Post Politics: Cooper just doesn’t scare easily

Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 11:45pm

It’s really amazing how much effort national progressives are putting into going after Jim Cooper.

Posts by national bloggers giving Coop crap for pushing a health care reform bill that doesn’t provide for a public option is one thing, but actually going to the trouble of setting up an anti-Cooper Web site and talking of trying to recruit a primary challenger is unnecessary.

It is excessive and it is misguided. More progressive-minded folks than I have already weighed in on this subject. A political operative, the city’s feminist conscience in the blogosphere and a former Music City Democrat have all picked a side — against the national interlopers.

Is Coop the most progressive congressman Nashville could produce? Certainly not. But is that enough a reason to turn him out?

Elective office is and should be less secure than a regular job but what has Cooper really done to deserve a pink slip?

Rep. Cooper is a good Congressman. He speaks his mind and he serves his constituents. He deserves to keep his job unless some candidate can provide a compelling reason not to.

The fact that Coop thinks outside the box and promotes health care reform solutions that do not include the exalted public option is not really a compelling reason.

Do these progressives really think that Cooper is their enemy? This is not Lincoln Davis we are talking about after all — this is Jim Cooper. Do these interlopers really believe Cooper would vote against the public option if it came down to it?

These interlopers simply do not know Nashville if they think the city’s Democrats are going to turn out Coop on the basis of health care reform. Given the chance, it’s highly debatable that voters would vote out Cooper in favor of a highly qualified progressive.

But the major point here is that they will never get that chance.
Accountability Now can talk their trash all they want. They can pretend like they are recruiting a legitimate candidate to challenge our congressman but no one to the right of Chris Lugo would ever seriously consider a primary challenge of Cooper.

Until these national progressives can convince a Jason Holleman or fellow Metro council member Megan Barry to lose their political minds, this is all going to be wasted effort better used elsewhere.
This push isn’t even going to scare Cooper. If Accountability Now could field even a semi-legit candidate, maybe the effort could yield some fruit and scare Cooper into working harder in promoting the public option.

But let’s be honest, Cooper doesn’t scare. He’s been around the block a few times and he has done his homework. He is politically protected and he is confident in his position on the issue. National progressives are wasting their time.

It would clear to them if they spent anytime at all with Democrats in this city. There will be a time to elect a true progressive for the 5th District and that is the day Jim Cooper retires. Until then, national progressives should keep their powder dry and concentrate on battles they can win and places where they can make a difference.

If national progressives really want to help the cause, they should concentrate on the state Legislature. Considering how ‘red’ Tennessee has become, it still is an amazing feat that its congressional delegation is still majority Democrat.

If the Democrats cannot recapture the Legislature and Republicans hold the redistricting pen, every Democratic congressman but Cooper is going to be vulnerable.

You really want to help progressives in Tennessee? Help them take back the Legislature and prevent the GOP from redistricting them back to the Stone Age. Then you can start building a new progressive and populist Democratic Party in Tennessee.

But messing with a true statesman who may be a smudge to the right of his district? That’s just inane.

Kleinheider is's political blogger. Visit Post Politics at

Filed under: City Voices

1 Comment on this post:

By: idgaf on 10/5/09 at 4:12

Is this paper on his payroll?

When the time comes he will vote the way Nancy wants him to vote like he did on all the other spending bills.