From left: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib at a House Oversight Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, July 15, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)
Since fighting Trump hasn’t gotten them very far, they’re now fighting one another.
Among Democrats these days, it’s a Hobbesian war of all against all. No, that’s not quite right. It’s more of a Seinfeldian war of imagined slights and peevish insults, a slap-fight of grievance and innuendo, a “you-started-it-no-you-started it” toddlers’ rodeo. It’s Mad Max beyond Blunderdome.
To recap, just in the last few days, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested that Nancy Pelosi was being a racist and, when called on it, said she wasn’t saying that. AOC’s brain, Saikat Chakrabarti, compared the gay Kansas congresswoman Sharice Davids, also a Democrat, to segregationist Southern Democrats of yore because her votes supposedly “are showing her to enable a racist system.” The official Twitter account of the House Democrats threw the racism charge right back in Chakrabarti’s face, saying he was “explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color.”
Accusations of racism are a kind of brainless addiction on the Left, like slot machines. Whenever they feel unsatisfied with anything, they break their minds into quarters, put them in the slots, yank the arm down, and repeat. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, heretofore the most unassuming member of the “squad” of young House firebrands that also includes AOC, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, made an undergraduate-level authenticity argument against Democratic-party minorities, such as members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who fail to vote with the extreme Left:
We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need any more black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice. We don’t need any more Muslim faces that don’t want to be a Muslim voice.
It was like one Oberlin minority accusing another of being a “coconut” or an “Oreo.”
A Democratic leadership source made a class-based argument against the Squad in the course of defending the Congressional Black Caucus: “Justice Democrats in general are trust-fund kids who are funding this with their parents’ money,” the source said. Just to add a little lighter fluid to the bonfire, Chakrabarti casually admitted that the Green New Deal — the one that generated zero Democratic support on the floor of the Senate — used climate-change hysteria as a pretext for undoing capitalism: “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” he said in a Washington Post profile. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” Because what a single congresswoman from New York City can certainly do is change the entire economy.
As if worried that none of this provided enough visual pizzazz to be an actual RNC campaign ad, protesters acting out the Squad mindset at an ICE building in Aurora, Colo., took down a U.S. flag and replaced it with a Mexican one. Which doesn’t even make sense; if you actually thought that Mexico was better than the U.S., wouldn’t you want to be deported there? If you thought the U.S. was much like Mexico, would you have come here in the first place?
Nancy Pelosi’s dismissive remarks to the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd started all this. About the Squad she sounded a note of condescension, like a school matron who is aware — but doesn’t much care — that the girls are talking smack about her while vaping behind the bleachers after soccer practice. “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.” Ouch! Pelosi, at 79, is not even young enough to know what middle-aged people have learned: Handle Millennials in the workplace the way you’d handle spent radioactive fuel rods, lest they spatter you with toxic hurt feelings.
As Dowd pointed out the other day, there’s a desperate struggle up on top of Wokeback Mountain, and people are getting a little punchy in the thin air. Matthew Continetti astutely notes that what is going on with the House Democrats is a mirror image of what happened with the Tea Party–inspired House Freedom Caucus as they grew impatient with John Boehner. Each group took its frustrations out on the head of its own party instead of acknowledging that you don’t get to run the country with one house of one branch of the federal government. But there is a big difference this time. This time it’s racial. There is no coming back from an accusation of racism. Short of abject apologies from AOC and Co., which seem as unlikely to be issued as presidential apologies, Pelosi and other legacy Dems are never going to forget that they’ve been tagged with the wickedest concept in the Left’s attack manual. Every Democrat mentioned above is either a minority or a woman or both. To the average reasonable voter, any charge that members of the Congressional Black Caucus are insufficiently black, or the implication that Pelosi opposes AOC because of skin tone rather than tactics, is deeply stupid. These fatuous accusations of racism have the effect of further diluting the power of a word that might well be the most overused one in America, or perhaps second only to “literally.”
All of this is plenty entertaining, if you enjoy a comedy bloodbath. The Democratic party is sitting on a cache of gold, which is President Trump’s low poll numbers. Instead of working together to make the most of it, though, they’re reenacting the circular-shootout ending of a Quentin Tarantino film: Meet the Reservoir Dems.