‘Donald Trump has managed to control the media cycle on a daily basis in ways that have made it difficult to communicate our message…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Ignoring the fact that their own preoccupation with President Donald Trump was the principal source of their woes, Democrats on Monday bemoaned the lack of equal attention.
“Donald Trump has managed to control the media cycle on a daily basis in ways that have made it difficult to communicate our message,” whined Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, although it was unclear what message he was referring to that was unrelated to the president.
Resistance to Trump’s political agenda and efforts to censure, impeach or indict him have been a signature part of nearly every legislative action taken by the Left in some way during the current 116th Congress.
Consequently, the House has focused on passing bills that stand no chance of clearing the Senate, creating an overarching sense of gridlock on anything but the partisan Democrats’ incessant efforts to investigate Trump administration.
Recent data compiled by The Washington Post said the result was that, through May, Trump had generated three times as much Google search traffic in the U.S. this year as all his Democratic rivals combined.
He also saw 75% more interactions on the three leading social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Rather than acquiesce to Trump, the knee-jerk reaction of the Left often has been to ratchet up its own rhetoric, resulting in the party’s ideological drift to the fringes.
As younger firebrands like Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez draw comparisons with Trump on their rhetorical style, older Democrats—including current Democrat front-runner Joe Biden—have reluctantly shifted their policies away from center to placate the rabid base and compensate for a lack of pizzazz.
“You will find yourself jerked around on Donald Trump’s chain unless you are creating fights,” said Brian Fallon, a former strategist for Democrats including Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton who now oversees the organization Demand Justice.
Fallon played a pivotal role in the resistance efforts against Justice Brett Kavanaugh and in helping to engineer the uncorroborated rape accusations against Kavanaugh by California woman Christine Blasey–Ford.
Despite the nation-rending clash over Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Trump ultimately emerged victorious when the FBI investigation into the accusations yielded nothing, further eroding confidence in the Democratic opposition that had staked much of its own credibility in the fight.
Trouble for Perez
According to Politico, the blowback from the Left’s internal rift is starting to reach Perez, just as he scrambles to prepare for the first round of Democratic primary debates taking place over two nights next week.
Some old-guard Democrats are openly expressing aggravation with the DNC chair’s capitulation to the more clamorous voices on the party’s outer reaches—including the clumsy job of determining which candidates made the final cut in a field of more than 20 for the upcoming debates.
“It’s got to be the biggest nightmare Perez ever possibly imagined,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told Politico.
Among those who didn’t make it was Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat in a deeply red state who said he got a late start due to his state legislature still being in session and failed to gain ample traction in the polling and fundraising metrics that were used.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., also criticized Perez’s handling of revamped rules addressing the role of superdelegates in the DNC—a major point of contention in the 2016 rivalry between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
In what was seemingly an effort to tilt the balance more toward the electorate and less to party elites, Perez diminished the role of the lawmakers, leading Connolly to complain that those in Congress had become ““second-class citizens in our convention,” according to Politico.
Connolly said the complaints could spell trouble for Perez, who ascended into the role after internal scandals during the last election forced out his predecessors, Debbie Wasserman–Schultz and Donna Brazile.
“I don’t think he has a reservoir of goodwill here among my colleagues in the Congress. And I think he’s lost a lot of stature,” Connolly said of Perez. “… That puts him in a very exposed position that is one problem away from being terminal.”
In Search of a Scapegoat
Perez, who was widely criticized for blacklisting ratings leader Fox News from the DNC debate schedule, pointed fingers at national media outlets for the recent woes.
Despite the pervading liberal biases of many news institutions, Trump’s success at dominating the headlines was their fault, he claimed.
“I think the media needs some soul-searching,” Perez told The Washington Post.
“Too many media outlets and journalists wake up in the morning look to his Twitter feed and that dictates their day,” he said.
Some media sources agreed with Perez that Trump’s persona was simply more television-friendly, appealing to viewers’ penchant for the sensational.
“Trump’s sound bites are more incendiary, more unseemly, more crudely insulting—and therefore spicier for TV news to use,” network news analyst Andrew Tyndall told The Post.
Democrat critics put it more bluntly.
“We have a culture that rewards the clown show at the expense of real issues,” said Guy Cecil, chairman of the superPAC Priorities USA.
Although Democrat dark-money groups like Priorities USA intend to spend heavily attacking Trump, however, that could ultimately feed into their problem.
Not only does the president have the advantages of a bigger bully pulpit and a well-amassed campaign war-chest of his own, but he also has a well-primed base that is inured by the years of “witch hunts,” “fishing expeditions” and “cry wolf” attacks against conservatives that have since been discredited.
With Trump functioning as a lightning rod for Democrats’ wrath and attention, the result is a party that is far more coalesced around the the president than its diffuse counterpart is in opposition.
Still, some Democrats continued to put their trust in the process—that the large field of primary contenders on the Left would ultimately concentrate all its energies on a single candidate best equipped to take on Trump and unify the disparate voices in the party.
“The field will winnow. And I don’t think that it’s worth it for the DNC to be involved in the winnowing,” Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, told Politico. “I don’t find it concerning or alarming to have 20 people running for president. I think it’s great.”
As Trump formally kicks off his own campaign Tuesday, there will likely be a greater sense of urgency to do so sooner than later, lest the gap continue to widen.