Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Polar Washington - No Colder than Before

By Jim Simpson

Hardly a day passes without some story mentioning the polarized atmosphere in Washington and the growing partisan rancor. Democrats ascribe it to the “politics of personal destruction” and a “climate of hate” engendered by Republicans. There is no doubt that the partisan climate in Washington has become more polarized, but the Democrats' characterization of it is yet another partisan attack.

Between 1933 and 1995, Democrats controlled the House of Representatives for 58 of those 62 years, ceding power to the Republicans only twice: in 1947-1948 and again in 1953-1954. From 1955 to 1995, their power was unbroken for forty straight years. From 1933 to 1995, Democrats controlled the Senate for 52 of those 62 years. Between 1933 and 1981, a period of 48 years, they were only out of power for the same four years as the House. Between 1981 and 1986, Republicans had tenuous control of the Senate, but power was again returned to the Democrats in 1987 and they kept it until 1995. In other words, Democrats enjoyed a virtual monopoly of power in Congress from 1933 to 1995.

In the 1970s particularly, Democrats changed House rules to further favor their liberal legislative agenda. As Democrat power grew, Republican House members and Senators were increasingly marginalized. They were routinely ignored, snubbed and ridiculed by Democrats in both chambers. Congressional committee staffs were disproportionately Democrat. Republicans were essentially “seen and not heard”.

Any Republican posing any kind of challenge to Democrat prerogatives was viciously attacked. Most Republicans who survived in this atmosphere did so by being docile and compliant. We all came to know them as “go along to get along” Republicans, and they earned almost as much contempt from we conservatives as from their Democrat counterparts.

But the Democrats were never collegial. Consider how they treated Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. Reflect on the lengths they went to sabotage President Reagan’s anticommunist Central American policies. Recall the almost daily verbal attacks and frivolous legal assaults on his departmental and agency appointees. I remember coming home from work in the late 1980s, getting off at the Arlington, Virginia, Ballston Metro stop, where a block-long construction fence was painted from one end to the other with “[Attorney General Edwin] Meese is a Pig!” Think of what Senator John Tower’s Democrat colleagues did to trash his nomination for Secretary of Defense under President G.H.W. Bush.

The Democrats have a long and ignoble history of unparalleled partisan attacks on political opponents. For the past thirty years it has been the key element of their electoral and legislative strategy. At no time in history have Democrats faced such unjustified and unjustifiable personal assaults from Republican opponents.

The Democrats’ extreme partisan viciousness has always been there. But with the major news media squarely in their camp and comfortable majorities in both houses, they were never called on it. They simply rolled the Republicans at will. They did as they pleased and Republicans maintained the “comity.”

Congress became like a big dysfunctional family, with Democrats playing the mean, selfish, demanding child who always got his way, and Republicans playing the cowed, co-dependent parents, who forever made excuses for their child's errant behavior and tripped over themselves to win his favor.

Both houses were turned over to the Republicans in 1994 and the Democrats have never gotten over it. Republicans removed many of the oppressive, unfair Congressional rules that Democrats had put in place to hinder the minority. Democrats should be grateful, but they are, if anything, even more spiteful and mean-spirited.

But things have changed a bit. The rise of new media, the Internet and blogosphere, and independent radio and cable TV news stations, have begun to challenge the liberals’ media monopoly.

When the Democrats hypocritically recall those halcyon days of bipartisan “comity” they are in fact wistfully pining for the time when they were in charge and Republicans were pushovers. But as Republican majorities have grown and spread into the statehouses, the old guard of “go along to get along” Republicans are gradually being replaced.

The new crowd, more comfortable as a majority, is less tolerant of the Democrats’ routinely treacherous, mean-spirited and utterly self-serving tactics, although a strong streak of that timid, co-dependent manner still remains. All Republicans are really doing is attempting to enact the policies they were elected to, and they are not even trying that hard.

In response, Democrats scream and kick like petulant babies because that is what they always did—only now panic has been added to the mix. The politics of personal destruction, which served them so well for so many years, is no longer enough. But they are so used to it, they have forgotten how to do anything else.

So what’s their answer? Kick harder. Prominent Democrats now routinely equate George W. Bush with Hitler. In 2004, Democrat operatives made physical attacks on Republican campaign offices, and in two cases, campaign offices were shot at. Then we have the specter of CBS News working in lockstep with a deranged Democrat operative, using fraudulent documents in an attempt to smear President G.W. Bush’s military record. But there is really only one thing new about this story: this time they were caught.

Radical leftist Senator Chuck Schumer routinely characterizes eminently qualified judicial nominees, like Sam Alito, as “rightwing fringe – out of the mainstream”, but Chuck is so laughably “fringe” that he wouldn’t recognize the mainstream if he were drowning in it. It is hilarious that Democrats have the gall to accuse Republicans of “polarizing” politics. They invented it.

We just aren’t putting up with it anymore.