Left-wing House Dems to Pelosi: Why is Ilhan Omar being singled out for condemnation for hateful rhetoric?

A follow-up to Ed’s post earlier about this morning’s raucous caucus meeting. This is so enjoyable that I want to grind it up and snort it.

The Corbynization of this trash party is coming along nicely. By the time this is over, Pelosi and Hoyer will end up apologizing to Omar.

Many of those speaking out Wednesday were members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who bristled at the notion that Omar (Minn.) would be targeted for a rebuke — even an indirect one, as Democratic leaders had planned — while lawmakers remain silent about Republican behavior, especially that of Trump.

“I think there’s a big rise in anti-Semitism and racism, and that’s a bigger conversation we need to be having.” said Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.). “But it starts at 1600 Pennsylvania. It doesn’t start with one member out of 435 members of Congress.”…

“We need to have equity in our outrage,” said Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), who after the meeting said she was focused on “the occupant of this White House who is seeding every form of hate, emboldening it with racist rhetoric and policies. That is who we all need to be focused on, and this is a distraction.”

Both the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus are expected to meet later Wednesday and could take a position opposing any resolution responding to Omar’s remarks.

Can’t say for sure without a full transcript but it sounds like the defenses of Omar at the meeting were pure whataboutism. There are no accounts of anyone trying to spin what she said about Israel supporters pledging allegiance to a foreign country as having been more innocuous than it first appeared. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s lengthy defense of Omar on Twitter yesterday also went that route: The closest she came to addressing the dual-loyalty smear was to say, “It’s not my position to tell people how to feel, or that their hurt is invalid,” which is an artful way of saying “Sorry if you were offended.” She’s not disputing that Omar meant what she said but she’s also pointedly not acknowledging that she was wrong to have said it. If you support Israel and you don’t like being accused of dual loyalty, especially if you’re Jewish: Maybe you’re right to be offended, or maybe not. It’s not her place to say.

As for why Democrats are, or were, moving to condemn Omar with a resolution, it’s the same reason why Democratic senators scrambled to push Al Franken towards the exit after his #MeToo problem surfaced two years ago. They want their hands as clean as they can get them when denouncing Trump and the GOP for their own bigotry, indifference to sexual assault, etc. Richmond and the CBC are taking the same approach here as Franken’s defenders have taken in denouncing Kirsten Gillibrand for leading the charge against him: They don’t want to be better than the opposition, as that would amount to “unilateral disarmament” in a political war. Rather, they want to hold themselves to a standard no higher than the opposition does in order to ensure a “fair fight,” which is characteristic of this era. The saga over Trump’s emergency declaration is teeming with that reasoning. Obama used dubious executive authority on immigration with DACA, didn’t he? Well, then, we get to do it with the wall. To which Democrats reply: Oh, so Trump’s going to abuse his constitutional authority by grabbing power from Congress? In that case we’ll be sure to do the same by declaring emergencies on climate change and guns. Two garbage parties, racing to the bottom.

Speaking of which, if we’re about to have a big National Dialogue about which party is more anti-semitic, we should probably throw this into the mix as well:

As critical as I am, I’m actually giving Omar’s defenders the benefit of the doubt in assuming that their umbrage at Pelosi’s resolution is based in fear of “unilateral disarmament.” The alternative is scarier, that they either agree with Omar on the merits or see enough support for her views among their own constituents that they feel obliged to try to defeat a resolution aimed at her. This may not be mere whining about having to police one of their own when the bad guys on the other team never seem to do so. This may be an attempt to create political space in the mainstream of American politics for Omar’s views about Israel and its supporters, with whataboutism merely the tool chosen to carve that space. Note that the chairwomen of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus have apparently gone on record as saying they won’t support any Dem resolution that singles out Omar specifically for criticism, even though some Jewish Democrats have requested that. Whether that’s due to fear of “unilateral disarmament,” tribalism of various sorts, or an impulse to move the Overton window towards Omar’s views on Israel is unclear. For now.