Monday, July 22, 2019

An Accommodating Party

Times change, people change, but our major political parties sometimes appear not to.

On November 1, 2000 the New York Daily News, responding to speculation that George W Bush would win the popular vote while Al Gore would take the presidency with a majority of the Electoral College, found

The core of the emerging Bush strategy assumes a popular uprising, stoked by the Bushies themselves, of course. In league with the campaign - which is preparing talking points about the Electoral College's essential unfairness - a massive talk-radio operation would be encouraged. "We'd have ads, too," says a Bush aide, "and I think you can count on the media to fuel the thing big-time. Even papers that supported Gore might turn against him because the will of the people will have been thwarted.

" Local business leaders will be urged to lobby their customers, the clergy will be asked to speak up for the popular will and Team Bush will enlist as many Democrats as possible to scream as loud as they can. "You think 'Democrats for Democracy' would be a catchy term for them?" asks a Bush adviser....

And what would happen if the "what if" scenario came out the other way? "Then we'd be doing the same thing Bush is apparently getting ready for," says a Gore campaign official. "They're just further along in their contingency thinking than we are. But we wouldn't lie down without a fight, either.

It did come out the other way but they did lie down without a fight.

The Democratic Party still does not like a scuffle, and I'm not referring to the failure of the H. Clinton campaign to develop a strategy it would implement if Clinton were to have won the popular vote while Trump triumphed in the Electoral College  If it had come out the other way, the GOP might still be in court- and in the streets- demanding that its presidential candidate displace Hillary Clinton at 1600 Washington Avenue.

The Democratic Party won't fight for its presidential candidates but, to be fair, it won't fight for its US Senators, either. In "The Case of Al Franken," the arguably incomparable Jane Mayer chronicles the events leading to the resignation of the Minnesota senator for sexual harassment alleged by a conservative radio talk show host. She explains

On December 1, 2017, seven female Democratic senators—Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Claire McCaskill, Mazie Hirono, Patty Murray, Maggie Hassan, and Catherine Cortez Masto—met with Chuck Schumer to tell him that most of them were on the verge of demanding Franken’s resignation. At least one of them had already drafted such a statement, and the group’s resolve hardened further when some of its members learned of an impending Politico story that contained a seventh allegation, by a former Senate staff member. The accuser, whose name is being withheld at her request, was known to some of the seven female senators. The woman said that, in 2006, when Franken was still a comedian, he had made her uneasy by looking as if he planned to kiss her. The senator she had worked for hadn’t known of the allegation at the time, but vouched for her credibility.

According to someone familiar with the situation, Schumer spoke with Franken later that day, advising him to take the issue more seriously and to reach out to the women senators. Franken has no recollection of this conversation, but says that it’s wrong to suggest he wasn’t already taking the matter seriously. His plan was still to respond to Tweeden’s claims at the Senate Ethics Committee hearing. “I was going by the book,” Franken told me. “We didn’t think we should mount a lobbying campaign. But then it all started cascading.” He faults Schumer for not insisting to his caucus that an investigation was under way, and that due process required facts before a verdict.

The effort to get rid of the effective Franken was jump-started and distorted by a "struggling conservative talk-radio station whose survival plan was to become the most pro-Trump station in Los Angeles," which chose to avoid checking the facts, vetting the accuser's statement, or requesting a response from the accused before going with the story.

There were seven Democratic senators whom Mayer quotes who now regret having called upon Franken to resign. Whether it's a Democratic senator under attack or an instance in which the popular vote and the Electoral College produce different outcomes, Democrats have to understand that Republicans will be Republicans and they cannot flinch before they are even hit.

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