Not so long ago (2002), distraught Minnesota Democrats famously transformed a memorial service for Senator Paul Wellstone (killed along with his wife, daughter and three campaign staffer in a plane crash) into a partisan campaign rally.
One lowlight of the day was the specter of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott being booed while entering the service while well-known Democrat attendees were cheered. But that wasn’t the half of it: Wellstone’s campaign treasurer turned his eulogy for the beloved senator into a signal call to elect a Democrat to take his place, ([to] “redeem the sacrifice of his life if you help us win this election for Paul Wellstone.”)
A mourning public made known its collective displeasure with the spectacle through a barrage of negative reviews on television, radio and the newspapers – this being the pre-social media dark ages.
The historic nature of the self-inflicted wound would come to light days later when the voters of the reliably blue state rebuffed favorite son and former Vice President Walter Mondale in favor of upstart Republican Norm Coleman.
At the time, the issue of Senate judicial selections was all the rage in Washington, D.C. Accordingly, the partisans in attendance were terrified at the prospect of a new GOP senator helping place more conservatives on the federal bench. Hence, the acting out. But to no avail. Score one for bad behavior punished.
Now think back to early 2017 and the arrival of Donald J. Trump (aka “The Menace”) at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Such was interpreted as yet another existential threat to the Democratic establishment. And so the acting out soon recurred.
First there was the contesting of electors at the Electoral College (Where have we seen this before?).Then, the introduction of Articles of Impeachment during his first year in office.
But all that was merely a stage setter for the multi-year, multi-tiered media and Hillary Clinton and executive branch misinformation campaign about how the dually elected president of the United States was in reality a Russian agent in cahoots with Vladimir Putin.
Here was an attempt to prove the unthinkable, which in the end was indeed proven … unthinkable BUT quite useful and effective as the guy who spent most of the 2020 campaign in his basement garnered 80 million votes to defeat The Menace.
The bottom line: The antagonists got their scalp, even if it took years of inuendo and half-truths and media manipulation to do it. Score one for bad behavior rewarded.
Now comes Act 3. It concerns four (really five, counting the civil action in New York against Trump, Inc.) legal actions brought against Mr. Trump by three different prosecutors.
That two of the prosecutors literally campaigned on a “Get Trump” platform (Is that even ethical?) is of no concern to the Trump antagonists. In the same vein, the fact that even lefty pundits have been unimpressed with the substance of the criminal counts (especially the corporate records/Stormy Daniels “cover-up”) is equally inapposite.
You see, the entire exercise has but one purpose: End The Menace’s career – by whatever means possible – and don’t sweat the details.
And so, a campaign of relentless legal persecution commenced in order to – (1.) Tie The Menace up in courtrooms for the next year, and (2.) Generate at the very least one guilty verdict, somewhere and somehow.
To recap: Unhinged Minnesota Democrats acting out in inappropriate ways cost Senate Democrats big time about 20 years ago. An even more unhinged, but ultimately successful campaign of character assassination bought the fruits of victory in 2020. And now, Act Three unfolds daily before our eyes – this time featuring the full force and effect of government prosecutors brought to bear.
How will it all play out? Will The Menace be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of litigation instigated in a number of inhospitable venues?
Or will the unprecedented overkill transform The Menace into enough of a sympathetic figure to tip the scales on election day?
Nobody knows the answers of course. But recent polls reflect a far more difficult road than the antagonists could ever have expected.
Bob Ehrlich is a former Governor of Maryland, Member of Congress, and State Legislator. He is the author of five books on American politics and opinion pieces that have appeared in America’s leading newspapers and periodicals. He and his wife, Kendel, can be seen and heard on their weekly podcast, “Bottom Line with Bob & Kendel Ehrlich.”
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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