- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“We just had a shellacking. We just got a shellacking last Tuesday. We got an unexpected defeat and we’ve got to recalibrate it and decide how we go forward,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus told CNN this week after Donald Trump and Republicans swept elections in the House and Senate. “It’s just like death. There are difference stages of grief you go through.”

In the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — it looks as though Democrats are in the bargaining phase, and as they wrestle within their own ranks, the progressive wing looks to have the upper hand.

First came denial.

President Barack Obama, whose approval rating sits at above 50 percent, refused to admit it his policy failures — most notably Obamacare — had anything to do with Hillary Clinton’s loss. President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on repealing his signature healthcare law, undoing his executive actions and dismantling his international trade deals and environmental accords. Mr. Trump’s win was, in part, a repudiation of Mr. Obama’s worldview.

But not according to Mr. Obama.

“We are indisputably in a stronger position today than we were when I came in eight years ago. Jobs have been growing for 73 straight months. Incomes are rising. Poverty is falling. The uninsured rate is at the lowest level on record. Carbon emissions have come down without impinging on our growth,” Mr. Obama said in a press conference Monday, the first he had since Mrs. Clinton’s stunning loss.

On his overseas trip to Greece, he reiterated this delusion, saying he only feels responsible as president to ensure Mr. Trump has a smooth transition, and again rejected the idea Mr. Trump’s winning had anything to do with his own agenda.

Next comes the anger.

Mrs. Clinton and her husband, Bill Clinton, seem to be at this stage of grief.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, Bill and Hillary had a screaming match over who to blame for her loss, with the ex-president getting so angry he threw his phone off the roof of his Arkansas penthouse.

The fight was reportedly “knock-down, drag-out” with Mrs. Clinton wanting to blame FBI Director James Comey for her defeat, and Mr. Clinton suggesting it was her campaign manager and chairman who were “tone-deaf” when it came to addressing the concerns of the middle-class and how the waning economy was impacting their lives.

“Bill was so red in the face during his conversation with Hillary that I worried he was going to have a heart attack. He got so angry that he threw his phone off the roof of his penthouse apartment and toward the Arkansas River,” one of Mr. Clinton’s advisers, who was present at the time, told the Daily Mail.

Now enter the bargaining phase — which is pitting the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, against the establishment folks.

In the first inkling of disagreement, a Democratic National Committee staffer exploded on interim chief Donna Brazile during an internal meeting last week, blaming her — and the party establishment — for Mr. Trump’s win.

“Why should we trust you as chair to lead us through this?” a staffer named Zach asked, according to an account two people gave to the Huffington Post. “You backed a flawed candidate, and your friend [former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz] plotted through this to support your own gain and yourself.”

“You are part of the problem,” he continued, blaming Ms. Brazile for clearing the path for Mr. Trump’s victory by siding with Mrs. Clinton early on, the Huffington Post reported. “You and your friends will die of old age and I’m going to die from climate change. You and your friends let this happen, which is going to cut 40 years off my life expectancy.”

In a bid to takeover the DNC, the progressives have backed Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison — a progressive bomb-thrower in his own right — to become DNC Chair.

And the challenges don’t stop there.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi had to delay House leadership elections until after Thanksgiving, as a progressive uprising threatened her place at the throne. On Thursday, she tried to intimidate her rivals by saying she already had the support of “more than two-thirds” of the Democratic caucus.

But that didn’t deter Rep. Tim Ryan, of Ohio, who decided to run against Mrs. Pelosi for leadership on Thursday, saying Democrats have veered too far away from the working-class. Reports also surfaced the same day that rebellious Democrats were urging New York Rep. Joe Crowley to challenge Mrs. Pelosi.

Mrs. Pelosi, 76, hasn’t really faced any opposition to her power in the last half-dozen years, showing just how deep a sense of unease there is within the Democratic ranks. On the Senate side, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer rewarded Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders with a leadership role, to help quell the divide. Despite the elevated position, Mr. Sanders refuses to join the Democratic Party, preferring his status as an Independent.

Whoever comes out victorious — the progressives or the establishment — will lead the Democrats through their depression, and then onto their acceptance phase of grief, where a new platform will be drawn, and the ashes of the Clinton and Obama past will be left behind.

Kelly Riddell is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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