Letter: Wimpy Democrats
Democrats are wimps. I should know, I am one. I’m not talking about active local party members. I am talking about the National campaigns for president that Democrats run every four years.
The wimpiness started in 1980, when Ronald Reagan ran for office. His slogan? “Get government off our backs.” Did national Democratic leaders like Mike Mansfield and Robert Byrd respond by saying “What government do you want to eliminate? Social Security? Medicare? National interstate highways? How about our national parks?” Are you kidding? There was silence.
Reagan’s slogan resonated with people, partly because no Democrat answered the charge.
Democratic wimpiness continued when the first President Bush ran against Michael Dukakis. Remember Willie Horton, the African-American convict who raped and murdered someone in Massachusetts? He was featured day after day after day in ads run by the Republicans. Genteel Mr. Bush kept his distance from the ad, but it was the work of his press secretary, the late Lee Atwater. And how did Dukakis respond? So insignificantly I don’t even remember.
Then, fast-forward to 2004 when President George W. Bush ran for a second term against Sen. John Kerry. President Bush kept a discreet distance, as his father had earlier, but his cohorts, perhaps Karl Rove, came up with the Swift boat ads against Kerry. When Kerry was nominated, I thought, “Wonderful, a genuine war hero, who volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War and was wounded and then rewarded with a military medal. Who can say anything bad about him?” Wait and see. We did.
Did his medal inoculate him against a nasty campaign? You jest. The Swift boaters used band-aids to suggest Kerry was not really wounded and did not deserve a medal. And so, what was Kerry’s response? Did he draw himself up to his 6 foot 4 or whatever height and say righteously, “How dare you? I volunteered. What did President Bush do? He went AWOL from the National Guard”? No way.
Kerry was, I suppose, so shocked by the audacity of the false charges, he did nothing, said nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.
So here we are in 2016, 12 years later, faced with Donald Trump’s constant refrain about “Crooked Hillary, lock her up.” He warmed up in the Republican primary with his grade school attacks on his Republican opponents (remember “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Mario,” unattractive Carla?).
So when the actual election campaign began, he was ready with “Crooked Hillary.” She did try to respond by quoting many unpleasant things Trump had actually said, but nothing seemed to stick. Yet she never responded to the “crooked” charge directly.
It may sound like hindsight, but as I said to friends at the time, she should have addressed the charge itself. She might have done so by meeting it head-on, saying, “Crooked? You want crooked? How about the Trump University that charged innocent people thousands of dollars with false promises? You want crooked, how about the Trump Foundation, which took contributions and used them to buy portraits of Trump himself and used other donations to make contributions in his own name to other charities?” Crooked? How about stiffing contractors and the workers who built your hotels?” Nada. And did any of her surrogates and supporters respond? You’re kidding. They’re Democrats.
Well, as I said, wimpy.