These presumed “moderate” Democrats, many but not all from the South, above all were supposed to be fiscal conservatives. Elected from conservative-leaning districts, they claimed they would have a moderating effect on Democrats, justifying their elections to represent their districts – a narrative many in the media swallowed uncritically (as the linked article above shows).
In fact, as more prescient observers have noted, the Blue Dogs in reality were lap dogs to the House liberals. When in the minority, they did vote more fiscally conservatively than did the rest of their party. But since then, on all of the major budget-busting issues of the past four years of Democrat control of the House, majorities, mostly large, of Blue Dogs voted for increased spending. You name it, they went for it – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the spending package early in Obama’s term, cash-for-clunkers, Obama's debt-tripling 2010 budget, the auto bailout, and for the federal takeover of health care.
In all, the Lap Dogs voted 80 percent of the time with liberal Democrats on fiscal issues. This does not include the 86 percent of the time they supported suspensions of what they crowed as their biggest achievement in pulling their party closer to the center, “pay-as-you-go” rules that mandated whenever spending was increased in one area, it had to be offset with a cut in another, making the whole enterprise a sham.
So when Louisiana’s outgoing Democrat Rep. Charlie Melancon laments about the pasting Lap Dogs took in the midterm elections, losing over half their members (he being one of them, the only one not to lose reelection but because he opted to tilt spectacularly unsuccessfully for Sen. David Vitter’s seat), asserting they somehow kept his party’s leadership honest, it’s just another con job in an attempt to revise history. Melancon, once a leader of the coalition, is a poster child of the scam: his National Taxpayer Union grades in his five rated years in office were 3 D’s and 2 F’s.
Their record shows the whole movement became a tactic to try to fool voters into thinking they were electing representatives who were one thing on the campaign trail then when in office they were another. The story that some try to circulate that the Lap Dogs got crucified on the campaign trail for the sins of the liberal party leadership doesn’t jive with what their constituents understood: they were not the fiscal conservatives they proclaimed themselves to be, their votes were crucial to passing a lot of bad legislation, and they deserved punishment for selling out those they represented. Let the Blue Dog myth die its overdue, deserved death to which voters will break out in song.