Revenge -- a dish best eaten cold ?
In comments on their blogs I accuse Brad DeLong and Matthew Yglesias, because I think they blame the wrong senators for the fact that the stimulus was too small. I don't have much confidence in my understanding of the Senate and they might be right.
My argument was based on the idea that it is useful to punish legislators who make bad decisions long after they make the decision. One advantage is that hindsight is useful in determining which decisions were bad decisions. Another advantage, and one which I think is key, is that this is unusual.
Legislators are flooded with e-mails letters and calls asking them to vote this or that way. Many people try to influence them with threats and promises. A legislator doesn't have to care if a constituent is so mad today that he won't vote for the legislator today. There is no election today. A legislator sure does have to care about constituents who hold grudges.
I think an e-mail about how a vote 6 months ago was a terrible mistake or was an excellent decision might get some attention. Several in a row probably would. The bored junior legislative aid handling the correspondence might notice something out of the ordinary. In any case, evidence that people are still mad now and might still be mad on election day is very useful to legislators who are trying to get re-elected.
Another way of putting it is that lobby's are powerful, because they demonstrate that they keep score, that they will remember votes and remind potential voters and contributors. Bloggers can do that too.