OK, so I just got done defending Senator McCaskill's relatively mild comments about health care reform. However, it's also worth pointing out a couple of things she's done that are pretty clear pandering to the far Right and do fall into the terrible political strategy of a Democrats pretending to be Republicans. First, her suggestion of spending caps is horrible given that, were it passed, it would appear to inevitably lead to cuts in social security. And though I think there's little chance of it passing, McCaskill's public comments feed perfectly into the long-running Republican narratives about "spending bad! government bad!" that prevent progress from occurring. Then there's her recent decision to co-sponsor a bill with Senator Rockefeller preventing the EPA from regulating carbon emissions for two years. As pointed out by Ed S. on my facebook wall, this would not only be damaging in itself, but also would inevitably lead to a situation similar to the Bush tax cuts, where gutless politicians reframe the debate as if letting the temporary act expire would be some new radical change. There are some things we can plausibly put off for political reasons: but acting on climate change is not one of those.
It's also surely worth nothing that the far Right is very clear that they are not impressed by Democrats who try to pander to them:
I'm sure tea partiers aren't really the people Senator McCaskill is trying to reach, as they are nowhere near the center, even in Missouri. However, as Maddow noted, history has shown that running as a conservadem is not a winning strategy. Robin Carnahan's attempts to distance herself from Obama did not gain her any ground. McCaskill has an extremely tough challange in attempting to win in Missouri, but she can't do it by adopting the Republican line on core issues.