The party is doing its best to squander the limited victory it won in 2018.
by Conrad Black
The biases of the media are so pervasive that there is little recognition of the steady disintegration of the Democrats, though it is occurring every day. Rational and intelligent members of the center-Left write to me every week with new concerns about where the Left is going. The Democratic National Committee's decision not to allow Fox News to put on one of their candidates' debates confirms the weakness of the party and of its leaders. The process of atomizing society into smaller and smaller bearers of less and less widespread grievances, on each of which the whole movement of protest, uproot, reveal, and punish is in constant paroxysms of righteousness, is becoming louder and faster and more absurdly overwrought by the day.
To take the most prominent recent examples, the Democratic leadership has declared the Trump tax cuts and reform to be a "disaster . . . the worst legislation in history . . . crumbs" (Speaker Pelosi) for the country, and a huge payoff for the rich. Economic growth has doubled, real incomes are increasing in the middle-class and working-class income levels for the first time in 20 years, and the country has more jobs to fill than unemployed people to fill them. The Democratic leadership has not just contested the existence of a serious problem at the southern border; it has flirted with proposing the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and Beto O'Rourke, who outspent prominent incumbent senator Ted Cruz three to one in Texas and came close to winning last year, not only opposes building a defined border but urges that whatever fencing and other obstacles are now in place be removed. At the same time, most official Democrats support the legal effort to prohibit the Census Bureau, in pursuing its constitutional duty to determine the apportionment of state delegations to the House of Representatives and the Electoral College, from asking people about their citizenship, just as they have long waived the necessity of being a citizen to vote.
Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell (California) has sponsored legislation to protect the media from the purported threat of physical assault by President Trump and has made a television tour throughout the Cohen road-show saying that anyone who needed "a fixer" shouldn't be president. Donald Trump was a New York billionaire property developer, impresario, and reality-television star, not a librarian in Swalwell's native Sac City, Iowa. Rich and active New Yorkers do need fixers (though Trump could have done better than Cohen). American presidents need to be worldlier than they recently have been, not moralistic yokels. Swalwell is a 38-year-old fourth-term congressman who, like much of the population, is contemplating a presidential run. Another Democratic congressman, whose name I decided I did not want to know or remember shortly after his soundbite began over the weekend, said that all the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees' subpoenas of the Trump entourage would not have been necessary if Trump had published his tax returns.
This is the moronic level to which the opposition has excavated. Trump's tax returns have been audited, and often contested, every year for over 40 years by the IRS. If there were anything substantial lying dead under his fiscal floorboards, Trump's returns would be plastered and illuminated in Times Square, and Rachel Maddow would read them to viewers every night with the same breathy and then crestfallen excitement that she exhibited last year when reading from a questionably obtained Trump tax return that he had in one year paid "only . . . 55 million dollars." It was 18 months ago that Senator Chris Coons of Delaware declared that Trump's tax returns would reveal the Russian collusion to rig the election. The last Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Tim Kaine, on discovering that Trump's son and son-in-law had met with a Russian woman at the Trump Tower, announced that treason may have occurred.
For two years it was thought Mueller would be the deus ex machina who would end the imposture and terminate the aberrant Trump presidency. Now that it is clear that this is not happening, the Democrats, completely shameless at having to start all over with a new canard about Trump's illegitimate election, are calling for U-Hauls full of materials and scores of witnesses to again unleash the motor-mouthed non-stop-talking television airheads to tell us once more that we don't know what we don't know, and just because Mueller couldn't do it in two years with 15 investigators (so rabidly anti-Trump that some were fired and all had to be brought into the office on leash), that doesn't mean Trump isn't a criminal. Elizabeth Warren, self-remade into one of the ludicrous figures of American public life over her claim to being a beer-swilling native, tells cheering crowds that Trump may finish his term in prison. Liberal high-mindedness has reached its coronation; the debasement of the Eleanor Roosevelt tradition.
Because this president had never sought or held any public office, elected or unelected, or a high military position, his presidential candidacy, which was the subject of such uproarious mirth until he was elected, has incited the inference that anyone, everyman (and woman), can be elected to that position. Thus the field of possible Democratic candidates has become absurdly crowded with absolute poltroons. It is like a New York City Marathon for the unfit. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, who, when a guest in the White House, reprimanded the president for sending too many tweets, and who was chief judge-shopper for the initial fatuous district-court ruling purporting to exercise the president's rights over immigration, is running for president on the climate-change issue. His own measures on the subject were rejected in his home state. Americans, rightly, do not consider this a pressing issue, but he wants to ride this hobbyhorse to the White House.
There are more than 30 possible or already declared Democratic candidates, and all but three or four tick at least three of the following high-explosive booby-trap boxes: a draconian green program based on Ocasio La Pasionaria's intuition that without it the world will burn up in twelve years; personal-income-tax rates in the 70 percent range; legalized infanticide; completely nationalized health care; open borders and no attempt to distinguish citizens from noncitizens; and vast reparations to African Americans, Latinos, and native people.
The Trump-hating media are enablers of a fantasy game in which everyone pretends that the Democratic party has a large number of interesting, qualified, sensible people to choose from to knock off this president. The true evidence of what is happening is that the canaries in the mineshaft are falling over. There were only four putative candidates who had the position, recognition, and sensible perspective to make a serious race. Michael Bloomberg (who has drunk himself half-silly with the climate-change Kool-Aid) has gone to his default position of aiming for secretary of state, as he did with Jeb Bush and Hillary. He left the race, and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio followed him. Amy Klobuchar is unlikely to have the flair to win, but she is a presentable candidate. The inevitable Joe Biden, who first ran for president in 1988 but was knocked out for cribbing a platitudinous line from defeated British Labour-party leader Neil Kinnock, seems likely to make the race.
In fact, Joe Biden is the man America needs. To be sure, he could not possibly win, and he does not have the judgment or moral authority to be an effective president. But he is an amiable old water buffalo who would make a somewhat respectable race and gather together the many Democratic constituencies that are now proliferating and multiplying like an aggressive virus, and by his honorable example, though failing to excite anyone, might also prevent every sane Democrat from voting Republican. Biden might spare his party a terrible fate and deliver it to a serious contender in 2024, when the country could be expected to continue its now well-established pattern of alternating parties in the White House every eight years. The polls are not now asking the questions they will in 18 months: Trump will have delivered on the economy, illegal immigration, trade, energy, and avoidance of foreign-policy fiascos, and his opponents are mainly quacks. America needs a two-party system with sane people at the head of each. Joe Biden is no world-beater, but he could spare the Democrats a world-historic beating at the polls next year.
First published in National Review Online.