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Rep. Parker Griffith switches sides

225px-Rep._Parker_Griffith.jpgIn substantive terms, I'm not particularly surprised that Rep. Parker Griffith, a freshman Democrat from Alabama, is joining the Republicans. Barack Obama got 37 percent in Griffith's district, and Griffith himself voted against the budget, the stimulus, cap and trade, financial regulation, heath-care reform, and talked about voting against making Nancy Pelosi speaker. When you've got a guy from a Republican district who votes like a Republican when people are watching and is facing an election where Republicans are likely to win back marginal seats, it's not that difficult to predict what's about to happen.

But the optics of these things are bad for Democrats, and it's more evidence that 2010 is going to be a Republican year. More specifically for health-care reform, Griffith is a radiation oncologist, and the GOP is going to use his switch to whip up a doctors-against-health-care story. That might work, but only because the media isn't always that bright. Last night, the American Medical Association -- which is the largest doctor's association -- endorsed the Senate bill. The most recent major poll I've seen of doctors was released by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation in September, and it showed that doctors not only support health-care reform, but they also support its more liberal ideas, like the public option and Medicare buy-in.

Say what you will about Griffith, but a freshman congressman from Alabama who's terrified about his reelection is not really a representative sample of the medical community.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 12:10 PM ET
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When a Dem from anywhere BUT the southeast switches parties it should merit a raised eyebrow or too.

his might have some implications for some blue-dogs, but unlike the 1990s, I could actually see the party flips concentrated in just one part of the country backfiring against the GOP.

What they need to do is expand their image and force people to rethink their attitudes about the party. This one -- the white southern, middle-aged male -- seems to fit well within the GOP stereotype.

Posted by: JPRS | December 22, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Dog bites man. Isn't the real surprise that he was a Democrat from Alabama in the first place?

Posted by: steveandshelley | December 22, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Food for thought. Note which states tax groceries.

Two states continue to apply their sales tax fully to food purchased for home consumption without providing any offsetting relief for low- and moderate-income families. They are Alabama and Mississippi.

You figure Republican's, party switchers like Griffith and their teabagging ilk, Armey, Norquest etc. would be outraged at this but since the tax falls disproportionally on the poor and working class they pay no mind.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | December 22, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Since Griffith was only good for a vote for a Democratic Speaker of the House -- and wasn't even reliable for that -- I say don't let the door hit you on the way out. Frankly, I was surprised to find out that there was a white Democratic congressman from Alabama to begin with.

Posted by: JEinATL | December 22, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

GOP activists are already planning to primary him. Epic fail.

Posted by: eleander | December 22, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Let him go. Rather have him show his true colors than be an unreliable turncoat. And while I have no doubt the Dems will lose some seats in 2010 (as does the major party in virtually any off-year election), no matter all the media pundits' hand-wringing I don't see the public flocking to the GOP.

And the more the GOP stonewalls and shoots themselves in the foot (voting against military funding?), the more ad fodder the Democrats have available.

Posted by: SierraJeff | December 22, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

My god, I love the South.

Another, really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: stephenwhelton | December 22, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

A phony democrat from a Alabama would not be missed. He stil lives in the plantation slave world. Who cares if he is switching!!!

Posted by: ameys1msncom | December 22, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, he voted with the Democrats 86% of the time.

Posted by: seraphina | December 22, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"When you've got a guy from a Republican district who votes like a Republican when people are watching and is facing an election where Republicans are likely to win back marginal seats,"

"Say what you will about Griffith, but a freshman congressman from Alabama who's terrified about his reelection is not really a representative sample of the medical community."


Featured on the WAPO every week day.

He's good for some bitter shots, he's good at hyperbole (see Lieberman article) and he's the most loyal of loyal Libertards.


Posted by: Magox | December 22, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Finally...a Democrat with some brains and courage of his convictions! I hope he serves a role model for other Democrats. He reflects the views of ~70% of Americans. Pelosi, Reid & Odumba just don't get it...but they will get it in November 2010! Without Doubt, Vote Them Out!!

Posted by: my4653 | December 22, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The goobers will not retake the House in 2010. And it is wishful thinking to think that they will. The polls and the demographics are against them.

As for Griffith, good riddance. Now, if we could just get Judas Joe Lieberman to be an honest man for once in his life, he'd go and sit with his bosom buddy John "Many Mansions" McCain.

Posted by: WhatHeSaid | December 22, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the Dems are in big trouble in Northern Alabama. Katie, bar the door!

Posted by: dudh | December 22, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"Griffith is a radiation oncologist, and the GOP is going to use his switch to whip up a doctors-against-health-care story. "

Cool. Let's talk about overpaid radiation specialists who decide to make even more money from real estate investment and kickback-based referrals.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | December 22, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"That might work, but only because the media is sometimes not that bright." Well thank God for people like you Ezra Klein to explain the truth to us, a beacon of light in a dumb media universe. The arrogance of people like Klein are suppassed only by their ignorance.

Posted by: MrRealistic | December 22, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr Klein, what is the purpose of your article other than to demonstrate that you can read The Politico or some other right winger site and crow over a white, southerner going from Dem to Rep? This is a non-story about a soon to be non-starter in the manic conservative movement. Do you honestly think that even the most blue of blue dogs could come close to becoming something the republican taliban would vote for? I think you need to put the Liquid Paper cap back on and go get some fresh air.

Posted by: monel7191 | December 22, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't think democrats really understand just how angry people are over this healthcare bill. They will own this bill and the incredible anger in the electorate that goes with it. I predict there will not be another democratic president for at least another four terms starting 2012.

Posted by: lrvs | December 22, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

He's where he belongs.

Posted by: m_richert | December 22, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Given the mad pace of political life in this country, I find the efforts to predict 2010 outcomes premature. I also find them tied mostly to Democratic poll misfortunes associated with governance, but not weighing the GOP's sorry image as well. One party's efforts at governance meeting resistance don't automatically translate into opposition gains. You need attractive candidates and an alternative vision for the country that transcends tax cuts. I don't think this rump and regional party is close to connecting with voters in what is, arguably, a Democratic era.

Posted by: highwayscribery1 | December 22, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,..You state that the AMA's endorsement of the Senate and House bills means that any media who accept the "doctors don't like the health bill" argument are not very bright....I suggest you do a little honest journalistic research on the AMA. LESS THAN 20% of practicing doctors in the U.S. are members of the AMA. When you take student doctors out of that number (most medical colleges require or coerce them into joining), the number drops to almost 15%...The survey you mentioned was conducted based on AMA mailing data, so was a self-selecting non-scientific sample of AMA members, not all doctors. I'm related to more than 7 doctors, and I know more than 30, and every one of them, democrat and republican alike, are opposed to these bills. Nothing will make a darn bit of difference until medical malpractice reform is real, and medicare/medicaid is fixed, and open competition across state lines for insurance is real. This bill is nothing more than attempt to shove us closer and closer to single payer further down the road. But then, you probably already know that, and like that idea.

Posted by: butterbar25 | December 22, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

hope he has a challenge in the primary.hes neither a republican nor democrat but an opportunist.we have a fair number of them in the party really wants him just his vote he will never any responibility in the house.

Posted by: donaldtucker | December 22, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

amongst Democrats is "Parker who?"
Loosing a freshman representative from Alabama who is a political nobody who no one has heard of before today and no one will hear from (most likely) in the future does not make for a really - really bad day. And we are talking about the House not the Senate. It think the consensus amongst Democrats is "Parker who?"

a really - really bad day for a Democrat is any day Sarah Palin speaks, only because we cannot understand how stupid some people are and more disconcerting is that she has followers.

One last thing, for all their griping the South is the largest recipient of Federal Funds for welfare, government health care, housing, etc. In fact in many cases they receive more money than they pay out. And the traditionally Democratic States are the ones who pay the tab. I am 100000% for less Federal Government spending and taxation. That money should go to the individual States. Screw the South.

My god, I love the South.

Another, really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: stephenwhelton

Posted by: rcc_2000 | December 22, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Congressman Griffith doesn't want to be a lapdog to Nancy P.

Posted by: wilson10 | December 22, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Erza... you seem to imply that it was some fluke that a Dem held AL CD-5 calling it a GOP district. A GOP candidate hasn't been elected to that seat since 1869. And I think once the current GOP pits a teabag candidate against Griffith in the primary that streak will continue.

Posted by: denver67 | December 22, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse


Kid, of course the AMA supports Medicare buy-in.

If you knew anything about history -- you don't seem to -- you'd know it was LBJ and AMA that got Medicare fee-for-service.


Kid, try reading history. You'll find it helpful.

Posted by: russpoter | December 22, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

This guy is a tea bagger anyway. Good riddance. Even if the party of NO regains all the 48 seats in those districts McCain won in '08, it would still have a deficit of at least 31 seats and I don't expect that. Maybe 10 to 15 seats, but no more. I expect the Dems to retain control of both houses in 2010. Furthermore, we are a long way from 2010 and once the dems start enacting laws, the polls would eventually change. The people love a winner and the dems will be following the healthcare vote. Trust me, republicans will probably want healthcare to be a thing of the past. They have no second act if things start looking up. And to my fellow lefties, it's easier to change a bill once it's being enacted than to go back from zero. Let's keep focus, shall we?

Posted by: fgerald0204 | December 22, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Alabama isn't really a representative sample of the country either.

Posted by: twm1 | December 22, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

This Lieberman/ Nelson type is not providing a surprise or any indicators. He was a Republican who went astray. This certainly is not a sign of a Republican rise in 2010. The two new Republican governors are already proving to be dirtbags (one is an all-out Bushie, cutting over a billion in tax slashing for the wealthiest).

Also, the Republicans did more than anyone to reveal themselves to be fringe extremists who are a danger to our nation. They lie at least as much as Fox "News." The crazier ones (Palin, Wilson, Bachmann) are far removed from living in reality and would benefit from time in psychiatric hospitals.

Posted by: revbookburn | December 22, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

One less spy in the Democratic caucus. Did Parker not know what the Dem positions were when he ran as a Democrat. Not real bright even for someone from Alabama.

Maybe this will help explain things ....

Posted by: James10 | December 22, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like a dang liberal to me....

Posted by: James10 | December 22, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Harry Reid threw Blanche Lincoln under the bus. If she wants to be re-elected she should be next to change over or she will end up being the future American ambassador to Moldova or Albania.

Posted by: mwhoke | December 22, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Ezra's right - the media ain't that smart and that includes him.

The AMA supports Obamacare! Yowza! that's impressive until you do a little research and find out that less than 1/2 of all docs belong to the AMA and therefore the AMA doesn't really speak for doctors.

But the "optics" of that are still good. And another little media Obama bootlicker gets to write another fatuous little piece.

Posted by: bandmom22 | December 22, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Republicans screw up so then the Democrats say vote for me. The Democrats screw up so then the Republicans say vote for me....and it continues. Some "land of the free"!!!

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Posted by: huangzhixian175 | December 22, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Hey here's another bit of proof. I have this old frying pan whose sides are at right angles to its base. Last night I had some baked chicken and after dinner put the bones near the radiator where they dried out. Anyway I put the bones in the pan and shook it. Guess what?? The arrangement of the bones shows a bad omen for the dems. The thing is that only people who don't like the dems and want the GOP to win the next election cycles can make out the arrangement. To everyone else it just looks like a bunch of chicken bones in a pan.

Posted by: eastlander | December 22, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

MerrillFrank ~ Virginia, which presently has a Democrat governor and two Democrat senators ALSO taxes food. I was just at the grocery store so I know that's true ~ no break for the poor or hungry Fur Shur.

So, what's your point?

Posted by: muawiyah | December 22, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

This is hardly news. It's virtually impossible to run with a D behind your name in these putrid Taliban-controlled areas of the country. In these deep, filthy red states you need to be an evolution denier, never have travelled more than 10 miles from your home town, and think climate science is a commie plot to steal your money and SUVs. It's kind of hard to be in a modern party like the Democratic one and have these 15th century beliefs at the same time.

Posted by: B2O2 | December 22, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

What's the big deal, a hillbilly going to the GOP. ????

Posted by: shipfreakbo214 | December 22, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

muawiyah, the point is that "low tax" states, of which Virginia is one that tries to market itself in such a way, are fine with levying taxes, as long as they hit the poor disproportionately in their pocketbooks for necessities. And to claim that we should stop hitting the poor in their pocketbooks by making food tax-free and raising income taxes on the wealthy would be met by howls of outrage by the right-wingers. Much of the "low tax" fervor you see in the south in thinly0veiled ressentiment at the poor, and taxing their food, which they spend a disproportionate amount of their income on compared to others, is considered a nice way to take out their hostility on them.

Don't look at me, I am just a guy who lived much of his life in a civilized place like Massachusetts that didn't tax food or clothing. Maybe if crazy places like Alabama and the deranged republican-controlled VA legislature came to their senses, they'd do the same thing.

Posted by: tyromania | December 22, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Also, muawiyah, you seem to be under the mistaken understanding that United States senators set state sales taxes. I suggest you brush up on your civics lessons.

Posted by: tyromania | December 22, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

If you go back to what CBPP cited Alabama and Miss are the only states that do not provide an offset for low income earners. Most of the other states do. As far as VA goes the Rep. legislature, Macacca Allen did not seem concerned and all Gilmore cared about was the car tax.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | December 23, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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