To arms! The Confederates are coming! The Confederates are coming!
Union scouts have already discovered Robert E. Lee at the gates of the city, lining up the gallant Pelham’s artillery to fire the opening round, and Stonewall Jackson and Jeb Stuart are expected to arrive on a night train from the Shenandoah Valley.
Not since First Manassas, when the Yankees fled the battlefield in blind panic, after taking a licking in the first battle of the Cruel War of Northern Aggression, has the Capital quailed in such fear and trembling.
This time it’s only an army of marble, but marble men are apparently enough against a foe of the weak and the weary of combat. Cities, counties and states across the nation have been taking down Southern statuary for days — brave Baltimore waited for the cover of night to do the deed — all in hopes of being spared the wrath of the regiments of bronze and marble regiments. Californians scoured graveyards for evidence of insurrection and finally found something in Hollywood, of all places.
These were the graves of dead Confederates exiled from formerly Confederate states from Virginia to Texas who repaired to the balm of mild and gentle California to live out their final days, only to die forgotten in an alien land. The searchers found a plaque, overgrown with moss and soil, identifying those who sleep there. The plaque, though not a trophy as valuable as statuary of Lee or Jackson, was nevertheless removed as a prize of combat with the dead. The Los Angeles Times reports that “the bodies will not be disinterred.” Well, not now, anyway. Maybe next week, when the remains can be properly flogged and assigned to the city dump.
Back among the living, you might think the Democrats would be in Hog Heaven, intoxicated with the prospect of slaying Donald Trump at last. Metaphorically speaking, of course. (We think.) But months of malaise — the French call it “ennui,” or lassitude for lack of excitement — have made havoc of Democratic fundraising.
Even with the prospect of a riveting candidate for 2020, someone like Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters, Bernie Sanders or even Hillary retrieved from the mothballs for a third try, Democratic fundraisers report that Democratic donors are exhausted. Throwing good money after bad, even in pursuit of Donald Trump, is not ringing bells and blowing whistles where big money dwells. The targets for next year’s congressional races look more inviting, but apparently only in Washington and other haunts of campaign consultants.
The raw numbers are enough to alarm Pollyanna and her friends. The Democratic National Committee raised $38 million in the first half of this year, and while that sounds like a lot, the Republicans raised almost twice that, with $75 million. At the end of June, the debt-free Republicans had $45 million in the bank; the Democrats have only $7 million in the bank and $3 million in debt. “We really should be kicking them in the [hindquarters],” a glum Democratic donor tells the Capitol Hill political daily The Hill.
If the Republicans are embarrassed by the stumbling Republicans in Congress and Donald Trump’s continuing struggle with foot-in-mouth disease, the Democrats can only mimic the misery of Casey Stengel as he managed the New York Mets through their inaugural year when they couldn’t win for losing, often by boxcar numbers: “Can’t anybody play this game?”
By the numbers on the money, apparently not, though the fundraising numbers don’t tell the whole story. Mitch McConnell can’t seem to find a way to keep his senators marching in cadence to the music, enabling John McCain, who dreams of becoming the pet Republican of the mainstream media again, and a couple of others from co-operating with the Democrats in recycling Harry Truman’s famous campaign label, “the do-nothing Congress,” and affixing it firmly to the party that once nominated Mr. McCain for president.
President Trump has become a Republican pinata, inviting everyone to take a whack. But he continues to draw crowds and money, both big money and small money. His approval ratings hover just below 40 percent, but it’s the most faithful 40 percent anywhere.
He collected $10 million for his re-election at a fund-raiser at his hotel in Washington this summer, and the Republican National Committee continues to outraise the Democrats among small-dollar donors — under $200 — and by a big margin.
The Democrats, with big help from not only the media but establishment Republicans who just can’t get over November, are counting now on backlash over Charlottesville to do what Robert Mueller was only yesterday counted on to do.
But killing dead Confederates won’t do it, either. Democrats tempted to fight a Lost Cause of their own should find romance somewhere else. Bernie Sanders or Pocahontas on a bronze horse won’t thrill anyone.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.