Top 20 most embarrassing moments in the history of the Democratic party
John Hawkins has compiled a fun list of misdeeds, errors, and just plain embarrassing events that he thinks Democrats have been responsible for over the years.
He begins with this quote from Jonah Goldberg's book, "Liberal Fascism":
For example, one will virtually never hear that the Palmer Raids, Prohibition, or American eugenics were thoroughly progressive phenomena. These are sins America itself must atone for. Meanwhile, real or alleged "conservative" misdeeds -- say McCarthyism -- are always the exclusive fault of conservatives and a sign of the policies they would repeat if given power. The only culpable mistake that liberals make is failing to fight "hard enough" for their principles. Liberals are never responsible for historic misdeeds because they feel no compulsion to defend the inherent goodness of America. Conservatives, meanwhile, not only take the blame for events not of their own making that they often worked the most assiduously against, but find themselves defending liberal misdeeds in order to defend America herself.
Goldberg makes some good points, and Hawkins follows up with some interesting, albeit curious choices for what constitutes an embarrassing moment for the Democratic party.
1) The Trail of Tears (1838): The first Democrat President, Andrew Jackson and his successor Martin Van Buren, herded Indians into camps, tormented them, burned and pillaged their homes and forced them to relocate with minimal supplies. Thousands died along the way.
This was a no brainer. Jackson had a pathological hatred of Indians. However, this hatred was shared by many Americans from both parties (the Whigs). The impetus to move the "civilized" tribes originated in states like Georgia and Alabama where the tribes had integrated themselves into the local economies. It may be something of a stretch to place the entire onus of this tragedy on Democrats, but they were in charge when it occurred.
6) Democrats Successfully Stop Republicans From Making Lynching A Federal Crime (1922): "The U.S. House adopted Rep. Leonidas Dyer's (R., Mo.) bill making lynching a federal crime. Filibustering Senate Democrats killed the measure."
This is an interesting choice by John because the arguments made by Demcrats - that lynching was a local matter and Washington had no business interfering in a states rights matter - is one frequently made by the GOP.
10) The West Virgina Democrat primary is rigged by John F. Kennedy (1960): From an interview with the late, great Robert Novak.
Novak points out that the Wall Street Journal had the story of Kennedy vote buying but squelched it in the interest of not playing favorites in he primary. What Novak doesn't mention is that everybody and their brother knew that the way to win in West Virginia was to buy votes at $5 a pop. The people expected to be paid for their vote - an American tradition in many rural areas going back to the founding of the Republic. The real work of winning in WV was done by Franklin Roosevelt, Jr. and mobster Sam Giancano, who delivered a massive union vote to Kennedy. Roosevelt resurrected the name of his sainted father - a powerful symbol of the New Deal in the state.
15) Chappaquiddick (1969): The Democrats' beloved "Liberal Lion" of the Senate, Ted Kennedy ran off the road into a tidal pool with passenger Mary Jo Kopechne in the car. Kennedy swam free and then spent 9 hours plotting how he would reveal the news to the press while she slowly suffocated to death.
A little over the top. No autopsy was ever performed so the cause of death is in dispute. Beyond that, is this really an embarrassment for the Democratic party? Kennedy was not a "liberal lion" in 1969, and was not considered a leader of the party. Most Americans at the time saw it as a personal tragedy, so including this one is a stretch.
This is not to say that there hasn't been numerous embarrassments for the Democrats that they refuse to talk about or acknowledge - their own race baiting for 100 years after the civil war is a good example.
At the very least, Hawkins has given us something to think about whenever the entire GOP gets blamed for embarrassing moments that may not be of its own making.