Via Media Monitor Saba K-W, Rachel Maddow spent some time last night documenting the phenomenon of "conservadems," a small group of Democratic lawmakers (apparently led by Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana), whose general aim, as Maddow puts it, is "torpedoing their party's own agenda."
The item picks up where Matt Yglesias left off last night:
It's been known for a while now that Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) has been planning to form a caucus of "moderate" Senate Democrats hoping to soak up special interest cash in exchange for blocking the progressive agenda. I'm told he more formally announced the formation of this group this morning, on Morning Joe, to acclaim from Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan. It's nice to see that Bayh isn't even pretending that what he's advancing is some alternative vision of progressive change--it's something he expects, rightly, die-hard rightwingers to find pleasant. The hilarious catch, however, is that when Bayh was asked to name the members of his new Obstruction Caucus he couldn't name them all. Apparently "three or four" members of the group are part of a Chickenshit Subcaucus who want to block the change America needs but don't want to be publicly identified as belonging to the group!
Think about it, though? If you were way into "hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit" ... I mean, SO IN LOVE with "hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit" that you wanted to MARRY "hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit," you'd still want to keep your own last name. RIGHT KAY HAGAN AND CLAIRE MCCASKILL?
Basically, their agenda is this: 1) Generically restrict spending, not through a targeted, line-by-line approach, but through loudly whining about it, 2) Water down environmental policy, so that everyone can say they did something that looked pretty but that was ultimately ineffective, 3) ensure that health care reform does not go through in the budget reconciliation process -- that way, they can all pretend to vote for it whilst ensuring it gets filibustered by the GOP. They'll be able to clown to their constituents, who lack health care, that they tried, without actually having to try. SUCH BRAVERY, these people! Anyway, Rachel would like your help in making sure that everyone knows the names of this legislative clique.
MADDOW: Three or four others we are putting in witness protection program who don't want to be publicly identified yet. There are other Democratic Senators who are secretly against the President's agenda and want to work against it but don't want to be seen working against it? That seems cowardly and it seems like something we ought to be able to surmount through the magic of people ratting you out. We appeal for tips. Who is not on that list but is going to these meetings, sides against Obama but secretly? Anybody know? Disgruntled staffers? Anyone. Rachel@msnbc.com. We await word.
Now, naturally, were this Bayh brand of centrism a vital sort of sense-making, gap-bridging, coterie of folks who were shrewdly coming up with ways for both parties to come to terms on effective policy, I'd say, "Bravo fellows!" But if they were doing that, they'd probably all come clean about it, anyway. What we know, however, from the Curious Case of Benjamin Nelson, is that the members of Bayh's Quisling Quorum are likely to be policy nincompoops.
Anyway, march on, Evan Bayh, wearing your Red Badge Of Whatever It Is You Think You're Doing!