The Furies

I had promised the wife of my old college coach that I would come up for dinner during the holidays. The family’s eldest daughter picked me up from the Portland airport.

We talked a little politics in the car. She is a Democrat, former high school teacher, and now teaches kayak handling and design in the wet world of Oregon. So I asked her what she thought of the furor over sex harassment and the bonfire consuming Democratic politicians.

She answered, “It’s a witch hunt.”

I have asked a couple other women who are similarly dismissive of the Democratic self-immolation, saying they learned in their lifetimes to deal with overly assertive approaches and pure creepiness. Yet another said in essence, they can all burn.

So while the Democrats get ridden over, get appointments and legislation crammed down on them, they form a pack to devour their own. Their opponents, however, stand fast.

I asked my nephew’s wife, who admits that she has a skewed sense of news based on a couple websites she visits, what she thought of Roy Moore’s candidacy. She fell back on the tenet of criminal law, presumed innocence.

You see, they’re not folding.

The Republican leaders know why they are in power, to give money back to their donors while depleting the treasury and packing the federal bench. And they are getting it done.

The Democrats, meanwhile, are transforming themselves into the Pathetic Party.

So what was it that caused the female caucus of the Senate to come flying in pursuit of a colleague. What was the seventh sin that pushed Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to say, “Enough is enough,” and go hunting for Democratic Senator Al Franken.

He tried to kiss a girl who ducked and “booked it for the door,” as she told Politico. That’s it. The girl avoided Franken and left. Off with his head!

So to the Pathetics: You made your stand, great. You knocked out one of your absolute stalwarts, wonderful. You gained “the high moral ground,” fantastic. For what. So you could all the better attack Moore when he comes along. Hooray. Hooray.

How about trying to win some elections.

Because there is a broad, fundamental attack on the government underway, a gutting of civil society, an acceleration of separation between the mega-rich who pay for Republican candidates and the rest of America. The tax bill is the naked exposure of that imperative.

And to cement it, to hold in their advantage for decades to come, the Republican majority is ramming federal judges onto the bench.

I was looking at the Courthouse News page yesterday, and saw our top story, “Nominations of 10 Federal Judges Advance in Senate.” Senate Republicans had jammed a big group of federal judges through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a straight party-line vote, 11-9.

The nominees included a party hack from Nebraska, unanimously rated not qualified by the American Bar Association, who is being appointed to the Eighth Circuit. The evaluators said Steven Grasz had trouble separating the roles of advocate and judge and doubted his willingness to follow precedent. They found that “temperament issues, particularly bias and lack of open-mindedness, were problematic.”

No matter. He will be on the appellate bench, making law for decades.

Directly below that lead article was the second lead, “Franken Steps Down From Senate After Losing Party Support.” The stories, in the one-two positions on our page, said it all.

While Republicans ram life-time bench appointments through the Senate, Democrats commit hari-kari.

Newt Gingrich got it right. “This is a party which is losing its mind.”

What caused me to turn this over and over last night was that the political ground is ripe for change. We ran a story the day before Franken’s resignation reporting on a Quinnipiac University poll that found fully 64 percent of voters believe the tax cuts are for the benefit of the rich.

In other words, the voters understand what is being done to them.

Instead of talking to those folks, the Democrats fall upon themselves to extract vengeance for old sins. Like the ghost of Clytemnaestra who in a 2500-year-old play implored the furies: “Sting your heart with merited reproaches, for reproach becomes a spur to the right-minded. Send after him a gust of bloody breath, shrivel him with vapor, the fire from your guts, follow him, wither him with fresh pursuit.”

The furies were roused, they pursued, and they withered.

There is a clear coda to the Franken saga. A party that has lost its way needs a new set of leaders. Minority leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi need to give way to Democrats capable of controlling their party and guiding it back to power.

 

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