All the best stuff happens behind closed doors.
This past week, those of us in the political cheap seats watched an amazing spectacle over the effort to extend the Bush tax cuts. First there was the Obama-McConnell agreement, delivered as a fait accompli, followed up by the DeFazio/Sanders insurrection. I don't know about anyone else, but I had the sense that we were seeing only the tiniest, made-for-TV parts of what was actually happening--and Peter DeFazio obliquely confirmed it in two discussions he had after the fact. First, here's how he described it on NPR:
"Well, the press, which was down the hall, behind--and we were behind closed doors--could hear the chants of 'just say no' which broke out spontaneously just before I offered my resolution. We had be wrangling for a while, and when I finally stood up to offer it, there was a tremendous amount of, I would say, enthusiasm."
There's a story there, clearly, and Jeff Mapes got part of it when he talked to DeFazio himself:
DeFazio said he talked to a couple of his colleagues about taking a resolution to the House caucus. It was something that hadn't been done in the 24 years he's been in Congress, he said. Such a resolution coming from a member could be seen as a threat to the leadership.
And, in fact, DeFazio, said when he started circulating the resolution among members, he started taking some heat.
"There were some people - not the speaker - but some of the people in leadership were yelling at me," said DeFazio, accusing him of causing mischief.
There's a lot more to the story, and a whole lot more to what's happening among Democrats as they plan to deal with this issue. But even cheap-seaters can read some of the writing on the wall. The midterm "shellacking" has reshuffled the deck of negotiators in Washington. For the first two years, Obama worked mainly with the blue dogs and (futilely) with moderate Republicans. After the midterms, he decided to just work with the Republicans. Among Dems, the liberals have been willing (if not always happy) to go along with deals struck in the Senate. But with Obama dealing directly with Republicans, the liberals are jumping ship. Neither Bernie Sanders nor Peter DeFazio are among the leadership, but for one week, they seized the moment.
Politics seem to be getting very interesting.