by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Once the agony of a world-class 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).