Here in Miami there is a nice mental institution situated near the beach. The joke is told about a reporter who asked the head psychiatrist how he determines if a person is eligible to move in. "Well," he replied, "we fill up a bathtub with water and we give them a bucket and a teacup and ask them to empty the tub." "I get it," said the journo. "A normal person uses the bucket because it’s bigger."
"Oh, no. A normal person pulls the plug on the tub. Would you like a room with an ocean view or a bay view?"
And so it is with the Democratic Party. Polls show that they have an edge of sorts for the coming congressional elections. If they were capable of sound judgment, if they had a modicum of restraint, indeed if they were clinically sane, they would just let things play out and the plug would be pulled on the Republican bathtub. Instead, they are rushing prematurely to declare victory and to boast of the draconian investigations they will unleash as revenge.
Absolutely off-the-wall crazy. Anyone who watched the weekend television shows from Washington was treated to this macabre spectacle of Democrats dancing on the graves of Republicans not yet buried. George Stephanopoulos twice referred to Speaker Pelosi, then laughingly corrected himself. Tim Russert told Nancy Pelosi that he heard she was measuring the drapes in the Speaker’s office, and she oh so demurely demurred that this was a mite premature.
If the Democrats fail to win in November — and I predict that fail they will — they can hark back to these excesses as a primary factor in their demise. Outside of the fever swamps of the far-left blog bugs, there are few Americans with an appetite for a coup d’etat followed by show trials and a reign of terror. We have a long history in this nation of settling our political differences as adults, and nobody wants to elect a gang of vindictive creeps to use the powers of Congress as a bludgeon against political opponents.
Here’s a true story. In New York City in the 1940s, two boys from Texas, aged 18 and 15, showed up to study at a local Yeshiva. They had no Jewish education but their mother, who died young, had asked the older brother on her deathbed to bring the younger to New York to study Judaism. The father contacted the police and said that the school had kidnapped his underage son. When the police came to the dormitory to "rescue" the boy, a large crowd naturally gathered. The father, incensed, ran up to the boy and ringingly slapped his face in front of this impromptu assemblage.
"You know what?" said the officer commanding the police operation. "I didn’t come here to help you beat up your kid." The police left and the boy stayed, eventually becoming a major Talmudic scholar (his son was my classmate in 6th and 7th grades). This is an American attitude. Our politics are unruly, to be sure, but your middle-of-the-road voter is not looking to participate in rounding up one party as cattle to be slaughtered by the other.
Furthermore, the Republican base may be a sleeping giant right now, but a giant it is. There is annoyance at the Republican Congress for not being sufficiently loyal to its principles, overspending and over-indulging and being overly solicitous of liberal sensibilities. Those folks might sit home and sulk in a quiet election, leaving the Democrats to reap what the other guys forgot to sew up. But you think they’re going to sit home and chuckle at Stephanopoulos saying Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Kennedy and Chairman Conyers and Chairman Rangel? Nary a chance.
Not that we’re advocating Republican complacency. This is no time to feel Bushed or to Rove off message; the Mehlman must deliver. There must be coherence, there must be cohesion, there must be energy, and most of all, there must be integrity. This will not be easy, it’s not a gimme, but it is certainly winnable, particularly if these loons on the other side keep frothing at the mouth.
One last point. The Talmud says that there are three personality types that people’s minds simply will not tolerate. One is "a poor man who is arrogant." The Democrats have got nothin’, and they’re already braggin’? That’s not even using the bucket; they’re working with the teacup. For that, no choice of rooms: it’s straight to the basement.