A few days back, a group of overly ambitious tourist entrepreneurs on the shores of the Sea of Azov decided to promote the pleasures of parasailing by attaching a harness to a donkey and launching it into the sky. The donkey spent the longest half hour of its life levitating over the heads of the astonished crowd before it descended flailing and terrified into the sea, barely surviving its rescue. “Another emblem there!” as the poet William Butler Yeats wrote. “Aww, poor donkey,” as Shrek might have said.
For perhaps a year or two the Democratic mascot did considerably better than its parasailing counterpart, wafting triumphantly over the political landscape and looking almost aerodynamic. This was not to last. Following Obama’s impressive victory in the 2008 presidential election, coupled with control of both Congress and Senate, the Democratic Party succumbed to the besetting vice of political culture, namely, hubris, convinced that it was destined for perpetual glory and would dominate American political life for generations to come. It could not lose. It could do no wrong. Its agenda was unassailable. It was not accountable to the electorate since it represented the future. Clearly, the iconic donkey was flying high and gave every indication of intending to stay aloft. Republicans could only gaze upward in rueful wonder and paralyzing resignation.
But things are changing dramatically. True, the Republican Party appears somewhat disheveled and has certainly suffered its share of disreputable characters, problematic candidates, political scandals, and poor strategizing. It still needs to get its act together, but happily is not in as bad a shape as it once was. The Democrats in their present incarnation, however, have grown so debauched with power and so fiscally reprobate that Nemesis has plainly decided to send them hurtling back to earth.
A party led by a president who breaks promises like eggs for breakfast and that features tax cheats like Tim Geithner, Marxists like Van Jones, Maoists like Anita Dunn, ignoramuses like Joe Biden and Janet Napolitano, clueless duffers like Steven Chu, shrieking blowhards like Howard Dean, hypocrites like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Hillary Clinton, and moral degenerates like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel, David Axelrod and the late John Murtha, among innumerable others, does not deserve to remain in power for long. And indeed, the prevailing winds do not augur well for the Democrats. A recent Quinnipiac poll reveals that a majority of American voters are having second thoughts about Obama and, by extension, about the Democrats, who cannot be expected to fare appreciably better than their once revered leader. The poll, writes David Patten in his report, “is likely to sound alarm bells on Capitol Hill where many members of Congress will be up for reelection in November.”
A flying donkey cannot hover and glide indefinitely before the principle of natural deceleration kicks in. And so will it likely be with the Democrats, a party that may once have enjoyed griffin-like characteristics, sporting the wings of the American eagle and given to soaring. No longer. It is on the way down to a well-deserved ignominious landing, having exceeded its proper element of humble terrestrial governance and thus effectively perverted its mandate.
For reality weighs heavily upon a party that, in seeking to transform American life from the ground up by any and all means at its disposal — including entertaining the possibility of violating the Constitution, in some cases actually moving to do so, and most recently flouting the Voting Rights Act — has only turned itself into a parasailing caricature of administrative sobriety, practical restraint, and legal accountability. The Democrats have forgotten the invariable law of existence, to which politics is no exception: in the end, gravity always wins.
Luckily for the Republicans, for the time being at any rate, elephants are not so easily rendered airborne.