Shunning the party of the whiners
We’re not yet a nation wholly of whiners, but some of our congresspersons are working on it. Democrats who should have been taking a victory lap are cowering in fear of the contents of a tea cup. No wonder real men — mostly but, by no means all, white — are shunning the Democrats.
The polling gurus are finding that millions of the white men who helped put Barack Obama in the White House are leaving the Democrats in great numbers, and this could lead to really bad news in November. Gallup finds that white male support for a Democratic Congress has fallen 8 percentage points since last summer, while the support of women has remained remarkably steady. White women who voted for Mr. Obama continue to support him, but only 38 percent of white men support him now. Unless the president and his party find a way to reverse this trend they must prepare for an epic bath nine months hence.
Accomplishing such a turnaround would require first of all for Democrats to pipe down about what a tough life they have. Life is real, often hard, and, as Damon Runyon famously said to a whiner at the poker table, “three out of three people die, so shut up and deal.” Democrats in Congress who got their way in the health care “reform” debate are frightened now that the people they abused are angry and determined to do something about it. With the help of the compliant “mainstream” media, they have created the specter of a tsunami of hate, bigotry, racism, slander, rock-throwing, spitting, irritable bowel syndrome and sevenyear itch. Sarah Palin has got the Democrats particularly spooked.
What the Democrats actually got were dirty looks, catcalls, and cries of “shame!” They accused their constituents of hurling naughty words, including “the N-word” (which has become more terrible than the Abomb in modern usage) as well as sticks, stones and occasional bricks. Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, who betrayed his anti-abortion allies who believed him when he vowed never, ever, to vote for legislation to make taxpayer-funded abortion easier, even insists that his life was threatened by unidentified evildoers.
Exaggeration is the coin of politics, of course, and it turns out that nearly all of the threats of mayhem, dismemberment, death and rudeness cited by frightened Democrats were merely manufactured for effect. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri, who said he was spat upon at the Capitol, on drying off changed his story. He told The Washington Post that, umm, well, actually the heckler was, ah, “the man who allowed his saliva to hit my face.” Anyone who has sat in the front row at the theater knows that drenching spittle, unpleasant but innocent, often accompanies dramatic speech. An examination of videotape finds no evidence that anyone at a certain Tea Party rally actually shouted the “Nword” at black Democrats, and the coffin that was supposed to have been left on his lawn to threaten another Missouri congressman was actually displayed at a prayer vigil against abortion down the street.
Incivility is the name of the game in modern politics, and the Internet has made the gratuitous insult as American as the banana-cream pie so tempting to smash into the face of someone who deserves it. But anyone who expresses a public opinion must expect dissent, colorfully expressed. Occasionally a threat is real and should be denounced and if need be punished. But the vilification of Barack Obama is no more passionate than the vilification of George W. Bush. Extremes beget extremes. Alec Baldwin promised to leave the country if George W. was re-elected president in 2004, and by 2008 Sean Penn was screaming that critics should die in agony from rectal cancer. (What is this Hollywood obsession with the southern terminus of the alimentary canal?)
What most Democratic whiners don’t understand — and what some of their betters understand very well — is that people get mad when they’re ignored and punished by consequences imposed on them. Barack Obama understands it, and is contemptuous of the backlash, as anyone knows who saw the curl of his lip and heard the disdain in his voice when he celebrated the signing of Obamacare.
The Democrats know they have shoved an unwanted and despised health care “reform” down the throats of Americans, and they understand that arrogance, like elections, sometimes invites consequences. Once upon a time the liberal establishment — now the terrified whiners — didn’t have to worry about consequences, since it had silenced the great unwashed. But the unwashed have found their voice, and they’re not giving it up.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.