Axios to Rashida Tlaib: Did you seriously propose a bill to empty all federal prisons?

I say this not to be mean, in the spirit of gratuitous partisan nastiness. I say it because it’s true: She’s the dumbest member of Congress.

After all, this isn’t the first time she’s struggled to defend her policy positions from the most elementary objections by reporters.

The BREATHE Act that Jonathan Swan quizzes her on is so far out there that it didn’t draw the support of the full Squad when it was proposed last summer, amid the national demonstrations over George Floyd’s death. Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley sponsored it; AOC and Ilhan Omar passed. Which tells us who the smartest members of the Squad are, I guess. Watch, then read on.

Is Swan’s characterization fair? Would the BREATHE Act really shut down federal prisons (over 10 years)? Sure looks that way:

Even human traffickers, Swan asks her? Well, no, maybe not them, says Tlaib.

Did she read her own bill?

The best one can do to spin this legislation to make it slightly more innocuous is to say that it’s a messaging bill, not something she expects would ever pass. It’s just a place for her and Pressley to plant their ideological flag. This is the direction they believe their party should be moving in, towards rehabilitation for some offenders rather than incarceration.

The problem with “it’s a messaging bill” is that the Squad’s agenda is a more potent message for the GOP than it is for their own party. Tlaib’s bill is the sort of thing you hang around the necks of centrist Dems like Elissa Slotkin in swing districts, not around Tlaib’s neck in her indigo blue home district. “Give Democrats a majority by sending Elissa Slotkin back to Congress and this is what they’ll pass next!”

Case in point:

Tlaib’s not dumb about her own electoral niche, though. As one of the furthest left members of Congress, she taps into the same national progressive small-donor machine that powered Bernie Sanders through two presidential runs. In 2018, she pulled an upset in the Democratic primary in her district by pulling a narrow plurality of the vote to defeat Brenda Jones, the head of Detroit’s City Council. “Tlaib won thanks to her strong fundraising, which helped her air broadcast TV ads when no other candidates did,” FiveThirtyEight noted in a piece about the Squad today. Jones challenged Tlaib again in 2020 and seemed formidable as a well-known African-American politician running in a majority African-American district. But it was no contest: Tlaib raised $4 million, well above the $2.6 million average of Democratic House members, and crushed Jones by a two-to-one margin. Jones raised a little less than $300,000 by comparison.

You can’t beat the Squad in D+30 districts, especially when they’re raking in mega-bucks from hundreds of thousands of wokesters scattered across the U.S. map. You can, however, use their insanity to bludgeon purple-district Dems into oblivion, ensuring Republican majorities in the House. There’ll be many more messaging bills in Tlaib’s future as a member of a prolonged Democratic House minority.