John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


My Brother’s Mother-in-Law

Posted on November 9, 2009

I was in South Bend this weekend and stayed at my brother’s in-law’s house the night after the game (the drive back to Chicago was just a bit too long).

The next morning, two things were of top concern of the house. One, the dreadful play of the Notre Dame squad. We all agreed that Notre Dame’s coach, Charlie Weiss, had to go.

House passage of the health care was another top concern. My brother’s mother-in-law was particularly incensed about the Obama health care agenda. She was very concerned about the cost of the package, the possible impact of government on health care quality, and the real possibility that her taxes were going to go up to pay for it.

I was particularly interested in what she told me next. She said that she got three phone calls from organizations that supported the President’s health care plan. She used those calls as an opportunity to phone her Senator and lodge her complaints about the bill to Evan Bayh.

As she related to me, “if Senator Bayh votes for this, I am going to do everything I can to make sure he loses the next election.”

She was clearly frustrated with what was going on in Washington. “They just aren’t listening to what we want,” she told me. “We don’t want this bill.”

She didn’t get any phone calls from opponents of the bill, which leads me to believe that the Republican grassroots machine (if there is such a thing) certainly wasn’t working overtime and probably can’t compete with the Democrats.

The Democratic machine, on the other hand, seems to working just fine. Three phone calls to one house to lobby for a piece of legislation is impressive. The Obama White House has the grassroots power. But it doesn’t seem to matter, because many Americans know what they want, and they don’t want what the Democrats are passing.

I was talking to a friend of mine who is close to the Democratic Blue Dogs. He told that one of his guys voted for the bill because he couldn’t alienate his base. If he voted with the Republicans, he may have survived a general election, but not a primary. If he voted with the Democrats, he will probably survive a primary, but now has irreparably broken faith with Independent voters.

Tough call for those moderates. After talking to my brother’s mother-in-law, my guess is that a vote for this bill means the end of line for pretty much any moderate Democrat.

And given how the Obama grassroots machine has been inspiring independent voters to call Senators like Evan Bayh to protest against the bill, my guess is that the Pelosi bill dies in the Senate.

Charlie Weiss will probably get fired by the end of the year. Many Congressional Democrats will get the same treatment next November.