Damned if you pounce, damned if you don’t. Isn’t it funny how the story on a Democratic scandal always comes around to whatever it is Republicans are doing in the midst of it? Instapundit’s Ed Driscoll pointed out this aspect of Politico’s coverage of the Ilhan Omar crisis and suggesting that the outlet “has a sad” over a lack of official GOP attacks:
GOP leaders had been weighing whether to take their own action against Omar, who sparked an uproar for suggesting that pro-Israel activists and lawmakers hold “allegiance to a foreign country.” The freshman firebrand has emerged as a top target on the right in recent months.
But Republicans, who already successfully used procedural tools to rebuke Omar for using anti-Semitic tropes last month, are instead choosing to not respond right now, forcing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to pick from a difficult set of options.
“I would like to see what the Democrats are going to do,” Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday. “We’ve already led on this issue.”
“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake,” Driscoll writes. That’s pretty good advice, and for once Republicans are heeding it. Even Donald Trump has mostly kept quiet about it even while Democrats desperately try to drag him into the fray to let Omar off the hook. He’s only tweeted once about the scandal so far, noting on Monday that Jewish groups have petitioned Nancy Pelosi to get Omar removed from the House Foreign Relations Committee.
Needless to say, this lack of pouncing must be covered. Why won’t Republicans pounce? Actually, as McCarthy reminded reporters, he’s already “pounced” — on his own member, Steve King. When King made remarks boosting “white nationalism,” McCarthy rebuked him by stripping King of his committee assignments. “I just know that in our conference, when we have an issue, we actually removed people from committee,” said McCarthy.
Charles Lipson reminds RealClearPolitics readers of McCarthy’s precedent, and wonders why Pelosi can’t follow suit:
The Republicans have faced their own problems with offensive speech. When President Trump said there were “good people on both sides” at the white-nationalist rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville, Va., Republican leaders joined Democrats in naming and shaming him. When Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) had kind words for white nationalism, Republicans swiftly denounced him, named him in a condemnatory House resolution, and stripped him of all committee assignments. That’s exactly what they should have done. That’s exactly what Democrats should do here.
Of course, there are good reasons to condemn all types of hate speech, whether it is directed against Muslims, Catholics, Evangelicals, gays, lesbians, or other individuals and groups. But the issue arose now because of Omar’s derogatory comments about Jews. If Congress wants to say “all hate speech is bad,” then draft a separate resolution. Do not water down one that should specifically address Rep. Ilhan Omar and her hateful comments, which allege American Jews have dual loyalties and wield secretive, malign influence, thanks to their wealth.
If Pelosi cannot get her own caucus to support such straightforward language, let her number two, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) draft it and then permit a floor vote. We also need to hear from each Democratic presidential candidate. Do they support a strong resolution that specifically rejects Omar’s rhetoric?
It is a sad sign for America’s democracy that condemning anti-Semitism and its purveyors could divide a party and jeopardize its congressional leader. But that, alas, is the message Democrats send with their feckless silence over Ilhan Omar.
And that will remain the real story, no matter how many House Democrats want to make it about Donald Trump or media outlets want to make it about Republicans’ pouncing status. It’s about leadership standing up for its values … and Pelosi’s sad collapse on anti-Semitism is making Democratic values all too clear.