During an election campaign, political operatives are fond of seeking to induce in their opponent a negative "defining moment." That is to say a highly publicized moment when their opponent portrays everything that is wrong with him. In 2004, John Kerry provided that moment when he said he voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it.
Surely, at the State of the Union address the Democratic Party provided such a moment when, as has already been well commented on by others, they wildly applauded President Bush's statement that Congress failed to pass Social Security reform last year.
As the party of reactionary inertia -- as the party that not only doesn't have any solutions to today's dangers and problems but denies that such problems exist -- the Democrats on the floor of the House Tuesday night demonstrated a flawless, intuitive sense of its new, disfunctional self.
The Democrats' wild applause on behalf of doing nothing was more than a merely tactical political blunder. It displayed a deeper truth about them.
If one recalls, last year, the official position of the Democratic Party was not only that they opposed President Bush's Social Security reform, they argued there was no crisis -- no major problem that required rectification.
(In fact, Social Security has $4 trillion of unfunded liability, and if major changes are not made quickly, we will only be able to pay the retired baby boomers about 70 cents for each dollar of promised benefits.)
Social Security is the single most iconic Democratic Party issue of the past hundred years -- the Democrats created Social Security in 1935, and have won countless elections since then by beating up Republicans for allegedly not supporting it. It was the Democratic Party's sacred virgin. They would lie for it, die for it, steal for it, demagogue for it -- but never cheer its demise or harm, even sarcastically.
Their collective decision to cheer the failure of the body politic to provide for sufficient revenues to pay the benefits was an act of historic shame for the Democratic Party.
Worse than that for the Democrats, it shows how severely degraded their political instincts have become. Tip O'Neil's Democratic Party of 20 years ago would never have cheered the failure of Social Security -- even to try to make a small political point. To be sure, they would demagogue the issue ruthlessly, but never be seen to be walking away from the sacred program.
Until George Bush became president, the Democrats, for better and for worse, were a liberal party. Deformed by hatred of the current president, the Democrats have become a nihilist party.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.