The 1997 film Wag the Dog starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNiro centered on a political spin doctor and a Hollywood producer who stage a fake war to distract voters from a presidential sex scandal. The plot was somewhat played out in real life as then-President Bill Clinton engaged in various foreign exploits to distract attention from his Oval office dalliance with an intern named Monica Lewinsky.
The term is a derivative of the old saying “the tail wagging the dog” which means something relatively minor is controlling something bigger. The American Left is once again deploying that tactic engaging in furious tail wagging over the riot on January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol Building.
At the outset let me say that political violence is never acceptable and the riot that occurred at the Capitol that winter day was indeed deplorable. But it was just that – a riot – not an insurrection which ascribes to the participants a greater degree of intelligence and ability than they actually possess.
President Joe Biden’s job approval ratings are in the tank and former President Donald Trump is leading the incumbent in both national and swing state polling. Democrats are stuck with a candidate who is obviously rapidly declining in mental acuity and are desperately casting about for a way to deflect attention from a failed presidency.
And so it was that Biden was led onto a stage near Valley Forge to proclaim that the events of three years ago represent an existential threat Democracy and that the substantial block of voters who merely want policies that place the well-being of Americans first are somehow as reprehensible as the Capitol rioters.
The dog wagging continued. An attention-seeking gadfly most noted for sophomoric political stunts like placing an inflatable pink pig at the state Capitol filed a lawsuit aimed at keeping mid-state congressman Scott Perry off this year’s ballot. The suit continues the narrative being used to try and block former President Donald Trump from state ballots by invoking the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution barring candidates from holding federal office if they had been involved in an insurrection against the government of the United States.
The problem with challenges to both Trump and Perry is that neither has been charged let alone convicted of insurrection. The Left may view concerns over the validity of the 2020 election as insurrectionist, but there is no legal or even logical basis for such a claim. Election results – including those of past presidential elections – have been subjected to post-election challenges and reviews throughout history.
Apparently even attending a political rally is cause enough for dog wagging. Art Heyward, an seldom seen Pennsylvania state senator from Philadelphia grabbed media attention for demanding an ethics investigation into fellow state Senator Doug Mastriano. The reason? Mastriano was in Washington on January 6th and attended a pro-Trump rally near the White House. He did not participate in the Capitol riot.
All of this tail wagging by the Left of course attracted considerable media attention with the goal of conferring fake legitimacy on the message. This accomplished the goal of diverting attention from the real concerns of the American electorate.
For months President Biden has attempted to place a positive spin on the term “Bidenomics.” The president would have us believe, that his economic policies have improved the lives of Americans. At the kitchen table, however, the reality of over 17% cumulative inflation during the past three years and declining spending power has hit hard.
An Ipsos Poll released last week found Biden’s job approval hitting a new low of 33% with 58% disapproving of his performance in office. That is lower than any number Donald Trump hit during his tenure in office. Worse, 72% of those polled agreed that “the economy is in bad shape, given higher, prices and interest rates.”
A December poll conducted for Fox News found 68% of all voters, including 47% of Democrats are dissatisfied with the direction of the country. On the economy, 78% percent of voters say it is in bad shape including 61% of Democrats and 85% of independents.
Add in global challenges including wars in Ukraine and the mid-East along with an unstable relationship with China and there is little for the Biden Administration to use effectively in a re-election campaign. As a result, the Left has obviously decided to deflect attention by ginning up a false narrative of democracy being at risk.
It is a gambit that is likely to fail, because as the famed political consultant James Carville once said: “It’s the economy, stupid.” At this point the Left has little choice but to continue wagging the dog in hopes that nobody pays attention to something other than the tail.
(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly American Radio Journal and American Radio Journal. His e-mail address is [email protected].)
Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.