Oh yes — it’s on, and both sides are playing for keeps. Nancy Pelosi scolded her caucus on disunity this week, and the frosh “Squad” didn’t like it one bit. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all but called Pelosi a bigot, accusing her of attempting to silence “women of color.”
In unrelated news, the American popcorn industry has doubled its projections for the next seventeen months:
But “the Squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) — is convinced it is Pelosi who is being the bully.
The four are struggling with the speaker’s moves to isolate them in recent weeks, according to interviews with the lawmakers, congressional aides and allies. Pelosi has made at least half a dozen remarks dismissing the group or their far-left proposals on the environment and health care. More recently she scorned their lonely opposition to the party’s emergency border bill last month.
And she defended those comments Wednesday, saying, “I have no regrets about anything. Regrets is not what I do,” doubling down on her claim that the group has little power in the House.
“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood,” Ocasio-Cortez told The Washington Post. “But the persistent singling out . . . it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”
“Singling out”? It would take a crowbar and a leg irons to separate Ocasio-Cortez from the media. Not only does she actively seek out opportunities to take her caucus leadership to task, Ocasio-Cortez spends even more time showcasing her ignorance on Instagram videos on the rare occasions that media-outlet cameras aren’t handy. Has there ever been a frosh House Democrat that has gotten more media mileage than AOC, ever?
Ocasio-Cortez tried to eat her cake and have it again when challenged on this:
…knowing the amount of death threats we get, knowing the amount of concentration of attention, I think it’s worth asking why.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 11, 2019
I asked AOC if she thinks Pelosi has racial animus or is racist, and she said: “No, no, absolutely not, absolutely not.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 11, 2019
Give Ocasio-Cortez credit, I guess, for achieving her usual level of coherence. “It’s worth asking why” Pelosi has “a pattern” of “singling out four individuals” who are “women of color,” but oh golly I’m not saying she’s a racist. Even though that’s, er … just about the textbook definition of racism.
It’s enough to generate some (mild) sympathy for Pelosi, and that’s not easy. Ocasio-Cortez wants to eat her cake and have it too. She can feel free to criticize leadership publicly, but when Pelosi responds, it’s “singling out” on the basis of being a “woman of color.” However, it’s only good for mild sympathy, as this is the same kind of nonsense that Democrats have poured onto Republicans for years. The chickens are coming home to roost.
Aaron Blake write that “it’s starting to get ugly.” Well, yeah:
Pelosi has occasionally rebuked this contingent when she felt it to be stepping too far outside the political mainstream and/or doing things that could hurt the party. But her comments dismissing it have become increasingly frequent and increasingly pitched. She seems to either have become so frustrated that she’s no longer holding back, or she feels like things have gone too far and now is the time to settle this, before it gets out of hand.
And if you’re Pelosi, you waited eight long years to win back the speakership. You know you need a Democratic president elected in 2020 to have a shot at passing a Democratic agenda before you’re set to retire after the 2022 election. You also need to preserve a House majority that is unquestionably “fragile.”
It’s become abundantly clear that she views the current battle as one she needs to have — and early signs suggest House Democrats are generally siding with her. But if members like Ocasio-Cortez start bringing racial politics into this, and the liberals start bucking even harder as it seems they are inclined to, the battle won’t be fun for any of the Democrats involved.
Circular firing squads usually aren’t much fun, that’s true. They usually take a less pernicious form than accusing each other of being racists and sexists, but here Democrats are after having made identity politics the basis of all political debates. This goes beyond the electoral issues that Blake lays out pretty well toward the end of his analysis, too. It’s not just that focusing on racial politics will alienate moderates in House districts where Pelosi picked up seats, although that is a problem, too. It’s that Democrats have wielded the PC mallet with some effect for years on the basis of their supposed superiority on tolerance and diversity. If they start to shred each other as racists and chauvinists, it will fatally dilute that argument by exposing it as nothing more than the baseless name-calling that it’s been for a very long time.
And that’s not a bad reason to pass the popcorn and cheer this internecine warfare on. Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw made sure to drive the point home, in case anyone hadn’t already grasped it.
Madam Speaker, welcome to the true nature of identity politics – where you’re accused of being racist for no reason at all, and where intellectually lazy insults are used against you as a way to replace substantive debate of your argument or idea. https://t.co/3z6PyPQoR1
— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (@RepDanCrenshaw) July 11, 2019
Update: Aaaand just as this post was about to publish, the House Democrats’ centrist Blue Dog Coalition nukes AOC in a mass e-mail to the entire caucus:
including two black men who actually experienced the segregated South.” 2/2
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) July 11, 2019
Don’t just pass the popcorn — start buying stock in it.