From the Weekly Standard:
For some reason, I find myself thinking a lot about Paul Wellstone’s funeral lately. A popular and outspoken liberal Democrat, the Minnesota senator died tragically in a plane crash just weeks before the 2002 election. Not surprisingly, emotions ran high, culminating in a nationally televised funeral that morphed into a raucous political pep rally.
Some of the speeches took on a harsh partisan tone and the crowd booed Trent Lott, then the Senate Republican leader, when he entered the arena at the University of Minnesota for the service. Afterward, some of the organizers apologized for the tone of the event, but the damage had been done. Democrats assumed that former Vice Presidential Walter Mondale would be able to ride the tide of emotion and hold Wellstone’s seat, but Mondale wound up losing to Republican Norm Coleman (who would, in turn, lose to comedian Al Franken six years later). Many observers blamed the backlash to the funeral at least in part for his defeat.
Which brings us to the latest iteration of over-the-top political theatricality—last week’s hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Democrats are understandably concerned about the nomination, but the histrionics of senators Corey Booker, Kamala Harris, and even a few who are not running for president, suggest that he Democrats have a deeper problem: Demagoguery is a helluva drug and some Democrats apparently cannot help themselves from over-reaching, even it undermines their case.
That may not be decisive in the upcoming midterms, but it poses a longer-term problem for the party, especially in 2020. And it seems awfully familiar to those of us who watched what has happened to Republicans and conservatives over the last decade.