The Democrat Party, whose roots are in the Ku Klux Klan, big city machine politics, giant and corrupt unions, and fatuous Leftism provide few bright lights in American history. Robert Byrd, chosen by Democrats to lead them in the Senate, was not an aberration. Democrats appointed men who joined or planned to join the Klan to the Supreme Court, one to be Attorney General, and even one President, Harry Truman, although when he found out the Klan hated Catholics, he withdrew his application.
Joe Kennedy, himself a Catholic (and also an anti-Semite) had no problem making common cause with anti-Catholic Klansmen or mobsters or thuggish bosses of big cities. The 1960 presidential election, very likely, was stolen by Kennedy and his son, the president, engaged in profoundly immoral personal behavior while in the White House. The last testament of the Kennedy Dynasty was Teddy, the drunken, womanizing cad who was kicked out of Harvard for cheating and who escaped a manslaughter conviction because he was a Kennedy. Teddy conspired with the Kremlin to stop Reagan’s campaign to end the Evil Empire.
Some Democrats, notably Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, Senator Eugene McCarthy and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, were good men, “mench,” whose politics were all wrong, but whose character and decency were very real. Despite his moral ugliness in many other respects, Jimmy Carter loved his wife and his mother, and he served his country honorably. But the pool of decent Democrats is shrinking fast.
Bill Clinton introduced not only adultery, but sexual harassment and possibly rape to the Presidency. The moral sludge which oozed up from Travelgate, Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky, and all the rest seemed almost surreal to Americans taught a few decades earlier, with Nixon, that lying to Congress was a moral and a civil crime meriting impeachment. Now, Clinton’s flacks on the Left urged us to see that lying was often good.
Did Democrats race away from this ghastly goon the way Republicans ran away from Richard Nixon? Hardly. His vice president, Al Gore, won the Democrat nomination and almost the Presidency without the ocean of Clintonian muck slowing him down at all (now Al is disconnected to the only thing that made him human, Tipper, a loyal wife and good woman.) Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton (or Rodham, as it suited her) was considered a shoo-in for the 2008 Democrat nomination. People, it seemed, pined for the good old days of Slick Willie. The party of Mansfield and Humphrey, though still radically Leftist, was now almost wholly without a fig leaf of honor.
So Joe Biden, whose presidential campaign in 1988 was scuttled because of his dishonesty in plagiarism and whose fellow senator, Gary Hart, suffered for his jocular infidelity, was now perfectly acceptable to Democrats in 2008. Four years earlier, in 2004, Kerry won the nomination but John Edwards, the “Breck Girl,” as Rush Limbaugh dubbed him, came in second with over 3 million votes. Kerry picked Edwards as his running mate. Edwards sought the nomination again in 2008, and ran ahead of Hillary in Iowa, before dropping out and endorsing Obama – and he was still the third highest candidate in terms of primary votes.
John Edwards was the man Kerry wanted to be Vice President. He was the man who could have been President right now, if the cards had fallen just a little differently. We ought, then, to ponder for the sake of the Republic – and to understand why our nation is in such profound trouble – the moral standards for Democrat leaders: who is this “Breck girl”? He is a man who cheated on his wife when she was dying of cancer. He is a man who had sex with Rielle Hunter in his wife’s bed. Edwards lied about the affair; he lied about the child he fathered in these creepy assignations; John Edwards even tried to get an aide to pretend that he fathered the child; and through everything at almost every point Edwards lived by the Clintonian maxim “lying is okay.” The “Breck Girl,” is in truth the “Dreck Girl.” When his wife Elizabeth died a few days ago, her husband, John Edwards, was not invited to speak. Think of that – after thirty-three years of marriage, John Edwards said nothing at his wife’s funeral. The “Dreck Girl” was an unperson, someone too unsavory for even Democrats.
There are some common threads to this descent into the maelstrom of malicious muck. John Kennedy, like Bill Clinton, like John Edwards, like (well, you know who) is handsome on camera. Clinton took narcissistic care of his appearance and the “Breck Girl,” well, was the prettiest boy in a group of pretty boys. Once Democrats embraced ordinary or homely men like Stevenson and Humphrey, but by 1960, prettiness counted more.
Beyond placing image over substance, Democrats had to play fast and loose with the truth. They had to be able, in sworn depositions, to question what “is” is. They had to be very lawyerly politicians – like Bill, like Hillary, like Kerry, like Barack, like Michelle, like Joe, like John and even like Elizabeth. Even Al went to law school (although he did not become a lawyer) and learned when “No controlling legal authority” could become a mantra of excuse. What happens to a party when looks count more than honor and when legalese outranks decency? That party fathers creatures like the “Dreck Girl” and the ghost of Mike Mansfield shudders.