A note on some of these pro-life, or “conservative,” or “centrist” Democrats in the House . . .
Periodically I’ll discuss with Cam the value of just how unconservative a Republican you can stand, compared to a relatively conservative Democrat. The NRA, for example, endorses plenty of Democrats, because they emphasize that they’re a single-issue organization. They focus on gun rights; you could be a raving socialist on all other issues, but they’ll still back you. Howard Dean, for example, got an “A” rating from the NRA.
I understand the logic of that position. For a nonpartisan organization, it makes perfect sense.
But there’s a catch. For even the best, most pro–Second Amendment House Democrat, the first vote they cast in the House is to make Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House, ensuring the floor schedule is controlled by a woman who is scored an “F” by the organization. And her speakership ensures that F-rated John Conyers of Michigan chairs the Judiciary Committee, and that liberals, often but not always anti-gun, control the important committees.
Meanwhile, if that A-rated House Democrat were beaten by some squishy C-or B-rated Republican, his first vote be would make A-rated John Boehner (or perhaps some other Republican) the speaker.
This goes well beyond the gun issue, obviously. Heath Shuler, John Barrow, Dan Boren, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, and their ilk may completely disagree with the way Pelosi shaped the health-care bill and this insane plan to use the Slaughter Rule. But all of them were key to putting Pelosi in position to do this.
UPDATE: Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell offers his thoughts on this dynamic.