Often times, I am guilty of attributing the worst to Democrats, assuming they are just liars and hypocrites. I am starting to think they are just suffering from groupthink induced memory loss. The most amusing example of this is the recent outrage over certain Republicans being pressured to vote a certain way on a major piece of legislation.
For the record, I am not in favor of these sorts of strong-arm tactics, but it is absolutely absurd for Democrats to pretend this is a Republican-only sin. How soon they forget:
Back in August, when he was trying to get his budget passed, Clinton made a deal with moderate and conservative Democrats who argued the plan relied too much on higher taxes or didn’t cut spending early and often enough: Vote for the budget, and the moderates–including Penny–could propose a new set of spending cuts in the fall. (Clinton made a similar agreement with Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska.) They relented. Clinton’s budget passed by one vote in the House and by Vice President Al Gore’s tie-breaker in the Senate.
Democratic leaders thought they were off the hook. They obviously didn’t understand how painful the vote was to moderate Democrats. Citing his frustration with the recalcitrance of the pro-spending groups in Washington, the 42-year-old Penny announced that he would resign from the House at the end of his term.
And the following weekend’s talk shows prominently featured freshman Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-Pa.), who cast the decisive vote. The Almanac of American Politics 1994 calls Margolies-Mezvinsky’s district a “quintessentially Republican seat.” Margolies-Mezvinsky had run for the open seat in 1992 as both a liberal and a deficit hawk, winning by only 1,300 votes. She had announced her opposition to the Clinton budget a couple of hours before the vote.
Margolies-Mezvinsky had to be bullied into changing her position. The televised images of a harried, almost-tearful member of Congress explaining her switch made Margolies-Mezvinsky an instant, if unintentional, celebrity.
These bullying tactics also provided an opportunity for the moderates to demand that Clinton deliver on his promise. Penny got Clinton and House Speaker Tom Foley to agree to a vote on spending cuts before the House adjourned in November. When Clinton offered his “rescission” package, House members could propose amendments that would be voted on individually, without any revisions, at that time.
Strong-arming is nothing new, and Kevin’s implication that some physical harm might come to Republicans who voted against the Prescription Drug Benefit (“Nice kid you’ve got there, Nick. Be a shame if anything happened to him….”) is more over-the-top rhetoric from the theatre of the absurd that once was the Democratic mainstream.