When you're making your list of the worst Democrats of the decade, put Dick Gephardt close to the top. A lot of the mistrust between the Democratic base and the Congressional leadership over the past five years is just the bill for things Gephardt broke. His grand moment of treachery came in 2002, where he wrote the Iraq War Resolution with Dennis Hastert, undercut antiwar Democrats and moderates who wanted more safeguards in the legislation and pushed the thing through the House. The version of that legislation which passed the Senate had Joe Lieberman in the Gephardt role as Democratic co-sponsor.
That's the founding painful memory of the left-wing blogosphere. Amid the shock of November 2004, the fact that Pelosi and Reid replaced Gephardt and Daschle wasn't fully appreciated as a new direction. But the new management has done quite well, blocking Social Security privatization, winning bushels of House and Senate seats in 2006 and 2008, passing a big stimulus bill this year, and now getting health care reform through every committee. It's one of the reasons I'm such a huge fan of Nancy Pelosi -- when you've seen the devil, you'll know what an angel she is.
Via Matt, Sebastian Jones' article in The Nation details how Gephardt is using his new career as a corporate lobbyist to betray Democrats in new ways. He's lobbying for a coal company that funds climate change denialists, "Professional Employment Organizations" that allow employers to split employees in the same workplace between several different subcontractors so they can't unionize effectively, and pharmaceutical companies that want to keep generic drugs off the market. Back in April he was telling people that universal health care couldn't pass this year and Democrats should think smaller. I'm glad that the guy retired from the Congressional leadership, but I wish that meant that he was off playing video games somewhere instead of lobbying against progressive interests. (Though if he was playing first-person-shooters, he'd probably just go around teamkilling.)
I agree that Pelosi is a huge improvement over Gephardt. She has been much more effective at holding the caucus together and sticking up for progressive principles, as both Minority Leader and as Speaker. I am still not convinced of Reid's effectiveness. He seems a bit more willing than Daschle to block Republican initiatives, but it's not clear how well he can push through important legislation. I'll be happy to change my mind if he manages to pass universal health care and a real climate change plan.
Why do weirdos on our side go after Pelosi, anyway? Compared to Reid, she's Batman.
I used to be a Gephardt fan, once upon a time. He at least appeared to be on the side of the working stiff.
Needless to say, his 2002 betrayal (it's hard to call it anything less) changed my mind about him in general - but I still figured he was an intrinsically pro-worker guy.
Boy howdy, was I wrong about that. What a worthless schmuck.
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