Attacks on Toomey reveal Dems unconcerned about ‘Democratic norms’

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President Donald J. Trump, joined by Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., disembarks Air Force One Thursday, March 5, 2020, at Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport in Avoca, Pennsylvania. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., disembarks Air Force One Thursday, March 5, 2020, at Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport in Avoca, Pennsylvania. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Public Affairs>.]

By Todd Carney
Real Clear Public Affairs

Many are questioning Democrats’ credibility over their purported concerns about democratic norms. For example, they have backed far-right Republicans in primaries in the hope that GOP voters will nominate unelectable candidates who will go down to defeat.

And over the last few weeks, Democrats have used vitriolic terms to describe Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Liberals’ attacks have invoked profanity to paint Toomey as a morally corrupt sociopath. Toomey voted to convict Donald Trump in his 2021 impeachment trial. The bad-faith attacks on Toomey constitute yet another data point that many Democrats do not really care about democratic norms – they just want to win and to implement their agenda at all costs.

Toomey first came into the national spotlight as a disrupter like Trump, as the leader of the conservative anti-establishment group Club for Growth. Toomey also challenged a liberal incumbent, Republican Senator Arlen Specter, twice in the primaries. Toomey’s second primary challenge caused Specter to switch parties and ultimately resulted in Toomey winning the overall Senate race. As a senator, Toomey has been pretty conservative but not a disrupter. He even pursued a bipartisan approach on guns by working with West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin.

Despite Toomey’s slow move to the center, many considered his vote to convict Trump surprising because he had not bucked Trump or the party leadership frequently. To go from being a rebel to someone who would vote to convict a president loved by the Republican base is pretty remarkable.

While Toomey holds many positions that liberals disagree with, Democratic attacks on him have centered around his views on the PACT Act, a bill for further assistance to veterans. Republicans largely supported PACT previously when it was a standalone bill, but when Democrats loaded it up with other spending not related to veterans, Republicans opposed it. Toomey tried to offer an amendment to make the veterans spending discretionary, instead of mandatory, to prevent this kind of scenario in the future.

Democrats opposed Toomey’s amendment, claiming that it might make it harder to add further tangential items to assist with healthcare. Some felt that Democrats just wanted to score political points by claiming Republicans opposed funding for veterans’ care, and that they wanted to use popular legislation like a veterans’ care bill to pass other items that could not pass on their own.

Whatever Democrats’ reasons for opposing Toomey’s amendment, passions do run high in politics, especially concerning veterans’ issues. But the left’s criticism of Toomey has transcended policy to call into question his integrity and ethics.

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, the Democrat nominee running to replace Toomey, who is retiring, said that Toomey was engaging in “disgusting sh*t” and called for Toomey to get the “h*ll out of DC.” Comedian and liberal activist Jon Stewart has referred to Toomey as a “monster” and claimed the senator is “f*cking around.” Media host Jimmy Kimmel called Toomey “a f*cking coward.” Guy Cecil, chair of one of the Democrats’ biggest Super PACs, approvingly retweeted a clip where Stewart went on a profanity-laced rant against Toomey and other Republicans. Former Pennsylvania Democrat Senate candidate Malcolm Kenyatta has said that Toomey cannot feel shame and that Toomey has always been a fake.

Strong arguments can be made for why Toomey was wrong on impeachment, the PACT Act, and other issues. But the demonization and profanity that liberals are using to attack Toomey go far beyond policy disagreement – they represent the same radical, divisive attacks that liberals have used against Trump and his supporters. Liberals have tried to excuse these attacks against Trump by saying that Trump is a unique threat to the country. Their attacks against Toomey and other Republicans suggest otherwise, making clear that they will engage in these bad-faith tactics against anyone who opposes them on any single issue.

Now that kind of approach is truly a threat to America’s democratic norms.

Todd Carney is a lawyer and frequent contributor to RealClearPolitics. He earned his juris doctorate from Harvard Law School. The views in this piece are his alone and do not reflect the views of his employer.

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Public Affairs>.]

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