- - Sunday, November 27, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

You can always tell a liberal, but you apparently can’t tell him much. The biggest names of the Democratic Party, who now call themselves progressives, have endorsed Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota to be the new chairman of the party, to lead it as it attempts to regain the confidence of the nation. Sens. Bernard Sanders of New Hampshire, Chuck Schumer of New York, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are telling their constituents to join Mr. Ellison in a rush to oblivion.

They’re apparently working without a map, counting on Mr. Ellison’s dead reckoning, with dead being the operative word. Mr. Ellison is the chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a man who worked his heart out for Bernard Sanders in the primaries this year, and that, alas, is the respectable part of his curriculum vitae. He worked earlier for Louis Farrakhan, the notoriously anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam, and a man with cozy relationships with radical Islamic jihadists make him a symbol of exactly what the Democrats don’t need as the face of their party.

Mr. Ellison is himself a Muslim and a conspiracy theorist of the first rank. He compared the 9/11 attack on New York and the World Trade Center to the Reichstag fire, which brought Hitler to power in Germany, suggesting that 9/11 was initiated not by Osama bin Laden and the radical Islam terrorists, but by the George W. Bush administration to ignite a holy war against Islam. Mr. Ellison’s idea for a successful Democratic comeback two years hence is to double down on everything that cost Hillary Clinton the election. He prescribes a disastrous single-payer health scheme to replace Obamacare, a campaign to repeal the Second Amendment, and other unlikely unpleasant things.

He’s no latter day convert to the nostrums of the radical left. He wants to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves and establish a separate homeland for blacks. He disavowed Louis Farrakhan, sort of, to clean up his reputation once he was elected to Congress. He said he didn’t really know very much about Mr. Farrakhan, whom he had followed and for whom he had worked for years, once organizing a march to accuse the FBI of plotting the murder of Mr. Farrakhan.

The Democrats might be tempted to elect Mr. Ellison when they meet next March because they have such slim pickings now. Other candidates for party leadership are Howard Dean, the onetime candidate for the party’s presidential nomination and an earlier chairman of the party; the relentlessly ambitious and unpopular former governor of Maryland, and Ilyse Hogue, the president of the National Abortion Rights Action League. They all seem determined to drive the party off the cliff, serene in their confidence that everyone will prosper the first three or four seconds of the plunge.

Several Democratic senators among the large group of senators up for re-election in 2018 might be excused for thinking that Mr. Schumer, Ms. Warren and the other party leaders susceptible to the Ellison charm have lost their minds. This might be good for the short-term prospects of the Republicans, but it’s a sad prospect for the nation, which needs two strong, responsible and level-headed political parties.

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