The current political strategy of the Democratic Party can be neatly summed up as “the three Rs”:
Every attack against a Republican will generally fall into one of these categories. As we’ve seen with the Kavanaugh saga, generally all three will be tried until something sticks. Sure, these lines of attack are incredibly dishonest, amoral, and lacking in general decency, however, this doesn’t mean they’re not effective from the Democrats’ perspective.
There are 4 commonalities between each R:
1. No credible proof whatsoever is required to level an accusation.
2. They are inflammatory.
3. Although absurd, they are impossible to conclusively disprove.
4. The stupid Republican response will confer wildly-unwarranted credibility.
Let’s take a look how Republicans have reacted to each.
Here they have displayed utter ineptitude from the start. The Republicans unexpectedly took the Presidency and both Houses of Congress. The next morning, the Democrats promptly declared this to be the result of Russian meddling.
Their response? They agreed and worked with the Democrats to pass draconian sanctions bills against Russia that severely constrain the President’s ability to implement a foreign policy for which he was elected. This legislation also included funding for neocons to produce propaganda about Russian propaganda.
In effect, they legitimized the Democrat’s false accusation of their own illegitimacy. Now that truth is emerging and the entire thing is being discredited, it will be tough to use it against the Democrats since it was the Republicans themselves who gave it credence in the first place. What should be a political goldmine is off-limits to the party. Worse still, they’re not opposing efforts to have dissent from the Democratic line purged from the internet in the name of stopping Russian interference. This will likely prove to their electoral detriment.
This one is tried and true. It makes Republicans leap in fear and scurry for cover. Rather than just telling whoever to go stuff it, they tend to get a pained expression on their face and vehemently deny that they’ve got a racist bone in their body. Look at Jeff Sessions getting harangued by the CBC during his confirmation hearings, for example. As a Republican, you’re going to be called a racist no matter what you do. Just ignore it and deliver what your voters want. You’ve established that you’re not a racist, nobody cares, and you get voted out because enough Whites didn’t show up to the polls—is that a worthwhile outcome?
Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings have needlessly been turned into a disgraceful travesty. Highly questionable women made demonstrably absurd accusations. For Republican officials even to discuss them gives credibility that they should not have. Letting her come and testify gave jet fuel to the lies. The other side can point to the fact that she testified as evidence of her claim’s veracity. Flake delaying the vote was even worse.
This is all very basic stuff. The guy in the Oval Office got there by tossing out the script, and he’s remained popular despite some blunders along the way. What’s worrisome is that if the party’s mainstream were ever going to get a clue, they would have done so already. So, the only thing that’s guaranteed is that this is going to keep happening.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is medically unfit for office. If she manages to make it to next year, it’s going to be very difficult to maintain the pretense that she’s fit for duty even if someone else is writing her decisions. When numerous media outlets tout her “impressive workout routine,” something is up (not her head). Trump’s nominee for her replacement can look forward to a similar circus. The script has already been written.
The danger in all of this is that Trump isn’t on the ballot for the midterms, and the Democratic base is in a frenzy. This frustrating feebleness combined with clear opposition from the party leadership to key parts of his popular agenda can keep critical voters at home in frustration. Trump’s supporters are not blaming him for things like the wall. Let’s hope they don’t take it out on the party. Only time will tell.