This didn't change the outcome of today's House vote on Sandy aid -- the $9.7 billion bill passed the House 354-67 -- but remember, this was just a vote on the first package of Sandy aid, and Republicans are now on notice that they really, really mustn't vote for the second (and much larger) bill that's coming up, which means that they'll block it, water it down, or force big cuts to other social programs in return for it:
The conservative Club for Growth said Friday that it will punish House members who voted for a flood insurance measure aimed at helping pay for Hurricane Sandy’s damage.Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform also opposed the bill.
The Club will "key-vote" the measure, using it to compile an annual rating for each lawmaker....
"Congress should not allow the federal government to be involved in the flood insurance industry in the first place, let alone expand the National Flood Insurance Program's authority," a statement from the Club's Andy Roth said.
This is when I envy the right; it's when I wish our side was as good at developing and mainstreaming a narrative as the right is. If the sides were reversed and a left-leaning organization did something like this, every right-wing media outlet in America would have a story up with a headline such as "LIB GROUP DEMANDS NO VOTE ON HURRICANE AID." And the large heartland audience for right-wing news coverage would be angry at Democratic politicians as a group -- even the ones who resisted the pressure and voted yes. That's because the message of right-wing media, every hour of every day, is that every Democrat and liberal deserves the blame for anything objectionable done by anyone identified as a member of our side, whether it's Sean Penn or the New Black Panthers or Media Matters or Nancy Pelosi. To the right, we're all one big evil hydra-headed beast. And the consumers of right-wing media know the names of our organizations. Fox and talk radio repeatedly use them in their Two-Minutes' Hates. So this would be a PR disaster.
On our side, by contrast, a small sliver of the population -- the audience for lefty blogs and MSNBC prime time -- knows what the Club for Growth is, and knows about its relationship to the GOP. But the vast majority of the country -- the vast majority of Democratic voters, in fact -- have never heard of the Club for Growth. Which means that the Club for Growth can talk like this with impunity without embarrassing the politicians it's trying to pressure.
I'm happy that the GOP has lost a lot of its luster recently. But I'm sorry that there isn't a much larger percentage of the population that understands the depth and breath of right-wing rot, and how all the right's outposts work together. It means the right can get away with this kind of thing, knowing it will fly under most non-conservative voters' radar.