Self-Defeating Blue Dogs?

Joe Klein says Blue Dogs shot themselves in the foot:

Normally, I don’t have much patience for the whining on the left about the Blue Dog democrats — who were sliced in half on Tuesday, losing at least 28 of their 54 seats. When they lose, the Democrats lose control of the Congress. This year, however, I do feel that there is an argument that, to an extent, the Dogs brought this on themselves by being penny-wise, dogpound-foolish. The argument goes like this: a larger stimulus package might have helped the economy recover at a faster clip, but the Dogs opposed it on fiscal responsibility grounds. A second argument: the public really has had it with Wall Street, but the Dogs helped water down the financial regulatory bill, gutting the too-big-to-fail provisions. There is real merit to both points. If the stimulus had been bigger and the financial reform package clearer and stronger, the public would have had a different — and, I believe, more positive — sense of the President’s agenda.

Kevin Drum wants to add mortgage cramdowns to the list. I would say that a variety of aspects of the health reform process — mostly notably just the slow pace of it — also fit the bill.

But to be fair to the Blue Dogs, there’s a big collective action problem. Voting “no” on high-profile legislation does help vulnerable members. Similarly, the Chamber of Commerce seems to have been effective at picking off vulnerable Democrats it disliked while protecting those it smiled upon. So in many ways the ideal scenario for a Democrat in a red-leaning district would be for other members to have passed a giant stimulus. Then you could say you voted against this $2 trillion boondoggle while still benefitting from its impact. Actually “yes” seems like a bad move no matter what the size of the stimulus.