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Hullabaloo


Sunday, September 27, 2009

 
Throwing Punches

by digby

Last week I wondered:

Does anyone else find it odd that the Obama administration consistently uses the most hardball, down and dirty, tough guy tactics when it comes to Democratic Party electoral politics but pleads that it is required to observe every arcane, institutional ritual when it comes to legislation?

David Sirota finds it plenty odd too. He writes about the latest somewhat, shall we say, questionable tactic by Jim Messina, former Baucus aid and Emmanuel enforcer:

[T]he Denver Post gives us a sense of just how hard those punches are being thrown. The front-page Sunday story details how President Emanuel dispatched former Max Baucus aide and current Vice President Jim Messina to, as the Post says, "try to buy off" former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) with a job before he announced his primary challenge to appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

There's probably nothing illegal about this - although you can't really say that for sure. Let's not forget that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was indicted and impeached for allegedly trying to horse-trade jobs for senate seats. But legal questions aside, it shows that while President Emanuel may do nothing to stop insurance and pharmaceutical companies write health care legislation, he's going to do everything he can to make sure that incumbents are not bothered by local primary challenges - even those that might create a dynamic that helps pass President Emanuel's legislative agenda.

The danger for President Emanuel, of course, is that the big foot strategy make backfire, especially out here in the West:

"It may make the situation worse for Bennet for them to play the game this way," said state Rep. Kathleen Curry, a Gunnison lawmaker who is supporting Romanoff.

"People in Colorado have an adverse reaction to the external forces coming down and telling them how to think," she said.

The timing of Messina's latest intervention sparked particular concern - because of the appearance that the administration was trying to buy off a nettlesome opponent, to some; to others, because the timing made the effort appear so ham-handed.

As I've said, I have no dog in the primary fight - I just want to see local democracy be allowed to run its course.


It's this willingness to play the hardest hardball when it comes to candidates that makes me skeptical that the administration is being hamstrung by the congress rather than using that as an excuse. They certainly have the cojones to lead the party with an iron fist when it comes to electoral politics so it's hard for me to believe that Rahm and Jim (and the president) just can't herd those Democratic fat cats in the congress. It appears to me as if they have no trouble exerting their power when they want to.

This thing with Messina could be a big mess. We'll see if the administration puts up more of a fight for their favorite little insider than they have for the teabagger targets.


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