Rebuke or CYA? Pelosi takes aim at Omar -- in speech to AIPAC

Take one part CYA, add two parts muscle-flexing, and add heat from media scrutiny. What you get is this shot across Ilhan Omar’s bow about her anti-Semitic comments from Nancy Pelosi in her speech at AIPAC this morning. Pelosi never mentions Omar by name, but then again, she didn’t need to do so (via Twitchy):

The CYA part comes after the pull quote from Thomas. Pelosi tried to sell the “all hate matters” resolution as a specific rebuke to Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks about dual loyalties, when the resolution was designed specifically to avoid a direct rebuke to Omar. (Omar voted for it while laughing on the House floor, recall.)

Pelosi, a regular at AIPAC’s conference, referenced the Omar controversy in her speech Tuesday, touting that the “the full House came together to condemn the anti-Semitic myth of dual loyalty and all forms of bigotry.”

“In our democratic societies, we should welcome legitimate debate at how best to honor our values and to advance our priorities without questioning loyalty or patriotism,” she said.

“I simply declare that to be anti-Semitic is to be anti-American,” she added to applause. “It has no place in our country.”

That attempt to spin the resolution didn’t seem to generate quite as much applause, but the AIPAC audience still appreciated the sentiment. Pelosi’s attempt to be oblique was overshadowed, however, by Benjamin Netanyahu, who appeared via video after having to return home early to Israel to deal with rocket attacks from Hamas. Netanyahu took specific and explicit aim at Omar, declaring that despite his first name that it’s “not about the Benjamins”:

“From this Benjamin: It’s not about the Benjamins,” Netanyahu said, responding to a tweet Omar wrote purporting that politicians’ support for Israel was linked to campaign contributions. …

“Those who seek to defame this great organization, AIPAC, those who seek to undermine American support for Israel, they must be confronted,” said Netanyahu. “Despite what they claim, they do not merely criticize the policies of the Israeli government. They do something else: They spew venom that has long been directed at the Jewish people. Again, the Jews are cast as a force for evil. Again, the Jews are charged with disloyalty. Again, the Jews are said to have too much influence, too much power, too much money.” …

Before Netanyahu spoke, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman also invoked Omar, telling the crowd it would always do what is needed to defend Israel. “And let’s be clear,” he added, “we will not do this for the Benjamins.”

Pelosi wasn’t even as strong as her #2 had been two days earlier. Steny Hoyer dismissed Omar (without naming her) by reminding the AIPAC audience that Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib were just three of the “62 freshman Democrats,” although he later clarified that he was criticizing the media rather than the trio. On Omar’s dual-loyalty remarks, though, Hoyer added — come at me, bro:

While Pelosi referenced the controversy, her speech to Tuesday morning’s general session was less fiery than her deputy’s, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), two days prior.

“So when someone accuses American supporters of Israel of dual loyalty, I say: Accuse me,” Hoyer said Sunday.

That’s all well and good, but if so, why didn’t House Democrats make that the issue with their resolution? Why did they circle the wagons around Omar rather than dealing with the insult to Hoyer and Pelosi, let alone all the other supporters of Israel? It’s pretty thin gruel at this late date to express outrage after that CYA “all hate matters” resolution, even if both get some credit for sticking it to Omar from AIPAC. Maybe next time, they’ll demonstrate some of this courage where it really matters. And we all know there will be a next time with Omar.

Speaking of thin gruel, AIPAC had this lighter moment from Pelosi while she discussed the very real threat presented by Hezbollah to Israel from both Lebanon and Syria. Or “cereal,” as Pelosi mistakenly says, to Benny Johnson’s delight. It’s an easy slip to make, so just enjoy it in fun while remembering that it could happen to anyone. And have a chuckle as to which breakfast cereal would pose the biggest threat to Israel. For my money, it’s Trix — there are a lot of them conducted around Israel’s borders — while their favorite might be Cheerios. (Let’s see how many people get that one.)