Good, good! Let the hate flow through you.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland hit back at some of the most visible new Democrats in Congress when asked Monday by Fox News about the push to impeach President Trump: “We’ve got 62 new (Democratic) members. Not three.”
Hoyer apparently was referring to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who regularly have fought the Trump administration’s policies since entering Congress.
“I happen to disagree with that take,” said AOC yesterday of Pelosi coming out against impeaching Trump, but I’m unaware of Tlaib and Omar making news by chiming in on the subject. Sounds like maybe Hoyer, a moderate Dem, has had his fill already of the “Squad” and was using the bickering yesterday over impeachment as an opportunity to remind everyone that protecting the caucus’s purple-district freshmen is a higher priority than giving the media’s three faves more publicity.
If so, he’s not alone in that opinion:
USA TODAY talked to more than a dozen Democratic members, aides and strategists across the political spectrum and found there is broad agreement on the need to expand background checks for gun owners, protect immigrants and combat climate change. But some moderates say that the approach Ocasio-Cortez has taken on these topics has been unrealistic and it has left little room for the bipartisan compromise they promised voters during midterm campaigns.
They are also irritated at Ocasio-Cortez’s willingness to use her personal platform – nearly 3.5 million followers on Twitter and a nationwide following – to go after members of her own party. Even House progressives who like her policies don’t know what to make of her approach.
Eh. It’s fun to imagine swing voters’ disdain for the “Squad” turning them against Democratic centrists, I’m just not sure how that logic works. Freshmen Dems from battleground districts will distance themselves from radicalism as they deem appropriate; Ocasio-Cortez’s policies are something they can point to as proof of their own comparative moderation. Most progressive voters aren’t so dumb that they’ll support primary challenges in swing districts due to the incumbent’s disloyalty to socialism. (Although a few ill-advised primaries will surely happen, just as Delaware Republicans in the grip of tea-party fever supported Christine O’Donnell over centrist Mike Castle in 2010.) Besides, Democrats will be defined for good or ill by their presidential nominee next year. If the nominee’s a centrist, swing-district Dems will point to him/her as the exemplar of what the party is, not Ocasio-Cortez. If the nominee’s hard-left then the swing-district Dems will spend most of their time grappling with the nominee’s preferred policies, not AOC’s — although of course the two may overlap substantially. Whether it’s Biden or Bernie, the nominee will embody what the party stands for, not the “Squad.”
What’s bugging Hoyer and the other anonymous backbiters, I think, is just fatigue at their nonsense. If it’s not Omar farting out her thoughts about Israel supporters, it’s Ocasio-Cortez grumbling about capitalism being irredeemable or Tlaib calling members of her own caucus Islamophobic. To a man or woman, the rest of the caucus must be thinking, “F***ing enough already.” And it’s not just soundbites and press quotes, of course. It’s Twitter-sniping all day long, usually at the right but not always.
But as I say, it all works out. The enmity of their centrist colleagues will only further endear the “Squad” to progressives while the “Squad’s” excesses set up an easy contrast for centrist Dems in their home districts. Look at it this way: Despite the endless infighting between establishmentarians and tea partiers, the GOP managed to hold the House for nearly a decade, even enduring Obama’s successful reelection in 2012. It was Trump’s rise and the almost inevitable backlash to an incumbent president in his first midterm that finally knocked them out. If the fractious Republican coalition could endure for a few cycles, the fractious Democratic one should be okay for awhile too. Even though there was no one in the tea-party era with a following quite like Ocasio-Cortez’s.
Exit question via Charles Cooke: What exactly prompted Pelosi’s out-of-the-blue declaration against impeachment yesterday? Does she know something about the Mueller report that the rest of us mere mortals don’t yet?