The Democratic majority was only three weeks old, but by Jan. 26, the grass-roots and Net-roots activists of the party's left wing had already settled on their new enemy: Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.), the outspoken chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition.This last passage says it all. Liberal activists oppose Tauscher even though she's received perfect ratings from liberal interests groups such as the Children's Defense Fund and the League of Conservation Voters (not to mention that she's earned the scorn of conservative groups -- the National Rifle Association gave her an "F" on her voting record). The way things are going with the Democratic Party's base (now more and more equated with the Netroots), there'll be no more room for moderate members of the party as time goes by. Joseph Lieberman's troubles in his Senate primary last year foretell the dangers facing middle-of-the-road Democrats in 2008. Lieberman had the option of running statwide as an independent, allowing him to be returned easily to the Senate. House members face smaller constituencies, however, and Tauscher's district's apparently more liberal today than when she was first elected in 1996. It'll be interesting to see how well things turn out for her.
Progressive blogs -- including two new ones, Ellen Tauscher Weekly and Dump Ellen Tauscher -- were bashing her as a traitor to her party. A new liberal political action committee had just named her its "Worst Offender." And in Tauscher's East Bay district office that day in January, eight MoveOn.org activists were accusing her of helping President Bush send more troops to Iraq.
Helping? Jennifer Barton, the lawmaker's district director, played them a DVD of Tauscher blasting the increase as an awful idea in a floor speech eight days earlier.
"The words are fine and good, but we are looking for leadership," scoffed Susan Schaller, one of the activists.
Leadership? Barton showed them the eight golden shovels Tauscher had received for bringing transportation projects to her suburban district, along with numerous awards she had won for her work protecting children, wetlands, affordable housing and abortion rights.
"That's fine and good," Schaller repeated, "but this is about Iraq."
The anti-Tauscher backlash illustrates how the Democratic takeover has energized and emboldened the party's liberal base, ratcheting up the pressure on the party's moderates. That pressure is also reaching House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a San Francisco liberal who recognizes that moderate voters helped sweep Democrats into the majority. Pelosi has clashed with Tauscher in the past, but she's now eager to hold together her diverse caucus and to avoid the mistakes of GOP leaders who routinely ignored their moderates....
Why are they going after Ellen Tauscher?
She has annoyed the left by supporting legislation to scale back the estate tax, tighten bankruptcy rules and promote free-trade agreements. She served as vice chair of the pro-business Democratic Leadership Council, which many liberal activists dismiss as a quasi-Republican K Street front group. And she voted to authorize the Iraq war, although she did so with caveats, and she was quick to express her displeasure with its execution.
See also my earlier post on this topic, "Hard Left activists Pressuring Democratic Majority."