This is how the bullies’ world ends — with a whimper. It’s really rather sad, the way it always is when it becomes clear that behind the posturing, meanness, and vile haughtiness stands a broken collective of lowlifes with nowhere to go, no prospects for recovery, no chance to regain anyone’s respect.
So how many reputable Democrats have come out to rail against the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court? Let’s see: we have some of the usual residue from the Bork-Thomas era, such as Ralph Neas and Nan Aron. We have all the creepy MoveOn.org Howard Dean groupies. Several dispirited pundits and columnists. And of course the lovely Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, and last, but not exclusively least, Pat Leahy. You know when he sits under an apple tree next month reading up on Roberts the tree will proceed to drop rotten fruit on his inviting pate.
And it wasn’t even Karl Rove who did them in. (Don’t they wish they had him to kick around again.) It was instead the political genius who always does them in at key moments, our fox of a president, George W. Bush. All day Tuesday he had them sent on wild goose chases. Then come 9:00 p.m. primetime, he trotted out his golden swan. Soon they were kicking themselves, as nonviolently as possible, for permitting Bush free rein, coast to coast, on every major channel and network out there. But given that they’d turned the O’Connor retirement into the biggest event since the deaths of John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, and John Paul II combined, it was only fitting that Bush rose to the occasion in naming her successor.
The Democrats’ minions in the press complain that Bush respects them less and less. “…I can tell you,” Howard Kurtz, the leading voice of Washington journalism, wrote yesterday, “that some of them are ticked and feeling misled.” I don’t imagine whatever it is they feel is keeping Bush from falling asleep promptly at 10 p.m. The guest list for last Monday’s White House gala dinner for India’s prime minister included not a single member of the mainstream media, other than Bush-friendly conservatives Fred Barnes and David Brooks, and of course Raghubir Goyal, the White House correspondent for India Globe and Asia Today.
Long ago Bush made it clear he regards the Washington press corps as a special interest whose views don’t reflect those of most Americans. Like my old Irish setter who always was surprised to find ocean water salty each time we went to the beach, these media folk still haven’t figured out that Bush doesn’t fear them — let alone regard them in any way his equal. He’s tried to signal that our government comprises three branches only, but they haven’t been very perceptive.
So what do the Democrats and their mouthpieces do now? Lie low? Buy time? Reconnoiter on Cape Cod? Unless it’s a mirror they’re staring at, they’re not ones to engage in self-reflection. But powerlessness and paralysis do have a way of reminding the afflicted that maybe things aren’t going too well. In this case, that the anti-Bush party is not the governing party, that the anti-Bush press does not get the first and last word, and that the United States as a polity is indeed more diverse than they ever dreamed.