USA Today published a profile of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today which focused on her efforts to keep the far-left elements of her caucus from making life miserable for everyone else. Thought Pelosi didn’t mention her by name, she did allude to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as someone who has a lot of Twitter followers but not much in the way of actual votes:
“While there are people who have a large number of Twitter followers, what’s important is that we have large numbers of votes on the floor of the House,” Pelosi said. Ocasio-Cortez has almost 4 million followers on Twitter.
When USA TODAY asked how more liberal members responded when she told them they needed legislation that could pass, she responded, “They’re fine.”
“As I say to my own district, ‘You go out and elect 218 people, just like San Francisco, then we can talk,’ ” she said.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza argued this was not an incidental point. Pelosi is sending AOC a message:
In February, she was asked about the “Green New Deal,” a sweeping legislative proposal that Ocasio-Cortez has been closely aligned with that aims to address the challenges of climate change. “It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi said dismissively. “The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”
If you think Pelosi’s comments on AOC are accidental and not meant to send a very clear message to AOC, you don’t know much about Pelosi. What message is she sending? This one: Look, I have been a liberal’s liberal for longer than you’ve been on earth. But not everyone House Democrat represents districts like we do. And we need to understand that they are governed by a different set of political realities. The most important thing we do isn’t score ideological points. It’s pass legislation as a united caucus –to show all Americans we are doing the work, not just playing partisan games.
Over the weekend, former President Obama made a statement about progressives who have “a certain kind of rigidity” which leads to them attacking would-be allies and forming circular firing squads over questions of purity. Like Pelosi, he didn’t mention AOC by name but he might as well have. She’s the person in the Democratic Party most closely associated with those looking to target any Democrat who fails to sign on to her agenda.
Why are two of the most powerful Democrats in the country badmouthing AOC? Because she’s poison for a party that needs to be competitive in purple states to maintain power and win elections. But the thing about AOC is that she’s a true believer. She may hear the warnings from Pelosi and Obama but it’s not going to have an impact on her. Extremism is her brand and she’s going to ride that horse until it collapses. The only question is how much damage she’s going to do to her party in the process.