We'll be saying more about this in the coming days. But I wanted to note something about former Congressman Tim Roemer, who's currently a candidate to be Chairman of the DNC -- and has the improbable support, I'm told, of Minority Leaders Reid and Pelosi.
We've already noted that he voted against the Filner Amendment, which would have put him in the Fainthearted Faction had he still been in Congress today -- though he campaigned against privatization in the 2002 election. Others meanwhile are understandably concerned about his opposition to abortion rights.
But here's something I didn't know.
Roemer was one of the Democrats that voted against the Clinton budget of 1993 -- the one that in the end won by a single vote and cost Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky and so many others their seats. (Not just the big vote, but a number that led up to it.) Then he was one of an even smaller number of Democrats who voted for President Bush's 2001 Budget bill. If I'm not mistaken, he was one of only 9 Dems in the House to vote to make the Bush cuts permanent the following year.
As I've said many times before, with a very few exceptions, we shouldn't view a politician's entire career through the prism of a single vote. But those two votes are awfully significant. They frame the mammoth fiscal challenges the country faces today. And they are at the root of the Democratic party's current claim to be the party of growth, equity, fiscal responsibility and economic stewardship. To me at least, that's a very important part of what the Democratic party stands for today.
When Democrats claim credit, as they rightly do again and again, for bringing the country from perpetual deficits to surpluses in the 1990s, a major part of what they're talking about has to be the 1993 budget bill. When they denounce the Republicans as the party of deficits, fiscal recklessness and enemies of Social Security, in an equal measure, they're talking about President Bush's 2001 bill.
Yet both of those arguments, by definition, are one's Roemer simply cannot make because he was on the other side of the issue both times. At best he would be a mockery whenever he debated Republicans on anything to do with fiscal policy since he consistently voted with them and not his own party. And no doubt they'd point that out.
I've said before that I've always thought Roemer seemed like he had a lot of attractive qualities as a politician. He was great on the 9/11 Commission. And the Democratic party certainly needs to be open to people who dissent from the party's majority position on even such a central issue as this. But I just cannot understand how someone with those votes and that over-arching position can be the titular head of the Democratic party. It just doesn't make sense. And I can't see how the party's leadership in the House and Senate could be supporting him either.