New brand and colors for the Pity Party

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRU­DEN

The Repub­li­cans are try­ing out new brand­ing and new colors for Novem­ber. The Stupid Party has be­come the Pity Party. Hang­ing tough is too much trou­ble for gentlemen.

Repub­li­cans in the U.S. Se­nate are said to be “de­spon­dent” over their re­elec­tion prospects, and pun­dits look­ing for new ways to pile on Don­ald Trump are search­ing for syn­onyms for “de­spon­dent.”

The Grumpy Old Party should can­cel the news­pa­pers, pull the plug on the tele­vi­sion, turn off the In­ter­net, take two ex­tra-strength Mi­dols and lie down for a nap.

Even Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona, who wrote the book on courage and char­ac­ter un­der fire, re­sorts to refuge in the party’s per­ma­nent cam­paign mantra: “Vote Repub­li­can. We’re not as bad as you think.”

There’s a les­son here for those in the Pity Party who think def­er­ence and diffidence will make a par­ti­san tor­men­tor go easy. They should take a tip from the Democrats. They’re stuck with a crook for a can­di­date, but they’ll never tell.

Sen. McCain fell into the me­dia gaffe trap Thurs­day, speak­ing plain truth when he ob­served that Pres­i­dent Obama is “di­rectly re­spon­si­ble” for the mas­sacre in Or­lando be­cause by de­sert­ing the bat­tle­field to “lead from be­hind” he en­abled the Is­lamic State to pros­per on his watch.

When one of the re­porters who talked to the sen­a­tor in a cor­ri­dor — Mr. McCain is nearly al­ways will­ing to talk to re­porters, un­like some of his col­leagues — asked him if he re­ally meant that the pres­i­dent was “di­rectly” re­spon­si­ble, he said “yes,” and ex­plained the ob­vi­ous: “He pulled ev­ery­body out of Iraq, and I pre­dicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked, and there would be at­tacks on the United States of Amer­ica. It’s a mat­ter of record, so he is di­rectly re­spon­si­ble.”

The Democrats and oth­ers who faint at the sound of plain and sim­ple lan­guage pounced. How dare he, when Pres­i­dent Obama was at that very mo­ment in Or­lando as­sur­ing the friends and fam­i­lies of the dead, whom he had be­trayed with his re­luc­tance to fight, that the enor­mous Obama heart was just as bro­ken as theirs. It was as if Sen. McCain had ac­cused the pres­i­dent of reload­ing the pis­tol while Omar Ma­teen was fir­ing away at the dancers with the as­sault ri­fle.

The lady run­ning against the sen­a­tor in Novem­ber, Rep. Ann Kirk­patrick, ac­cused him of cross­ing “a danger­ous line” at “the very mo­ment the pres­i­dent was in Or­lando to com­fort vic­tims’ fam­i­lies.” Sen. Harry Reid, who has just about run his course as the leader of the Demo­cratic mi­nor­ity in the Se­nate, sent his press agent out to say that Mr. McCain’s in­dict­ment of the pres­i­dent’s mis­fea­sance “is just the lat­est proof that Se­nate Repub­li­cans are pup­pets of Don­ald Trump.”

Some of the Repub­li­cans in the Se­nate were ea­ger to add to Demo­cratic scorn for the Don­ald. Jeff Flake of Ari­zona was happy to to­tal up the 16 mil­lion votes Mr. Trump won in the pri­maries and to point out with a cer­tain glee that he’ll need 65 mil­lion in Novem­ber and isn’t likely to get them. Susan Collins of Maine says she isn’t sure she will vote Repub­li­can. Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina says Amer­ica “will never win this war [against ter­ror­ism] with­out part­ners in the faith.” Whose faith, he did not say. Bob Corker of Ten­nessee says “Trump con­tin­ues to be dis­cour­ag­ing.”

Sen­a­tors are hu­man, too, and when the go­ing gets tough it’s only hu­man to think of your­self first, as any­one on Capi­tol Hill would tell you (in deed if not in word), and as im­por­tant as elect­ing a pres­i­dent may be it pales against the im­por­tance of a sen­a­tor get­ting him­self re­elected. But they’re obliv­i­ous of the ob­vi­ous, that if Don­ald Trump goes down in a land­slide that Repub­li­can sen­a­tors help make, they’ll go down with him.

Timid and fright­ened men never un­der­stand that if they’ll hang you for steal­ing a goat, you might as well take a sheep. Ben­jamin Franklin put it a lit­tle more el­e­gantly in Philadel­phia. “We must, in­deed, all hang to­gether,” he told the del­e­gates, “or, most as­suredly, we shall all hang sep­a­rately.” That goes dou­ble and some­times triple in mere cam­paign pol­i­tics.

Jim In­hofe of Ok­la­homa, un­like many of his Se­nate col­leagues, thinks the Don­ald is right about rad­i­cal Is­lam, though not about bar­ring Mus­lims from the United States. “Sooner or later you have to say what the re­al­ity is. Rad­i­cal Is­lam is re­spon­si­ble for de­stroy­ing the coun­try. As long as we have an ad­min­is­tra­tion that doesn’t rec­og­nize that, we’re at war, and ev­ery­body knows it but Hil­lary and Obama.” And, of course, the Pity Party, too. Wes­ley Pru­den is ed­i­tor in chief emer­i­tus of The Times.

John McCain

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