Looks like the Battle of Wokeback Mountain is still simmering in Nancy Pelosi’s caucus. In unrelated news, popcorn futures ticked up this morning:
But for all of those offenses, Chakrabarti’s attacks on Pelosi and the Blue Dogs are something else entirely, and they add up to the other thing a Capitol Hill aide should never do — damage the boss’s reputation and detract from his or her goals.
It’s hard to believe that AOC wanted the last two weeks to go as they have — with open warfare with the speaker and an intraparty fight so explosive that President Donald Trump jumped right into the middle of it by telling her and the rest of “the squad” to “go back where they came from.” Had she wanted to do that or go up against the Blue Dogs, she could have done it herself.
But the congresswoman also didn’t stop Chakrabarti from continuing his Twitter battles with her fellow Democrats or promoting primary challenges to them. That, along with frequent press mentions that it was Chakrabarti who recruited AOC and not the other way around, has led her colleagues to ask openly who is calling the shots in her office.
Thank goodness that Citizen Jane Politics founder Patricia Murphy raised this concern at Roll Call. Imagine the outrage if Republicans or a male conservative columnist (ahem) had alleged that Saikat Chakrabarti controlled rising progressive star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Instead, this concern comes from Ocasio-Cortez’ own House Democratic colleagues, Murphy writes, who see Chakrabarti as out of control and AOC unable or unwilling to do anything about it.
The fact that House Democrats are still making this an issue is a message to Ocasio-Cortez: Get rid of Chakrabarti. It’s tough to imagine a more insulting way of framing it for a young feminist to suggest that she’s nothing more than a puppet. It’s a dare designed to elicit a response, which in this case is to fire Chakrabarti and to get back to business rather than civil war.
What if Chakrabarti’s not the problem? Far be it from this (honorary!) member of Teh Patriarchy to suggest this, but this may be all Ocasio-Cortez’ plan. She wouldn’t be the first burn-it-all-down extremist elected to Congress, although she might be the first prominent female in that role. No one’s accusing Justin Amash of being controlled by his chief of staff, for instance, and no one accused Ron Paul of it either. Chakrabarti might well be following Ocasio-Cortez’ orders, not the other way around, which is why he’s still her CoS.
If that’s the case, Pelosi has other options. AOC just drew a Republican challenger, but in a D+29 district, the GOP could run the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln and lose by 15 points. The Republican nominee only got 14% of the vote in 2016, so even doubling that would give Ocasio-Cortez more than 60% of the overall vote. No, the only way to show AOC the door is to have a Democrat primary her next year. They’ve been talking about it almost since the moment Ocasio-Cortez arrived, and the latest warfare almost certainly has Pelosi and her team working overtime to make it happen.
Murphy has another suggestion to solve the alleged Svengali Staffer Syndrome:
The easiest and most immediate solution to the problem is to get Chakrabarti and all Capitol Hill staffers off Twitter. The social media platform has taken staffers from being seen-but-not-heard to being heard-but-not-seen. Not only does that development serve no one but the staffers, Twitter by its very nature incentivizes outrageous comments and the people who make them. A recent Pew study also found that the most active users are far more wealthy, more white and more liberal than the country itself. It’s no place for the rational political dialogue that legislating requires.
Uh, sure. How would House Democrats enforce that? At the moment, they’re fighting amongst themselves to keep members from calling other Dems racist. Good luck passing a “No Twitter” rule, Madame Speaker. That’s not to say Murphy’s wrong about social media being part of the problem, but if House Democrats had that much internal discipline, this issue wouldn’t have come up in the first place.
Besides, this fight has been all too predictable and a long time coming. Radical progressives want to hollow out the Democratic Party and have Democratic socialists take it over completely. They’re using identity politics against the Democratic establishment in the same way that the Democratic establishment used identity politics against Republicans — as a club to chase them out of the public square by any means necessary. A Twitter ban won’t stop Democrats from reaping what they have sown.
Now … where did my popcorn go?