MSNBC Host Harris-Perry Suggests Democrats Dump Blue Dogs for a 'More Easily Corralled' Caucus

On Sunday morning's Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC, the host noted angrily that 17 Democrats voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to produce documents in the Fast & Furious scandal. Harris-Perry brought on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, to ask him if it wouldn't be better for the Democrats to go "without" the moderate-to-conservative Blue Dogs in favor of a "more easily corralled group."

Harris demanded all Democrats need to "get on the same page" before the Democrats convene in Charlotte in September, and nearly omnipresent MSNBC guest Karen Finney suggested the 17 anti-Holder Democrats were all terrified of the NRA and other outside spending groups:

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Okay, so, can I ask you this? What in the world were the 17 Democrats who did not join you in the walkout, what were they thinking?
   
EMANUEL CLEAVER:  Well, I had made the appeal to the Democratic Caucus on Thursday morning to walk out.  Jim Clyburn of South Carolina had actually suggested at the CBC meeting the day before that we walk out, and we thought that we would have over 100, which we did, but we also realized that there are some blue dogs who simply believe that, you know, the people back home would think kindly of them if they went along with the contempt citation. I obviously disagree. Steny Hoyer then asked if they would at least vote and go to the cloakroom in the back so that our side would be empty, and I think most of them did. But, you know, each person who voted with the other side obviously believed that it would be a good move back home, particularly those who are in close races.

HARRIS-PERRY: Right, so, Congressman, let me ask you about that exactly. Are Democrats better off with or without the Blue Dogs? Obviously, the Blue Dogs provide a majority, they help to create the sense of higher numbers, but is it actually better off to end up with a consensus or a more easily corralled group, then to have the Blue Dogs as part of the Democratic Caucus?

CLEAVER: Well, you know, we are a coalition as someone mentioned earlier, of all kinds of people. We have conservative Democrats who embrace, I think, overall the Democratic principles, and then we have people who are considered liberal, like me, who would find antithetical many of the things that the Blue Dogs vote for. But, you know, I try desperately to respect the fact that they can't go along with us on a number of things, but let me also say that there comes times during the course of a session when I would say, now, we probably can do better without the Blue Dogs, and then I rethink it, and I come to the conclusion that, you know, the Democratic party is a big tent party and we need everybody.

HARRIS-PERRY: So Igor, is it possible? Here it is, July 1, we're moving toward the Labor Day DNC Convention, is it possible to get everybody on the same page between now and then?

IGOR VOLSKY, Think Progress blog: You know, it's always been hard for Democrats. You see how the right does it. They're so organized, they're so well instep - although on the Fast and Furious, I get the sense that the leadership wasn't happy with this vote. They scheduled it on Thursday, when the decision came down. They didn't want the headlines, but the right-wing members know this was a base issue, to rally their base, to come out, these conspiracy theories about a way to control gun violence, a secret attempt by the president to get gun control in place. I mean, how beholden is this party to the NRA? How far have they moved to the right for this to happen?       

KAREN FINNEY: I mean, this is the best example of what Katrina was just talking about in terms of the grip that big money has on politics. Because those 17 members likely did not vote the way they did because that's what their constituents would want. Were they to make their argument about, "here's what I support, here's what I don't" -- they were afraid of the ads that would be run against them by the NRA and the outspending, the outside spending against them.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis