Steve wrote here and here about a new book, previewed by a now-notorious op-ed in the Washington Post, by Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein, who offices with Steve at the American Enterprise Institute. Mann and Ornstein argue that the whole problem with our political system can be summed up in three words: the Republican Party. Republicans, they write, are extreme and unwilling to compromise.
My point here is not to contradict that absurd thesis, but to note an email that arrived in my inbox today from the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee. It was, of course, a fundraising appeal–they all are. He wrote:
We’re seeing it play out in Congress, in local races, and in the attack on women’s health at all levels — Republican conservatism has shifted dramatically to the right.
I love that–“the attack on women’s health”! This might make some kind of sense if we were going around sneezing on women in subways, or giving them STDs. But we tend to leave that sort of thing to the Democrats.
In a recent Washington Post op-ed co-authored by Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein, a leading conservative political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, here’s how the scholars describe the current state of affairs:
The email quotes from the Post op-ed referred to above, concluding with “The only way to restore our democracy and break this extreme ideological hold is to defeat these Republicans at the polls.” Now, do you seriously believe that “a leading conservative political scientist” has written that the only way to restore our democracy is by voting exclusively for Democrats? I have noted more than once over the years that, while I do not have a high opinion of the intelligence of the average Democratic voter, even I do not consider them as hopelessly stupid as the leaders of their own party evidently do.
Needless to say, Ornstein is no conservative. Steve could no doubt cite chapter and verse, but let’s just quote a few lines from Ornstein’s Wikipedia entry:
Ornstein helped draft key parts of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act.
And he has written hysterically against the Citizens United decision.
Ornstein is a long-time friend of current U. S. Senator and former comedian Al Franken. Ornstein considers himself a centrist.
Sure he does. He’s right in the middle of the pack with Al Franken. Even the most cursory review of Ornstein’s writings will confirm that he is an ideologically committed liberal. But the Democratic Party apparently believes their fundraising appeal will have a little more punch if they claim the idea that Republicans are “extreme” is endorsed even by conservatives.
This was the point I started out to make: the subject heading of the DNC’s email is “Knock out the GOP.” Do you remember those long-gone days of yore when the Democrats were pro-civility? When they warned that using martial imagery was an invitation to homicide? I think that was 2010, or was it 2011? Anyway, it was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Being a Democrat means never having to explain why you’ve changed your tune.
STEVE adds: Ornstein is a friend and a cordial professional colleague down the hall, but one of my roles at AEI is delivering some smack when he hits the Franken-sauce too hard. (I refer to him as “Brother Ornstein” when I’m in full reproach mode.) I’ll be doing a formal debate with Norm at AEI on June 11—we’re getting so much interest we may well sell tickets and print up t-shirts—and from time to time I’ve responded to Norm online, such as this piece responding to his attack on the Republicans’ use of the filibuster in the Senate, which concludes: “The irony here is that recourse to the ballot box is the same remedy Brother Ornstein and other opponents of term limits have (rightly in my view) advocated for that source of our democratic discontent. Why isn’t the remedy he and others suggest for entrenched incumbency just as good for the filibuster?”
And then there’s this blog entry, where I begin “Sometimes I think Brother Ornstein gets up in the morning and wonders, ‘How can I provoke Hayward today?’ (I confess to thinking the converse of this—or is it the obverse? Whatever. . .)”
I’m not done. Stay tuned.