Immediately following the vote on President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill last year, the liberal mainstream media collectively wrote off the GOP. Republicans were no longer a “serious” party for refusing to believe that shoveling $814 billion to federal agencies and Democratic interest groups was the best way to create jobs.
An April 15, 2009, Tax Day editorial in the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman put it this way:
“Republicans again are engaged in attention-getting gimmickry. This time they are backing a ‘Tax Day Tea Party’ to denounce President Barack Obama’s budget and initiatives to stimulate the economy. The tea parties, scheduled today in Austin and across the country, are stunts — the kind associated more with high school or college students than serious-minded politicians confronting an economic crisis.”
That same month, Marc Ambinder, now the National Journal’s White House correspondent, actually wrote, “My Republican friends keep asking me when I’ll take the GOP seriously again and why I’ve stopped writing about ticky-tak [sic] political gamesmanship and GOP consultant tricks. When they’re a serious party with serious ideas, then we can talk.”
Almost 18 months later, the stimulus is an abysmal failure and, thanks to the tea party rallies, Democrats are on the verge of an electoral defeat that may be bigger than any party has seen in nearly a century. How are Democrats responding to this? The past week has been nothing but stunts and political gamesmanship.
After meeting with Democratic senators, Lady Gaga held a rally in Maine on Sept. 20 to persuade the state’s two liberal Republican senators to vote for the Democrats’ repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Instead of making gay and lesbian veterans who served with distinction the focal point of debate, Democrats endorsed the efforts of a sartorially challenged 24-year-old pop star. The repeal was defeated, with both Maine senators voting against.
On Tuesday, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern described tea party activists using the F-word at a campaign event. Rather than apologize for his profanity, he used it as the basis for a fundraising appeal a few days later. Ohio Democrats are currently looking at losing the governorship, a Senate seat and as many as five congressional seats.
On Wednesday, Obama met with faith leaders and begged them to help promote his budget-busting, unpopular health care bill. His 54 speeches on the topic weren’t enough to make you like it, so the plan is to bother you at church.
On Thursday, congressional Democrats announced they would vote on extending the Bush tax cuts before the election. Democrats haven’t even passed a budget this year. That same day, the GOP released its “Pledge for America” detailing the party’s 2011 legislative agenda.
The Examiner’s Byron York called the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to ask if it has a similar policy document. The answer was no.
On Friday, funnyman Stephen Colbert was invited by Democrats to testify before Congress about an immigration bill. Colbert testified in character, mockingly observing, “I don’t want a tomato picked by a Mexican.”
He later tried to enter pictures of his colonoscopy into the record. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of Colbert’s testimony, “Of course I think it’s appropriate. [But] he can bring attention to an important issue like immigration. I think it’s great.”
By contrast, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, refused to attend Colbert’s testimony. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, retorted to Colbert that he respects workers who “prefer the aroma of fresh dirt than the sewage of American elitists.”
Maybe when Democrats are a serious party with serious ideas, voters will take them seriously again. It’s a safe bet that won’t happen before November.
Mark Hemingway is an editorial page staff writer for The Washington Examiner.