Center is shrinking

For Democrats, the treatment meted out to its U.S. senators by Mitch McConnell is a wake-up moment. When Lindsay Graham launched tirade after tirade and personal attack after personal attack, they remained surprisingly mute. Amy Klobuchar tried to be a good little presence, bringing a plastic fork to a knife fight. The rest of the gang acted with the passion of political scientists on job leave. If they were roughed up they have to share some of the blame.

But the partisanship exhibited by the GOP, after they got their Supreme Court nominee, hit new depths of tastelessness and partisanship. The beers at times would be quite appropriate in other situations — but was way out of bounds. Perhaps the ghosts of Theodore Bilbo and Strom Thurmond and all of these former protectors of segregation would look down and say “You did good, Lindsay.” Demagoguery is back in style and the Democratic party has to adjust to that fact. But they act as if being the goody two-shoes party is their highest aspiration.

The Kavanaugh confirmation exposed Democratic flaws. Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and other so-called “moderates” baited and switched Democrats to begin with. Aided by Joe Manchin, they managed to persuade Democrats they had a chance. If they had declared for Kavanaugh earlier, which was their inclination, none of this would have happened. But Democrats fell for the oldest trick in the book in that they accepted tainted emissaries into their ranks and the result was predictable. Chris Coons, of Delaware, certainly played the fool for Flake and Collins.

As for Manchin, his pride of being an independent was on full display, but with a twist. He played it perfectly if one prizes guile as the highest virtue. But perhaps he is being too clever by half. Why not vote for Patrick Morrisey instead, he is a real conservative and supported Kavanaugh all along? Given that Gov. Jim Justice disenfranchised many Democrats when he switched parties, why would anyone think Manchin would not do the same. Better to vote for the real article than a tawdry fake.

Conservatives were not compliant in this mugging — so-called Centrists led the way. Graham, Flake, Manchin, Collins and McConnell are not movement conservatives, they are self-absorbed win-at-all-cost “hack” politicians. No member of the right needs to be ashamed –but the so-called moderates, they showed their true colors. If Donald Trump respects any of these “useful” players, I would be surprised. Once more he has read these Senators correctly, that what they will do for campaign money and re-election is astounding. Once again he proved a master and they fell for his entrieties.

Perhaps that is why the center is shrinking. Politicians like Coons are spineless and foolish, pretending that the Rubicon has not been crossed. Klobuchar showed little respect for her colleague Al Franken, yet treated Kavanaugh like a long lost cousin. Only Heidi Heitkamp emerged with her dignity intact. But as it stands now her courage will not be rewarded.

Democrats must heed Barry Goldwater’s peroration “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.” To be so pleasant in the face of a head-on assault is certainly no virtue.