13 January 2016

Democratic Party Crack-Up


President Obama had one really memorable line during last night’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. “It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency – that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse,” he admitted. Given that Obama himself is nearly single-handedly responsible for all that rancor and suspicion between the parties his admission is all the more impressive.

The rest of his address left much too much unsaid, as Nile Gardiner points out here. “It’s unconscionable,” agrees CapX contributor Diana Furchtgott-Roth, “that President Obama did not mention the additional 10 Americans who were seized by Iran earlier in the day.” At the New York Post, John Podhoretz correctly notes there was no mention of the attack in San Bernardino, either. Furchtgott-Roth continues,

Obama did not address how to punish rogue regimes such as Iran who face no punishment for holding Americans hostage. Rather, he exists in a fantasy land where America is a leader, where the economy is doing well, where renewable energy use can save the planet, and where children can progress without school choice.  Corporations are villains for political donations, but unions, which are some of the biggest political donors, escape blame. He decries regulatory red tape while his Administration has added 80,000 pages to the Federal Register in 2015. The American dream has dimmed under his watch.

One other thing that has diminished under Obama’s presidency is the fortunes of his political party. Indeed, while there are definite differences among Republicans, it is the Democrats who are undergoing a massive crack-up.

The only serious Democratic candidate for president, Hillary Clinton, is such a poor specimen that she’s losing to a Socialist who isn’t even a member in good standing of their party. And as Hot Air’s Allahpundit points out, Sanders is winning with Democrats on measures that should be Clinton’s bread and butter. “Even among moderate/conservative Democrats,” he quotes a recent ARG poll, “Sanders scores higher on whether he “shares your values” (83/10) than Hillary does (68/28).” More on those moderates later.

Liberal analysts have taken notice and are contemplating what might happen if Sanders sweeps Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire. Slate’s Josh Voorhees isn’t panicking.

Even if Hillary staggers out of New Hampshire with her second loss in as many contests, she’ll still have the same massive advantages she enjoys today: the campaign and super PAC cash, the ground game, the endorsements, the pledged superdelegates, and the general support of a party establishment that won’t soon forget that her challenger is not technically even a part of the Democratic Party. An unexpected loss in Iowa and a less surprising one in New Hampshire wouldn’t change that.

Voorhees is correct, Clinton still would have massive advantages. However, there are some really important disadvantages besides Sanders that might hurt her.

She is facing a serious legal threat due to her behavior when she was Secretary of State. As Charles Lipson notes, it is an email-plus-server-plus-foundation problem.

Secretary Clinton didn’t just send sensitive (and now-classified) emails over open lines, she stored them on private servers that didn’t meet the government’s cyber-security standards for sensitive documents. On its face, retaining classified materials in such vulnerable settings is a criminal violation. Senior intelligence officials have been charged for less – far less.

Finally, the center of the party, those moderate Democrats who were responsible for Bill Clinton’s presidency and also the reason that Democrats retook the House of Representatives in 2006. This was Rahm Emanuel’s strategy and it worked. Nowadays nearly all of those who were elected to persuade the Democrats to move to the center, have been defeated. You know where you can find former Rep. Jane Harman? On Fox News as an analyst. Meanwhile, Emanuel is facing a proverbial firing squad as mayor of Chicago.

At the recent Brown & Black Democratic Presidential Forum (an offensive name for the worst kind of identity politics, but never mind that), Clinton herself put the final nail in the coffin of her husband’s and her party’s successful political centrism. When asked if she supports repealing the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape incest and life endangerment, and has been on the books since 1976, only affecting Medicaid as support for Planned Parenthood attests, she said yes. “And actually I have for a very long time,” Clinton added. Now we understand that there is no ideological diversity among Democrats regarding social policy (bye bye pro-life Dems), financial matters (everyone is a socialist now!) or foreign policy (Islamic radicalism a genuine threat? Hell, no). You don’t see Clinton distancing herself very much from her former boss’ failed foreign policy strategies with regard to Iran, Russia or North Korea, now do you?

Obama may be anxious about his presidential legacy. His destruction of the Democratic Party’s formerly reasonable, moderate, and electorally successful wing is not something he needs to worry about, meantime. It is a fact.

Abby W. Schachter is editor of CapX America.