Following this has been the most fun I’ve had as blogger. At least since the first Anthony Weiner scandal and the day Andrew Breitbart briefly commandeered his podium.
I don’t even know where to begin in trying to catch people up. Here, I guess:
Saikat Chakrabarti is AOC’s chief of staff, as you already know and everyone in Washington very well knows. And that’s not some random Democratic account telling him to shut his piehole. That’s the official House Democratic account. One of Pelosi’s own aides delivered that slap in the mouth to Chakrabarti last night, using the caucus’s imprimatur to do it — and her own deputy chief of staff retweeted it, it turns out. When asked why, he replied, “I RTed this in my personal capacity as a gay man who was bullied and beaten in high school.” Hoo boy.
But the Dem establishment wasn’t done with Chakrabarti yet. A “Democratic leadership source” knifed him yesterday in the pages of the New York Daily News as well:
“Justice Democrats in general are trust fund kids who are funding this with their parents’ money,” the source said, blasting the progressive group as “elitist” for criticizing black lawmakers from poor districts who take corporate donations. “It’s offensive for CBC members when these elites are looking down on them when they don’t have the financial ability to say, ‘I don’t want that money.’”
Asked for an example, the source pointed to Ocasio-Cortez chief of staff and Justice Democrats co-founder Saikat Chakrabarti, a millionaire Harvard graduate who worked on Wall Street before turning to left-wing politics.
Justice Democrats is the PAC that helped AOC to victory over Joe Crowley in last year’s primary and which is working on progressive primary challenges to Democrats in other blue districts next year, much to the annoyance of AOC’s colleagues in the House. Think of them as the Tea Party Patriots of socialism. They were following the attacks on Chakrabarti last night too:
It’s deeply concerning and almost unbelievable that @HouseDemocrats leadership is focused on cracking down on progressives pushing the party to more aggressively address the crisis at the border camps instead of holding Trump accountable.
Where are your priorities? https://t.co/TPyr4TJeE6
— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) July 13, 2019
They have a point. Didn’t Pelosi just warn her caucus to stop taking potshots at each other on Twitter? Then why is the official House Democratic account taking potshots at Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff on Twitter?
Eh, no matter. If the Justice Democrats wanted a piece of this action, Team Nancy was happy to give it to them:
NEW: on @justicedems plans to primary members, a senior Democratic source said: "
“No one is afraid of those nerds. They don't have the ability to primary anyone.”
— Brooke Singman (@BrookeSingman) July 12, 2019
They did okay against Crowley! Anyway, as this clusterfark played out last night and this morning in full view of America’s media and political junkies of all stripes, noncombatants began to be swept into the fray:
Why is @SpeakerPelosi giving priority to marginalizing @AOC @AyannaPressley @RashidaTlaib & @IlhanMN (the “squad”) over unleashing the House to perform its checking function with every tool in the kit? Consider retweeting if you share my growing puzzlement and anger.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) July 13, 2019
Has a House member’s staff ever publicly attacked a Speaker before? Even a Speaker of the opposing party? Doing this publicly with your name attached is new. Off the record & on background staff criticism has always been done. https://t.co/7f0fMh5Fup
— Lawrence O'Donnell (@Lawrence) July 12, 2019
Sides must be taken. But wait — we’re not done yet. The least publicized member of AOC’s “Squad,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley, chipped in with her own contribution to the discussion a few hours ago — the most hair-raising one yet, as it turned out:
Pressley seeming to hit back at the criticism from the CBC et al: “We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need any more black voices that don’t want to be a black voice.”
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) July 13, 2019
“Side with the Squad or you don’t really want to be black” just might be the healing message that finally brings peace to this war-torn party. It sure sounded from the quote above as though Pressley, who’s African-American, was suggesting that black Democrats in the House who took Pelosi’s side in this dispute were Uncle Toms, but Pressley insists otherwise. I did no such thing, she insisted afterwards — which makes her the second member of the Squad in about 48 hours to have seemingly very clearly impugned a colleague or colleagues in racial terms only to scramble away from her remarks once she was confronted about them. The Squad is overflowing with demagoguery but they don’t like it when too much attention is paid to that fact.
Where’s AOC in all this? you’re wondering. Good question. She hasn’t tweeted about any of the drama, surprisingly enough. Maybe she’s obeying Pelosi’s order to cease bickering with fellow Dems on Twitter, never mind that the House Democrats account is throwing punches at her chief of staff. Maybe she’s lying low because Chakrabarti’s loud mouth seems to be a major thorn in the sides of the Dem leadership, to the point where Ocasio-Cortez might want to placate them by not rushing to his aid.
Or maybe she’s fully prepared to weigh in but wants to be sworn in on camera first.
Things are touch-and-go as I write this at 2 p.m. ET. It’s quiet, but quiet like a barroom brawl that’s gone on for 20 minutes and everyone’s momentarily too tired and in too much pain to keep going. Maybe they’ll start straggling towards the door and call it a night. Or maybe someone will break the silence by running their mouth again, get punched in the face, and everyone will start throwing chairs anew. Stand by. Exit question: Did Boehner and the tea party ever have a squabble this ugly? Boehner at least made a pretense that he didn’t despise the fringier populists in his own caucus. Pelosi and her team can’t be bothered anymore.