The Demo­cratic han­gover is on the way

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRUDEN

Like it or not, The Democrats will have to come off their cry­ing jag af­ter the in­au­gu­ra­tion. Some of them will need safe spa­ces for a lit­tle while longer, with calm­ing videos of pup­pies and kit­tens. But some se­nior mem­bers of the party un­der­stand that soon even Democrats still deep in an end­less drunk will have to sober up to deal with cold and un­for­giv­ing re­al­ity.

It won’t be easy, be­cause Scotch and vodka (no 15-year-old bour­bon for these wor­thies), pout­ing and hys­te­ria, can be ad­dic­tive. Ev­ery new scheme to trash the Elec­toral Col­lege in­vites another, and there’s al­ways some­one ea­ger to “keep the dream alive,” to make sure “the dream will never die,” and nour­ish other great dreaming mo­ments in the party’s past.

One of the dream­ers, who may have been im­bib­ing some­thing stronger than vodka, is Larry Les­sig, a law pro­fes­sor at Har­vard, who says, as if he knows what he’s talk­ing about, that 20 Repub­li­cans are lined up in the Elec­toral Col­lege to vote against Don­ald Trump when the col­lege meets on Mon­day.

The pro­fes­sor leaves him­self lots of room to wig­gle. “Ob­vi­ously,” he says, “whether an elec­tor ul­ti­mately votes for his or her con­science will de­pend on whether there are enough oth­ers do­ing the same. We now be­lieve there are more than half the num­ber needed to change the re­sult se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing that vote.” There “may” be 20, or they may not, and they “may” be se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing flip­ping their vote, or they may not. Wig­gle, wig­gle.

Prof. Les­sig even of­fers “free le­gal coun­sel” to any elec­tor con­sid­er­ing cast­ing a faith­less vote against the Don­ald, and any faith­less elec­tor tak­ing the free le­gal coun­sel must hope the pro­fes­sor knows more about the law than he does about pol­i­tics.

The Demo­cratic dead-en­ders, sore of head and aft, might dream of blow­ing up the Elec­toral Col­lege, like Guy Fawkes dreaming of blow­ing up the Bri­tish par­lia­ment 500 years ago, but alas for them, there’s no ac­tual Elec­toral Col­lege to blow up. There’s no Stu­dent Union as a place for a pro­fes­sor to prac­tice se­duc­tion skills on im­pres­sion­able young stu­dents, not even a foot­ball team to as­pire to one of the 42 bowl games. The elec­tors meet only in their state cap­i­tals to cast their bal­lots.

Once the agony of a world­class han­gover ar­rives, the Democrats will have to con­sider the dam­age of the drunk. The party of An­drew Jack­son, Poc­a­hon­tas and Hil­lary Clin­ton will be adrift in the swirl and dash of Don­ald Trump’s first hun­dred days, with no one to speak its ver­sion of truth to power.

“It’s a very se­ri­ous con­cern,” Bill Richard­son, the for­mer gov­er­nor of New Mex­ico and a can­di­date for pres­i­dent in the Demo­cratic pri­maries of 2008, told Politico the other day. “We need some­thing right now. [Mr.] Trump ev­ery day is do­ing some­thing out­ra­geous. What do we do? Crit­i­cize ev­ery­thing he does? Hold back a bit? I know we need to de­velop an eco­nomic mes­sage, but that’s long term. We need some­thing now. Most of the Democrats I talk to are down, and they’re ask­ing who’s in charge?”

No­body’s in charge, and the only Demo­cratic mes­sage out there is the mes­sage Hil­lary Clin­ton couldn’t sell in the only places it mat­tered. Bill Richard­son re­calls that he went on both Fox and MSNBC in a sin­gle day to talk about the Don­ald’s Cab­i­net choices, and without a co­her­ent Demo­cratic mes­sage, “I just winged it.”

The Don­ald is a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent on any day, lead­ing with a quip, wise­crack or re­stored bro­mide, ea­ger to con­trol the con­ver­sa­tion. Given a vac­uum of rea­soned ar­gu­ment and de­bate, he’s ready now with a waltz. Other Democrats, some of them se­nior se­na­tors on Capi­tol Hill, com­plain to ad­vo­cacy groups that there’s no source of op­po­si­tion re­search and they’re re­duced to tak­ing help from the likes of David Brock and other hys­ter­i­cal red-hots.

Sober Democrats keep look­ing back and they see some­thing gain­ing on them. “The im­por­tance of these first few weeks [af­ter the elec­tion] is il­lus­trated by my me­mory of the first few months of the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion,” says R.T. Ry­bak, the vice chair­man of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee. “Rad­i­cal change came so fast that it was dif­fi­cult for [Democrats] to know where to fight, which bat­tles to pick . . . how to re­po­si­tion, how to be the party we need to be.”

The party won’t choose a new chair­man un­til late win­ter, and it’s likely to be a Mus­lim (not that there’s any­thing wrong with that) who learned his craft as a pro­tege of Louis Far­rakhan of the Na­tion of Is­lam (and there may be a lot wrong with that).

Now, clearly, is the time for ev­ery Demo­crat, prefer­ably sober, to come to the aid of his party. Wes­ley Pruden is edi­tor in chief emer­i­tus of The Times.

Bill Richard­son

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