It is a tough time to be a Democrat. The weeks that follow a defeat at the ballot box are never flattering for the losers, but this time around, the Democrats seem to be particularly demoralized. Their melancholy and fatigue appear to be getting worse. Their opposition to President-elect Donald Trump and the Republicans is lame, lazy and leaderless. Eventually they will get their game back, but I admit to feeling some satisfaction watching them struggle as the confirmation hearings for Trump's Cabinet picks get underway.
Jeff Sessions, R, my senator from Alabama, appears to be waltzing to his confirmation as attorney general. In response, the best the Democrats can do is roll out an oldie but goody -- specifically, a corny sit-in at one of Sessions' offices. NAACP President Cornell William Brooks (who was, of course, arrested at the recent sit-in) says they are "prepared to sometimes engage in activity that some would describe as radical." Radical? A cliche, '60s-style sit-in? Is that the best they can do?
The Democrats are also suddenly outraged that some of Trump's Cabinet picks, namely Betsy DeVos, are also GOP donors. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wrote in a letter to DeVos ahead of DeVos' hearing that "making large political contributions to 'buy influence' does not qualify you to help set policy for the education of America's school children." That is beyond hypocritical; it is wildly insulting. Since when does being politically active and a good, civic-minded donor disqualify someone from serving in a Cabinet position? Do the Democrats really want to go there?
Meanwhile, out in Hollywood, the left is hyperventilating. You have only to look at the breathless adoration from the left for actress Meryl Streep's "Woe is me, Hollywood is the victim" speech on Sunday night at the Golden Globes. Streep, who was -- and still is -- a major Hillary Clinton supporter, attacked Trump and then excused herself, saying "disrespect invites disrespect." The Democratic elites are in the midst of a major pity party. It would almost be funny if it weren't so pathetic.
So what is the takeaway for Republicans as the Democrats grasp at straws and try to regain their footing? Republicans must avoid giving the Democrats a hand up as they wallow in defeat and avoid doing what the Democrats want Republicans to do.
The mini-scandal of the Republicans' vote to move the independent Office of Congressional Ethics under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee was not a good way to kick off the 115th Congress. Regardless of the merits of the move, the optics played into the Democrats' hands and allowed them to dominate the headlines on the first day, when Republicans should have had the upper hand with a powerful message.
And while we're at it, when I read Michael Rosenwald's piece in The Washington Post about the move to make it easier to buy a silencer for your gun, I thought it might be from the Onion, or at the very least, that there might be "April Fools!" written in bold print at the end of the piece. My second thought was that maybe my pals in the newsroom were over-hyping the story to feed a negative stereotype of gun-crazed Republicans.
So I called an authentic, smart, tea party Republican I know, and sure enough, the story is for real. A lot of Republicans actually want the federal government to loosen restrictions on gun silencers. What? Think of all the people who are alive today because they heard the sounds of shots fired and escaped to safety. Even in The Washington Post's account of the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, a driver who was waiting for former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to arrive is quoted as saying that he heard the gunfire and "immediately dropped to the floor." Gun noise prevents gun deaths, and that's that. To suggest otherwise is ludicrous.
There are plenty of good causes Republicans in Congress could be working on and that Donald Trump Jr. could lend his considerable clout to. This is not one of them. The GOP shouldn't go near the gun silencer issue with a 10-foot pole -- even one with a silencer attached.
Republicans are about to face a lot of difficult fights in Congress, from the repeal and replacement of Obamacare to implementing tax reform to balancing the budget and paying down our national debt. They need to be smart and laser-focused on the issues that really matter. The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress will have their hands full even without giving the Democrats extra ammo.
• 12/21/16: The Russians weren't that good; the Obama administration was that bad
• 09/19/16: Trump's economic plan is a good start
• 07/26/16: Hillary faces three challenges that are unique to her and to this era in modern politics
• 06/15/16: The Obama administration starts work to save Hillary's hind
• 06/01/16: The long lines at airports are a problem for Hillary Clinton
• 05/23/16: Three reasons Bernie Sanders should stay in the race
• 05/17/16: Obama calling the kettle black
• 03/29/16: Can we talk about Ted Cruz?
• 03/10/16: After Tuesday's results, all eyes are on Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell