Maybe the Battle of Wokeback Mountain hasn’t been entirely extinguished yet. According to The Hill, House Democrats want to know why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez still employs Saikat Chakrabarti as her chief of staff after his public attacks on other House members. “Who’s in charge of that office?” one moderate House Dem told The Hill on background, and used the R-word explicitly:
“Do I think AOC’s chief of staff needs to be fired? Of course I do,” said a moderate Democratic lawmaker. “Who is in charge in that office? Is she unable to fire him for his racist comments?”
Another Democratic lawmaker added: “My chief would have the honor to resign” if he tweeted those things.
Another senior aide told The Hill that Chakrabarti’s survival after his attacks on elected representatives was “unheard of.” That aide wondered whether Chakrabarti was the actual brains behind Ocasio-Cortez and therefore making all the decisions for her:
The Democratic aide echoed the moderate lawmaker, suggesting that Chakrabarti has not been reprimanded by Ocasio-Cortez because he and his group, Justice Democrats, helped propel the former New York bartender to victory last year and he’s the one pulling the strings in her office.
“I have never seen a staffer insult multiple members multiple times and keep his job. It’s unheard of,” the aide added.
Yowza. Imagine, if you will, the blowback that would come if a Republican said that about a female elected official — that she was just a puppet for a man behind the scenes. The full weight of Woke Feminism Inc. would come crashing down on the GOP and every male Republican in Congress would be asked to condemn those remarks, even if the remark was made by an anonymous aide.
Not all House Dems are taking aim at AOC sotto voce. Her New York colleague Gregory Meeks went on the record to tell Ocasio-Cortez to do her job and fire Chakrabarti:
“That’s just a terrible statement to make. That’s a terrible statement to make,” Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), a Congressional Black Caucus member, said of Chakrabarti’s segregationists tweets. “Somebody’s got to be held accountable. If my staff did something that was not right, then I have to handle my staff.”
“The question is: Do you think it’s appropriate for your staff to say something like that?” added Meeks, who in recent days has threatened to back a primary challenger against Ocasio-Cortez.
So the Battle of Wokeback Mountain still rages, because this fight is inevitable, as I wrote in my column at The Week. Donald Trump might have momentarily derailed it, but the race card is the go-to attack for people on the Left. Turning it on themselves was inevitable once any significant power struggle began:
The Times itself had taken up that subject in a Maureen Dowd column published just before Trump’s tweets titled “Scaling Wokeback Mountain.” Dowd was no defender of Trump or beyond playing the r-word herself, calling him a “racist, backward president,” but cut to the heart of making that ad hominem the Democrats’ go-to accusation for critics.
“The progressives act as though anyone who dares disagree with them is bad,” Dowd wrote, citing Chakrabarti in particular. “Not wrong, but bad, guilty of some human failing, some impurity that is a moral evil that justifies their venom.” And far too often, that moral evil is expressed as racism, even when the supposed failing has little or nothing to do with race. “But once you start that ball rolling,” Dowd warned, “it’s hard to stop.”
Democrats may find that prophetic even after Trump’s intervention. Their civil war and the media’s interest in stoking it has stopped it for the moment, but it won’t end the risk for Democrats altogether. The purity campaign waged by progressives will require attacking the Democratic establishment in ways that will have effects on activists and voters in the districts they want to capture. The initial Battle of Wokeback Mountain may have been stalled, but the war is far from over — if Republicans can refrain from providing distractions.
The ball is still rolling on the Left. And it will likely pick up more momentum again after everyone gets their fill of attacking Trump this week, since the hard progressives still want to wrest control of the party away from the slightly-less-hard progressives led by Nancy Pelosi.