The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Surprise Headline - Dems Fumble their Trade Message

Gee where does one begin? Supposedly, Nancy Pelosi has decided that the 15 House members who voted for CAFTA need to be called before the carpet of the Democratic Caucus. (Here, here and here). Others within the blogosphere of the Left are calling for head, or at least committeeships. Pelosi was said to be fuming about the Dems who broke ranks, particularly those like Meeks and Towns who are from safe seats and have cushy committee assignments. Now she is considering revoking these assignments in some cases.

But then why the heck did she and the other ranking Democrats decide not to 'whip' the issue? That's right, the Party made a conscious choice to not demand that members cast a Party line vote on this one. Well if you didn't say to people that there was a 'right' way and a 'wrong' way why are you so upset now? Were they supposed to read your mind? Since 2/3 of the people who vote in the House do so on the basis of some kind of 'quid quo pro' what would make you think this time people would vote their conscience --presuming you could demonstrate that a requisite number of House members have one.

I was hardly a pro-CAFTA person and I am more and more skeptical of the free trade arguments. But if you want to make trade a defining issue for the Party -- you are going to have to WHIP it. And you are going to have to remember that to sell your message, you will want to tell everyone that over 90% of Dems opposed CAFTA while 90% of Republicand supported it.

Talk about muddying the waters? Most of the stories about CAFTA have focused on the 15 Dems who defected and the resulting chagrin in the Party. Talk about a lack of discipline on message? The story over the last week has been either that the bill passed with bi-partisan support or that Democrats are looking at recrimination for defectors. That's the way to confuse everyone.

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