Saving op­por­tu­nity from the Repub­li­can ru­ins

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRU­DEN

Sec­ond thoughts on the morn­ing af­ter the morn­ing af­ter are never as much fun as the cham­pagne and caviar. Some­one has to find the foot­notes to the good news. The Repub­li­cans took a shel­lack­ing in a cou­ple of Demo­cratic states on Tues­day, and some of the rest of us, who have been to some big towns and heard a lot of big talk, got a kick not from the cham­pagne but from watch­ing some­body else’s hang­over. Not a nice thing to get kicks from, but some­times hard to re­sist.

The re­sults on Tues­day were not as dra­matic as the elec­tion night in 1932 that cat­a­pulted Franklin D. Roo­sevelt to the throne he held un­til death did him de­part, or as as­ton­ish­ing as Ron­ald Rea­gan’s 49-state sweep in 1984, as cer­tain pols and pun­dits seemed to be­lieve on elec­tion night.

But the Grumpy Old Party got a les­son for the ages, or at least for this elec­tion cy­cle, if only it pays at­ten­tion.

The first les­son is that Repub­li­cans are in trou­ble in sub­ur­ban swing dis­tricts, where the House, which looked so safely Repub­li­can only a month ago, will be won or lost next Novem­ber. Scream­ing Nancy Pelosi at the top of their lungs won’t work. Nei­ther will cry­ing Max­ine Wa­ters. Nei­ther of those two wor­thies are any­body’s pin-up queens, in or out of a bikini, but the vot­ers have moved past Hal­loween.

The other les­son is that Don­ald Trump is no­body’s idea of a hunk, ei­ther. The pres­i­dent has done some good things, and would be rec­og­nized for the good things if not for his ir­re­sistible urge to boast, in­sult and cud­dle his enor­mous ego. He saved the repub­lic from Hil­lary Clin­ton and the greed and avarice that ren­ders her as Cruella de Vil, who is the sec­ond-cru­elest lady vil­lain on the globe, but Mr. Trump has had all his vic­tory laps. He’s be­com­ing, even to his in­dul­gent base, as the guest who won’t go home.

“Mr. Trump won’t change,” ob­serves The Wall Street Jour­nal, which tries to be friendly to Repub­li­cans, “so the only [Repub­li­can] an­ti­dote to a Demo­cratic wave is leg­isla­tive ac­com­plish­ment. Democrats will be mo­ti­vated to vote no mat­ter what Congress does. But Repub­li­cans will stay home un­less the House and Se­nate ful­fill their cam­paign prom­ises. This means pass­ing a pro-growth tax re­form that will ac­cel­er­ate ex­pan­sion. Repub­li­cans should re­al­ize how much dam­age they have done to them­selves by fail­ing to re­peal even a part of Oba­macare.”

The Repub­li­can panic of the day is the dis­clo­sure, or al­le­ga­tion, that Roy Moore, the Repub­li­can can­di­date to re­place Jeff Ses­sions in the U.S. Se­nate, molested a 14-year-old girl in Alabama when he was him­self 32 nearly four decades ago. He was not only old enough to be her fa­ther, and then some, when he was an as­sis­tant prose­cut­ing at­tor­ney. He stands ac­cused at a very late date of abus­ing both the girl, now 51, and his oath of of­fice. If true — and some peo­ple are not wait­ing to find out if true — Mr. Moore, a fa­mous fan of the Ten Com­mand­ments, ex­cept for the one about adul­tery, will likely be dispatched to the dust­bin of his­tory. That would put a Demo­crat from Alabama in the world’s great­est de­lib­er­a­tive body and leave Repub­li­cans to de­lib­er­ate else­where.

But this scan­dal will soon be over­taken by other scan­dals, some more, some less se­ri­ous. So many re­cov­ered mem­o­ries of long-for­got­ten in­ci­dents of sex­ual mis­con­duct are ex­plod­ing into the me­dia that it’s dif­fi­cult to keep track of them all. Amer­ica will soon re­place France as the randy na­tion.

When at­ten­tion re­turns to pol­i­tics, which is in­evitable, the sec­ond read­ing of Tues­day night’s tea leaves will have a les­son for Democrats, too. Af­ter los­ing a string of spe­cial con­gres­sional elec­tions in the spring and early sum­mer, they fi­nally won an im­por­tant gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion in Vir­ginia (as well as an ir­rel­e­vant one in New Jer­sey). Those ear­lier Repub­li­can vic­to­ries were won on Repub­li­can turf, and the Demo­cratic vic­to­ries this week were largely on Demo­cratic turf. There’s al­ways a dif­fer­ence in play­ing at home or on the road.

“For that rea­son,” ob­serves Nate Co­hen, the oft-re­li­able elec­tions guru of The New York Times, “… to take the House next Novem­ber they might have to do even bet­ter than they did on Tues­day.”

If they keep the House and ex­pand a mar­gin in the Se­nate, Repub­li­cans in Congress will have to get over them­selves. Rand Paul and John McCain and Su­san Collins and Lisa Murkowski will have to re­mem­ber how to play for the team, rec­og­niz­ing that vot­ers who gave the party ev­ery­thing last year with such great ex­pec­ta­tions are at the lim­its of their pa­tience. Don­ald Trump will never get over him­self, and it’s up to Congress do some­thing, and soon. Wes­ley Pru­den is edi­tor in chief emer­i­tus of The Times.

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