Please Support JNS
Jewish news that makes sense
the pulpit

The GOP: Still bringing a knife to a gunfight

Republicans need to urgently hone their skills in waging political warfare, especially with the upcoming runoffs in Georgia that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Republican and Democratic Party logos. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Republican and Democratic Party logos. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Martin Sherman
Martin Sherman

“’ve been active in the Republican party for a very long time. So I think I can say with some knowledge: Republicans play badminton; Democrats play pro football.” — Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, FoxNews, Nov. 15, 2020

“Something is rotten in the State of Denmark.” — A phrase from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” used to describe corruption or a situation in which something is wrong.

For any fair-minded person, even one who, for some reason, harbors a deep personal animus towards Donald Trump, the conduct and resultant outcome of this month’s presidential elections ought to be deeply troubling.

Despite a continuous and orchestrated assault

After all, the (still) incumbent president increased his overall electoral support by more than 10 percent nationwide, despite a continuous and orchestrated assault on the legitimacy of his administration by virtually the entire mainstream media; a blatant and uninterrupted endeavor by his political adversaries—beginning even before his inauguration—to circumvent the electoral process and unseat him through the unscrupulous and fraudulent corruption of the legal system. Thus, Trump won well more than 70 million votes in 2020 compared to just less than 63 million in 2016, even exceeding the previous record support for former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2008. Moreover, Trump made marked gains in virtually all ethnic minority constituencies with the notable exception of Jewish voters.

Yet somehow, this was not enough to beat the aging, lackluster Democratic candidate, whose running mate, Kamala Harris, proved distinctly unpopular even within her own party. Indeed, having never managed to break into the top tier of candidates, she was forced to drop out of the primaries in early December 2019, nine months before the Democratic National Convention in August 2020. Indeed, as Biden’s running mate, Harris is a somewhat puzzling choice, having engaged him in an acrimonious exchange during the primaries debates, sharply attacking his record on race relations, complicity with segregationists and multiple complaints of sexual impropriety.

Even more perplexing

Perhaps even more perplexing is the fact that Joe Biden racked up the highest popular vote ever—despite an anemic (to be charitable) campaign and the tangible lack of enthusiasm he aroused among voters. Indeed, as one media channel noted: “Biden’s performance [in exceeding Obama’s record] is incredible considering the voter enthusiasm—especially among young people—that his former boss had in 2008.”

Moreover, a heavy cloud of corruption, abuse of office and influence-pedaling hangs—or, at least, should hang—over Biden and his complicity in his family’s questionable business activities in countries not among the U.S.’s traditional allies, including Russia and China, America’s most serious geopolitical rivals.

However, not all the blame for the results of the presidential election can be attributed to the external animus of the political adversaries and their comrades-in-arms. To the contrary, considerable fault must be found with the inherent lethargy and sluggishness that seems to plague the GOP in any political “dust-up” with its Democratic adversaries. Indeed, they seem to lack the “fire in the belly” to seize on their opponents’ weaknesses and transgressions, however glaring, and to turn them to their political advantage.

The Democrats have shown that they have no qualms in conjuring up—literally out of thin air—the gravest of allegations against Republicans and their associates and wielding it, without any compunction, as a political weapon, regardless of whose lives are ruined.

Pot calling kettle black?

Ironically, the Democrats have themselves committed (typically, flagrantly) the very transgressions (such as collusion with foreign powers to promote personal interests) of which they accuse the Republicans on the basis of fabricated—or at best, fragile—evidence.

Indeed, the Democrats and their collegial bureaucrats have been engaged—or at least, complicit—in every dirty trick in the book, and even some that have not made their way into it; and then holler “foul” aggrievedly when their duplicity and deceit are exposed. Sadly, it seems the GOP tends to be taken aback by these howls of feigned outrage—and recoil from any robust and timely counteractions.

Arguably, the starkest illustration of this is the snail-paced progress in the completion of the Durham Report and the excruciating wait for its publication, which was delayed until after the November elections, with any potential political impact largely defused, if not indefinitely curtailed.

Launched in April 2016 by Attorney General William Barr to review the origins of the FBI’s investigation (dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane”), the probe was headed by U.S. Attorney John Durham, into Democrat-initiated allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, which Barr described as one of the “greatest travesties in American history.” Elsewhere, Barr excoriated the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation, asserting: “I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press.”

No less damning are the words of former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy: “The investigation was fabricated, sprung from bogus information ginned up by the political campaign of Trump’s opponents. As exculpatory evidence inevitably mounted, moreover, the politicized investigation was sustained by the Obama administration and the Mueller special counsel probe—the latter chockablock with partisan Democratic lawyers, some of them Obama Justice Department officials.”

Justice delayed is justice denied … possibly for good

Some have suggested that by refraining from pre-election release of the inquiry, the Department of Justice wished to avoid accusations that its probe was “political” and was adhering to an unwritten “60-day rule,” according to which federal prosecutors should refrain from indicting political candidates, or taking “overt” steps in investigating candidates within 60 days of an election.

But, as McCarthy argues, the application of this informal and unwritten rule would be highly inappropriate. Indeed, not publishing its findings prior to the elections was in itself a political act, in that it would preclude highly pertinent information from voters, potentially crucial in making their decision as to for whom to cast their vote.

Accordingly, the findings of an inquiry of almost 20 months into whether or not the Democratic party mechanism was involved in colluding with a foreign power to tip the 2016 election, defrauding the FISA court that helped launch a specious special counsel probe, resulting in the squandering of thousands of work hours and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars seems something voters ought to be aware of before they make their way to the ballot box.

Caustically, McCarthy remarks, “Now, the ‘60-day rule’ is translated: “Don’t dare bring any cases or make any disclosures that could cast the Obama administration in a bad light.”

Moreover, some Justice Department officials expressed concern that if Durham’s work were not completed while Trump is still in office, the investigation could well be shuttered in some future Biden administration—with justice then not only being delayed but permanently denied.

Transforming America into a de-Americanized post-America?

It is important to realize that the central point being made here goes beyond—and precedes—the question of whether or not it was large-scale voter fraud that brought Biden the electoral results he attained.

While cognizant of the considerable difficulties facing a Trump reelection bid, this does not diminish the imperative for the GOP to prevail. The party needs to urgently hone its skills in waging political warfare, especially with the upcoming twin runoffs in Georgia that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Ironically (or ominously?), it was in Georgia in 2018 where former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (2009-15), in the Obama administration proclaimed at a Democratic rally to the applause and cheers of the audience: “When they go low, we kick them. … That’s what this new Democratic Party is about.”

The GOP would do well to heed these bellicose words and draw the commensurate conclusions from them.

After all, winning both the runoffs in January (early voting begins mid-December) is the only thing that can prevent the Democrats from making a clean sweep of the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

With a cardboard cutout for president, it is the only thing that can prevent people driven by a political credo, forged by figures and ideas not only different from, but entirely contrary to, those who made America America from usurping the reins of unrestrained power. It is, indeed, the only thing that can prevent them from transforming America into a de-Americanized post-America—an unrecognizable shadow of its former self.

To achieve this critically important aim, the Republicans must—to quote former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—understand that they cannot achieve victory in the political game by continuing to play by badminton rules on a pro-football field.

They must realize that it is time to stop bringing ineffectual knives to what is essentially a ruthless gunfight. There is just too much at stake to give any quarter.

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

Be a part of our community

JNS serves as the central hub for a thriving community of readers who appreciate the invaluable context our coverage offers on Israel and their Jewish world.

Please join our community and help support our unique brand of Jewish journalism that makes sense.

Support JNS
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates