In the grand Democratic tradition of Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry, the Democrats seem determined once again to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as this year’s front-runners beat one another bloody in the run-up to a fight that should be as much a lock as the first Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas fight. And we all know how that turned out.
In just a few shorts weeks, the Democrats have gone from “The Politics of Hope” to “The Politics of ‘I Hope You Die in a House Fire’”.
Thank heaven no one watches CNN any more lest their children have wandered in and seen this deplorable internecine eye-scratching and groin-punching. Hillary and Obama were like controlled apes, stopping just short of shrieking and tossing their feces at one another, but not by much, and probably only because they were on national television. It was all John Edwards could do not to pop a beer and sit back and watch the animals in their cage match, and just hope none of it got on his suit.
“Senator Clinton, I’m not going to stand here and let you characterize my opposition to a flawed sexual victims rights bill as advocating full employment on demand for child-molesting gym teachers. I would no sooner stand for that than I would accuse you of using your position on the board at Wal-Mart to sentence millions of Chinese six-year-olds to 80-h0ur-a-week jobs at prisoner’s wages just so you can buy cheap pantsuits. No, I won’t go there.
“And let’s set the record straight on another matter: When I was speaking with the Reno Gazette editorial board, I only acknowledged that Ronald Reagan brought ideas to a country and a Republican party that was clamoring for a new direction, and changed the trajectory of American politics. I never said that I admired his firm buttocks and broad shoulders as I watched him chop wood at his California ranch when I was a young man growing up watching CNN.”
For a campaign where both sides have been trotting out the Gipper, virtually none has invoked his 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” Or Democrat. The recurring refrain throughout this once somewhat civil campaign was that the Dems had their best chance in a generation to take back the White House (only a mid-season entry by Ross Perot in 1992 cleared the way for Bill Clinton to beat Bush, Sr.) and that should keep to the high road and save their vitriol for the fall race, no matter which of their very able and capable selves should win the nomination.
That’s all very easy to say when the campaign is early or when you’re only in the race to jockey for a cabinet position. When you’ve tasted the adulation and been so close to being the Anointed One, as both Hillary and Barack have been in the last few weeks, magnanimity is just another five-syllable word you’ll put aside for another day.
Meanwhile, expect the bloodbath to continue, and to play right into the Dems’ history of destroying themselves. With a Republican slate as feeble as it is this year, they may yet win in spite of themselves, especially if Hillary and Barack can hold their noses, regardless of which of them wins, and put their names together on the bumper stickers this fall, put their differences aside, and hit the road to peel Romney-Huckabee apart like an onion, or to play the “heartbeat away” card to the aging McCain and his running mate, Governor Huckabee. In the meantime, keep your poncho handy, and don’t tune in until you’ve poured a drink and put the kids to bed.