ARLINGTON, Va. -- White House senior adviser Karl Rove must have sent counterintelligence agents to infiltrate and sow confusion in the Democratic Party.
How else to explain the dysfunctional behavior of so many Democrats in recent days?
Bill Clinton must be spinning in his bed.
The public has watched a reprise of what former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick referred to more than 20 years ago as "those San Francisco Democrats." The farthest left wing of the party has reached up from the grave, like a character in a Stephen King novel, grabbing Democrats by the ankles and placing them in danger of political death.
We have seen Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington and David Bonior of Michigan -- the Bozos of Baghdad -- accuse President Bush of lying for political gain about Iraq's threat to civilization. This comes from representatives of a party that defended through impeachment the biggest liar in presidential history.
People with long memories will recall that during the Reagan administration, Mr. Bonior was a staunch foe of aid to the Nicaraguan contras, who were trying to overthrow the Communist Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega.
Mr. Bonior, who warns of "another Vietnam" should the United States attempt to topple Saddam Hussein, used the same analogy against Mr. Reagan's support of the freedom fighters. Mr. Bonior said continued U.S. aid to the contras would "prolong the war." It was Mr. Bonior who joined with several other liberal Democratic House members in giving public relations tips to the Sandinista government on how to subvert Mr. Reagan's foreign policy agenda in Central America.
Then, we witnessed Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri play Barbra Streisand's pool boy as he gushed about receiving a fax (full of misspellings, which may be a commentary on our education system) from this self-appointed policy expert and conscience of the party. Mr. Gephardt (spelled "Gebhardt" in the fax) dutifully beat it out to La-La-Land where he listened to Her Babsness redo song lyrics about how wonderful it would be if Democrats again controlled the House. The $6 million raised apparently covered a lot of what ought to have been embarrassment. Democratic people who need such people as Ms. Streisand are the unluckiest people in the world.
Finally (but maybe not, as we still have a month to go before Election Day), Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey announced he would not seek re-election for the supposedly noble reason of wishing to preserve Democratic control of the Senate, but actually because his greed and graft caught up with him.
Among the names Mr. Torricelli dropped was that of former liar-in-chief Bill Clinton, whom he said he admired because of Mr. Clinton's tenacity in holding on to the White House amid numerous scandals. Is this the ethical standard Democrats wish to defend? Mr. Torricelli quoted from Teddy Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena," which Richard Nixon also used in an Aug. 8, 1974, address announcing his resignation from the presidency. It was a demonstration that crookedness can be bipartisan.
Democrats have tried everything to shift the nation's attention from the war on terrorism to domestic issues where their demagoguery works best. Then they were reduced to the slimy task of trying to preserve their tenuous control of the Senate by asking the courts to overlook a New Jersey law that forbids replacement of Mr. Torricelli on the ballot this close to the election.
Even people with short memories will recall a similar tactic by Democrats in Florida two years ago. Lawyers for Al Gore asked several courts to ignore Florida election law and keep counting votes past deadlines until enough could be found for their client to win. They demonized Secretary of State Katherine Harris for having the guts to uphold the law. In the view of Democrats, the law should never prevent their party from its "entitlement" to run the government.
The best strategy for Republicans now is to highlight Democrats' smarmy lust for power and their undermining of President Bush's efforts to fight terrorism.
Those longing for the days when Democrats were mostly known for asking what they could do for their country, rather than what their country could do for them, can hope this election cycle will see the last of the liberal "San Francisco Democrats."
Cal Thomas' syndicated column appears Wednesdays in The Sun. He can be reached via e-mail at www.calthomas.com.