Democrats fan on 3 straight

Democrats fan on 3 straight
© Getty Images

Last week, Democrats watched President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE blow the ball by them on three consecutive days. Monday was the Iowa caucuses, Tuesday was the State of the Union, Wednesday was the Senate’s impeachment acquittal. Like striking out on three straight pitches, Democrats were frozen in futility. This week, the Democrats are not looking as much for a hit off President Trump as simply to make some contact at all.  

Trump was already set to have a very good week. But whether it would be one of his best was still unclear; Trump has been on a roll recently, underscored by two major trade deals. The deciding factor turned out to be his hapless Democrat opponents: They elevated his great week into his best.  

Even before the major events began, Gallup gave him his presidency’s best polling numbers. From that heightened baseline, things only got better.  

On Monday came the Iowa caucuses. They are still coming, and their idiosyncrasies may never be unraveled.  

President Trump did not even have to be present to look great in comparison to the Democrats’ caucus catastrophe. America’s electoral process is supposed to resolve issues via the people’s decision. Iowa rendered no decision and left things even less resolved.  

The outcome itself was disappointing for Democrats. Turnout did not signal their hoped for upswing in enthusiasm and participation. Biden, their ostensible front-runner and establishment standard-bearer, finished fourth. The three candidates ahead of him were all to his left and amassed over 70 percent support — so much for running toward the center come November.  

If the outcome – or lack thereof – was bad, the process was worse. Three days after the party’s inability to tabulate a result, the DNC chairman called for a “re-canvassing.” There have been no end of jibes that a party that cannot run a caucus can hardly be trusted with running a country. Strike One.  

On Tuesday came the president’s State of the Union address. This is America’s biggest annual political opportunity, essentially a no-lose chance for every president. President Trump used it very effectively, talking to his base and hitting enough nonpartisan topics for independent voters to find reasonable — school choice, reducing drug costs and rebuilding infrastructure.  

On his own, Trump was good to very good. Again, Democrats made it great for him. By boycotting the speech, walking out and not standing in response to things Trump said that any reasonable person would support – like arresting and deporting violent illegal immigrant lawbreakers – they cast themselves as ideologues.  

Whether President Trump purposely snubbed Speaker Pelosi at the beginning is questionable; her response at the end was not. Tearing the speech on camera behind Trump’s back provided footage that has already taken on a life of its own. In sum, President Trump got his moment; Democrats diminished theirs. Strike Two.  

On Wednesday, after months of impeachment, the Senate formally concluded it. By majority votes, Trump was acquitted on both articles. Democrats ostensible purpose was to undertake the formal process to remove President Trump from office. Trump remaining in office means he wins. Strike Three.  

That should have been the end of it. President Trump’s victory on impeachment was a formality. Everyone knew it was coming. Everyone had known it was coming. There was no mystery, except on the margins. It was like a fastball down the middle of the plate that Democrats could not hit: Let it go by and slink back to the dugout.  

Yet, Democrats raised the perfunctory to a pinnacle. They immediately began arguing the third strike. House Democrats made clear they intend to keep investigating. Where there was little general interest before, and none will exist later, they refused to let go. Instead they threw more of their credibility onto the political and PR pyre they had lit. 

Bad enough to have struck out on three pitches and looked bad doing so, Democrats had to add to their embarrassment by going from being wrong to being “loud wrong.”   

Like a ball player arguing a call with the umpire, Democrats drew more attention to a bad at-bat best forgotten. Each strike was emblematic of the whole sequence. They looked bad on each. Then they managed to make “bad” worse.  

This week offers Democrats a new at-bat. Following such a bad one, they desperately need a better one. Perhaps New Hampshire can offer Democrats a normal primary — even better would be their purported front-runner not being an afterthought. Perhaps too, they could avoid saying something – anything – about impeachment for the first time in forever. At least Democrats can take solace in knowing President Trump will not get another State of the Union address this week — it may not be much, but at least it’s a start.  

J.T. Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. He served as a congressional staffer from 1987 through 2000.