by Dee Newman
It seems that Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) has been using his August recess time not for town hall meetings, but to do a little vote counting (and not in the House where he sits, but in the Senate).
The so-called centrist Blue Dog Democrat told MSNBC today that Senate Democrats will not be able to "go it alone" on health care legislation and force through a bill with a public option on a party-line vote. "It's numerically not possible," he argued. "We don't have enough votes."
What Representative Cooper fail to disclose was that the only way Republicans could possibly stop a comprehensive health care reform bill with a public option from passing would be to have all of the conservative Democrats in the Senate to choose to join all the Republicans (including all three moderate Republicans) in a filibuster against their own President and party.
Cooper’s intellectual dishonesty is glaringly obvious. Why did he choose to count votes in the Senate and not the House? Could it be that he knows he and his fellow Blue Dogs do not stand a chance in the House to prevent a public option?
The fact is, Cooper has always been against comprehensive health care reform. Though he now represents probably the most progressive district in the state of Tennessee, throughout his entire political career he has advocated a minimalist, incremental approach to health care reform that would not offend his corporate supporters and his more conservative constituencies.
Back in 1993 when he represented the 4th congressional district (that was split between areas with strong Democratic and Republican voting histories) he was instrumental in undermining President Clinton health care reform plan and played a crucial role in destroying any chances it may have had.
Since Cooper now represents the more progressive 5th congressional district, he has had to adjust his political persona, portraying himself as a constructive centrist who seeks a bipartisan compromise on health care reform.
No matter what he may say about being a supporter of health care reform – about helping his party, his President, or even the American people, Jim Cooper has always appeared (to me) to be someone who is more concerned about helping himself and winning another term in Congress.
This time though, if he is seen as an obstructionist to reform, he may well find himself struggling to maintain his seat in a Democratic primary.