs to seek cover in the liberal wing of their party and make them question why they should ever cross the aisle again.

Breaking news, Professor Manweller! Not all the Blue Dogs are conservatives! Or even moderate! But you must know that, being, as you are, a professor of Political Science. And to tell the truth, I really don’t care if their feelings get hurt. Furthermore, when your party is in the majority, it doesn’t matter if the guys on the other side of the aisle are willing to cross over and work with you. Unless you want to pursue policies that really aren’t going to turn out to be all that popular, or even work as advertised, and you want to spread the blame. (Ask the Democrats how this is working out for them.)

More importantly, what message does it send to the American voter if the GOP seeks to overthrow the very group of people who are actually looking (and thinking) before they leap? If Republicans win a majority on the backs of Blue Dogs, they will look cynical in victory and send a message that the desire for power trumps a commitment to rational discourse and the politics of cooperation.

Such a victory would not be good for America. After having lost the trust of the American people in 2006, the GOP needs to show that they can put country above partisan gain. Driving out conservative Democrats doesn’t send that message. In truth, such a move would further polarize an already polarized America. For decades, Democrats have been targeting Rockefeller Republicans and Republicans have been targeting soft Democrats. The result has been an ever widening chasm between the Left and the Right. That can be good for fundraising, but not for public policy.

Does that mean the GOP should sit on the sidelines during the 2010 elections? Absolutely not. But they should target their challenges to representatives who are disproportionately liberal in comparison to their districts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a perfect example — uncompromisingly liberal but representing the relatively conservative state of Nevada. From a pure political perspective, replacing a conservative Tennessee Democrat with a Tennessee Republican consumes scarce political resources but does nothing to increase the number of votes to block Obama’s legislation.

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Did you say Blue Dog?

When the GOP mounts a strong challenge in a Blue Dog district, the average voter won’t interpret that as a cynical grab for power because – here’s another news flash for the Professor – the average American voter doesn’t know a Blue Dog Democrat from a hole in the ground. Joe and Jane Voter are far more likely to think that the failure to mount an effective challenge is a sign of GOP indifference, incompetence or inability and nobody likes to back a loser.

Manweller states, “Such a victory would not be good for America.” Why not? If you believe that conservative principles are best for this country and that that the Republican party best represents those principles, how is it “not good for America” if you do all within your power to promote them? Manweller should be encouraging Michael Steele to embrace a strategy of moving forward with strong challenges in every district that can possibly be snatched back from the Democrats and even stronger challenges in tough districts, rather than limiting the potential for success. He talks about scarce political resources without recognizing that people are motivated and motivated people can achieve great things.

To say that we should hand the Blue Dogs a pass is like saying that you should throw the game because  your opponent just said your mother was ugly, rather than calling her…something worse. Perhaps Manweller finds it repugnant to think of the political process in terms of winners and losers, yet there undoubtedly are winners and losers. Failure to acknowledge this when the stakes are so high is irresponsible; the Democrats, even the Blue Dogs, understand this.

As a Washington conservative, I can only hope the other members of the WSRP Executive Committee don’t embrace Manweller’s ill-advised plan because it would be nice to hope for the possibility of some conservative representation in Olympia for the 1st District. For an ostensible expert on American politics, the Professor seems alarmingly naive. Perhaps he needs to get out and mingle with the riff-raff more often.

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