WASHINGTON — Succumbing to the insecurities weighing on Democrats after losing Ted Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, another key Democratic senator says it’s time to take a step back and embark on a less ambitious agenda.
“I think the President Is going to have to scale back his agenda after we pass health care reform,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in an interview with ABC News.
Echoing a common theme among pundits and conservative Democrats, Nelson said, “I think he’s allowed the left wing pull him too much in that direction.”
Nelson said the ideal option on health care would be to pass the Senate bill through the House, but that isn’t possible he suggested removing some provisions to win over Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).
Nelson isn’t alone in his view that liberals are hurting the party. Before Tuesday’s election results were announced, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) blamed Democrats’ woes on “the furthest left elements of the Dem party attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country.”
“The only we are able to govern successfully in this country is by liberals and progressives making common cause with independents and moderates,” Bayh told ABC News.
Democratic strategist Lanny Davis echoed this claim in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Blame the Left for Massachusetts.”
But a number of prominent writers argue it’s irrational and unfair to blame progressives for the Democrats’ woes.
The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein responded to Bayh’s assertion by saying progressives “have gotten exactly nothing they wanted in recent months.”
“If [Democrats] don’t believe in the importance of their policies, why should anyone who’s skeptical change their mind?” Klein said. “If they’re not interested in actually passing their agenda, why should voters who agree with Democrats on the issues work to elect them?
“The notion that Obama’s policies are too ‘liberal’ for the country is simply absurd, given that these are exactly the policies on which he successfully campaigned,” argued Glenn Greenwald in a New York Times‘ expose on the election.
“The Left wanted a single-payer system, then settled for a public option, then an opt-out public option, then Medicare expansion — only to get none of it,” Greenwald added on his Salon blog.
Progressive activist Darcy Burner said the Democrats’ problem is that they’re alienating their own base. “Perhaps if the Democratic base doesn’t show up to elect Coakley, party leadership should consider *trying to appeal* to the base,” she wrote on Twitter.