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Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Nutroots Continue to Target Moderate Democrats

As I remarked last year, it seemed like the liberal blogs last year had one goal in mind: to defeat a sitting Democrat (Joe Lieberman). They failed in that attempt, but the party they support succeeded wildly. And the liberal blogs, somehow convinced they pulled it off, are now readying the circular firing squad for some of the moderate Democrats who comprised the new majority.

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 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.

The WaPo points out the idiocy of this crusade:

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.

But liberal groups such as the Children's Defense Fund and the League of Conservation Voters give Tauscher impeccable report cards, while the National Rifle Association gives her straight F's.

"It's not just about her voting record," said Bob Brigham of San Francisco, an activist who recently started the Ellen Tauscher Weekly.

What is it about? That's not hard to gather:

The latest blog wars began simmering in December after Tauscher led a New Democrat delegation to meet with Bush about bipartisan cooperation, irritating the Net roots. They boiled after her former chief of staff, Katie Merrill, posted a scathing piece on a California Web site attacking the Net roots for attacking Tauscher. Outraged activists immediately began mobilizing for a fight in 2008. "I didn't even know who Tauscher was 5 mins ago, but now I support a primary challenge against her," one typical commenter replied.

The "politics of the last five minutes" has rarely been expressed so plainly. I suppose Republicans should be pleased with this push for more radicalism from Democratic moderates, but the concern is that they will succeed without losing control of congress, and then the entire country will suffer.

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