Charlie Cook has an interesting column which picks up on a point I have made: the biggest threat to Pelosi's leadership (and the most promising avenue to Republican influence) is the Blue Dog Democrats. Those more conservative Members favor budget balancing first and foremost, and 'good government' measures besides. Cook says that House Republicans should ally with them whenever they can:
A conservative with nearly three decades of Washington experience, including in the innermost sanctums of Capitol Hill, this Republican also posited that by siding with the 44 Blue Dog Democrats, the about-200 House GOP members might actually end up with more conservative measures passing the House than if they did the bidding of the White House, which would likely end up compromising with Democratic congressional leaders.
Cook also reminds Democrats (and Republicans) that the United States is a center-right country, and that if Democrats charge to the Left, their majority will last just two years:
This is the same country that just two years ago gave President Bush a majority, albeit barely, and re-elected him. A big majority of those voters are mad about the war or about how the administration chose to conduct it, and they just gave up on a Republican Congress that they began to see as unresponsive. But it is still the same country and the same people.
Most Americans reside ideologically between the 30-yard lines. Indeed, 47 percent of voters in this election called themselves moderates, 32 percent conservative and just 21 percent liberal.
In both his 1992 presidential campaign and again after the 1994 midterm election debacle, former President Bill Clinton found the sweet spot in American politics, and got re-elected with room to spare and with job approval ratings that stuck with him even during a scandal that would have resulted in removal from office for just about any other politician.
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