Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) isn't making any friends in his party today. As a Blue Dog, the two-term congressman often finds reason to buck his party's leadership, but on Monday, he went further than usual.
Shuler, one of 11 House Democrats who voted against the stimulus, criticized Democratic leaders in Congress for what he said was a failure to deal in a bipartisan fashion with opponents of the bill. "In order for us to get the confidence of America, it has to be done in a bipartisan way," he said. "We have to have everyone -- Democrats and Republicans standing on the stage with the administration -- saying 'We got something done that was efficient, stimulative and timely.'"
Like many of his Republican colleagues, Shuler praised President Obama for his attempts to reach out to members of Congress who were against the stimulus. The congressman's criticism was focused on Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who he said didn't listen to his concerns. "I truly feel that's where maybe House leadership and Senate leadership have really failed," Shuler said.
This sort of thing might not be great for the former NFL quarterback's political future. Politico's Glenn Thrush observes, "Shuler, rumored to be mulling a '10 Senate run... was already deep in Pelosi's doghouse. Now he'll have to build a Harry Reid wing."
Update: Reid spokesman Jim Manley fires back:
Let me get this straight - this is coming from a guy who threw more than twice as many interceptions than touchdowns?
Maybe Someone should tell congressman Shuler that under the leadership of President Obama we have put together a bipartisan bill that will create or save 3 to 4 million jobs, and that We have been more than willing to work with our republican friends. We have accepted some of their ideas and will continue to do so. But not at the expense of creating jobs, investing in our future of helping the middle class. He can stand on a stage if he wants, but senate democrats are busy trying to pass legislation that will provide essential investments designed to create and save jobs.
It's true, by the way -- Shuler's NFL career was embarrassingly bad. In his defense, though, he played three of his five seasons for the Washington Redskins.