Here is Peck’s Rule of Making Threats: Don’t make them. Either do what you’re going to do, assuming you’re able to do it. Or, shut up.
There are a lot of threats coming from progressives lately. Obama and the Democratic Congress had better not abandon the public health option, or there will be consequences, you hear?
Sorry, Uncle Nader, but I don’t think so. If Max Baucus thought Montana voters would eject him from the Senate, he wouldn’t oppose the public option. It doesn’t matter what the East and West Coast liberal elites think. They didn’t vote Max into office, and they won’t be the ones voting him out.
I made this point over at the blog of Allison Kilkenny, TrueSlant’s progressive standard-bearer. A commenter named “Jasong” replied that Baucus has been well-funded by the health care industry, but has lost the support of Montana voters, according to a Daily Kos poll.
So I looked at the poll myself. You know what caught my eye? 55 percent of Montana Democrats disapproved of their senator’s position on health care reform. 78 percent said they supported a public option.
Yet 69 percent rated Baucus as favorable. And – here’s the number that counts – when asked whether they would vote for Baucus if he opposed a public option, 36 percent of Democrats said they would not vote for him – but 52 percent said it would make no difference to their vote.
That’s right. The flagship issue of the Democratic Party, at a time when that issue is seared into the consciousness of most Americans – and half of Baucus’s Democratic constituents don’t give a damn. Or maybe they give a damn, but it won’t affect their vote, which in politics means pretty much the same thing. It’s 2009. And Baucus isn’t up for reelection until 2014. Pretend you’re Baucus, and ethics are just something you wear occasionally like a new tie. If you were a Senator whose sole ambition is to be reelected, and you had health lobby money on one hand and a spineless electorate on the other, what would you do?
So I’ll ask the question again. How are the progressives going to punish Blue Dog Democrats like Baucus. If you can’t punish him, then you have no control over him. If you have no control over him but you need his vote, what are you going to do?
Same thing for Obama. Abandon him if he abandons health care? Who is going to advance your agenda for you? Vote for the Green Party. That’ll teach him!
So if you really have a plan to nail Baucus & Co., and not just wishful thinking that the voters will arise and stick his head on a pike, then let’s hear it. Time to put up or shut up.