Ilhan Omar is a weapon for Republicans and a headache for Democrats

The episode demonstrated a new reality for Washington: In a few months, Omar has displaced Nancy Pelosi as the Republicans’ favorite liberal boogeyman, a new face the GOP can weaponize in an attempt to depict the entire Democratic party as extreme and out-of-touch.

This puts Democrats in a difficult position: either defend their colleague against Republican attacks or to keep at arm’s length a controversial member who engages in over-the-top rhetoric many Democrats consider problematic or even bigoted. For her part, Omar seems to be at once surprised at becoming a polarizing figure while also embracing the role…

Efforts by House leaders such as Pelosi to curb Omar’s taste for the polemic have only worked to temporarily tame her Twitter feed. A House resolution in March denouncing anti-Semitism spearheaded by pro-Israel Democrats received pushback from progressive allies of Omar. Why, they asked, was their colleague being singled out when Republicans like Iowa Rep. Steve King and even the President had said worse things about immigrants?