Last night when I arrived at MSNBC David Shuster told me that Jim Cooper’s office had called. They saw I was going to be on 1600 and wanted Cooper to come on and debate me. (I assume he’s unhappy about things like this, this and this.) We were scheduled to discuss the State of the Union so they said there wasn’t time, but it appears Cooper found another outlet for his aggro:
Jim Cooper has been taking new hits lately on the liberal blogs after President Obama failed to invite our congressman to his fabulous "fiscal responsibility summit." The mighty Kos says, "There’s no incumbent I’d love to see primaried more than Jim Cooper." Jane Hamsher says Obama agreed to host the summit because Cooper was pushing for one in December. "But when the list of invitees to the summit was released today, no Jim Cooper." For reasons, she points out Cooper’s media bloopers of the past month.
In response, Cooper flack John Spragens tells Pith:
"I don’t know Jane Hamsher, but the notion that President Obama held a fiscal responsibility summit because Jim Cooper demanded it, while flattering, is wrong. I think you’ll hear in tonight’s speech that the president actually believes in long-term fiscal reponsibility, honest budgeting and the need to make tough choices in order to keep our social safety net strong. I don’t think those are very radical or irresponsible ideas, or that the president is insincere when he says he’s concerned about them. He and Jim see eye-to-eye on these issues. I do wish Jane would use Jim’s current photo though… or maybe one of his many blue dog caricatures."
That’s pretty amusing. If Cooper and Obama see "eye to eye on the issues," they seem to have had a schism over Obama’s wish to have the stimulus bill on his desk by President’s day, which left Cooper describing the rush as "an abomination." And when Chris Cillizza first reported that the fiscal responsibility summit, he said:
Those invited to attend will include Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (N.D.), ranking minority member Judd Gregg (N.H.), the conservative Democratic Blue Dog coalition and a host of outside groups with ideas on the matter, said the president-elect.
Cooper is a Blue Dog. In fact, it was Cooper who reported on December 15 that the Blue Dogs had asked Obama for a fiscal responsibility summit. Obama had singled out Cooper as "integral to his plans" when he first spoke to House Democrats after he clinched the nomination last summer, saying "“Cooper gets it." So when he wasn’t invited to the summit, people noticed:
Leading up to the high-profile gathering, a number of Democratic officials said they assumed it would be only logical for Cooper to be there if entitlement reform — which has become the Tennessee Democrat’s signature issue — was going to be discussed.
Leadership aides in the House suggested that the White House chose to keep the attendance list limited to congressional leadership and committee and subcommittee chairmen.
At the same time, a number of Cooper’s Blue Dog Coalition colleagues who are neither current Blue Dog leaders nor legislative committee or subcommittee chairmen — including Reps. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) — were in attendance.
And as the ample press coverage of the event showed, there were plenty of empty seats.
I hope Cooper will take some consolation in the fact that we are now using one of his current photos. Jim’s been good to us — it’s the least we could do.