These are trying times for Democrats. They control neither the Senate nor the House, and fare even worse at the state and local levels.
The economy, after six plus years of the Obama presidency, is so-so. President Obama’s foreign policy has produced setback after serious setback.
To make matters worse, the Democrats are almost certain to nominate for president the co-architect of Obama’s failed foreign policy. And Hillary Clinton’s campaign launch has been rocky, to say the least. She lacks natural campaigning ability and is scandal-ridden, to boot.
It’s fashionable to say that politics is downstream from culture. It may even be true. But the Duggar and Jenner discharges are very unlikely to make it downstream.
Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion, they are not. They don’t even rise to the level of Quemoy and Matsu.
As I understand it, a few members of the vast Republican presidential field said nice things about Josh Duggar and had their picture taken with him. But this was before they had any reason to believe that, as a teenager, he molested his sisters. Regardless of whom the Republicans nominate for president, Josh Duggar will be a non-issue.
As for Jenner, she is said to pose a dilemma for Republicans. Do they take a live-and-let-live stance? Or do they express alarm, and thus risk being viewed by many as hopelessly out of touch?
For some Republicans the first response will be self-evidently appropriate. For others the second response will be, and how that response is viewed by others will be of no concern. For a few, the dilemma will be real.
As for the presidential race, Republican candidates need not express any opinion at all. A candidate won’t lose the nomination for not being baited by the media into coming down hard on Jenner’s decision. Nor will a nominee lose the election for declining to opine on an issue — the personal decision to declare that one has changed gender — that has no real bearing on the duties or decisions of the president.
We live in an increasingly frivolous world, but not a world this frivolous.
If Duggar and Jenner have any political consequences for Republicans, the consequences are potentially positive. Republicans have been known to trip themselves up by over-elaborating their views on social issues. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock are the two main examples.
If a serious member of the crowded presidential field trips himself up over Josh Duggar or Caitlin Jenner, primary voters and caucus goers will have the information they need to avoid nominating so obvious a knucklehead.
JOHN adds: Amen. Scott Walker, whose instinct on such matters is generally good, responded to a question about Jenner in a manner that should be a model for other candidates: “Well, I think it’s a personal decision. And to me, I don’t know that there’s anything more to comment on.” Lindsay Graham’s comment that Jenner is “welcome in my party” is good too, although not very illuminating. Isn’t everyone welcome to be a Republican? I think so.