In a glorious display of speaking out of both sides of his mouth, one of the newer CNN personalities, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, appeared yesterday to respond to the Ilhan Omar controversy and resolution. It was a desperate bit of politicking in which the gubernatorial candidate attempted to sound stern while never being able to make a stern comment.
Gillum appeared on the New Day program to discuss the resolution that the Democrats brought forward to address Omar’s string of anti-Jewish remarks. This is a resolution that they continuously rewrote, watering it down, and then ultimately neutering it completely. In similar fashion, Gillum managed to reflect that exact inability of the Dems to take any kind of stand on the matter.
He was asked directly about Omar’s comments, and what he thought should happen to the Congresswoman. It explains everything that, after minutes of conversation, you have no idea where he stands, and this is due to his inability to come out and directly condemn her and her words. His vacillating began immediately.
“Obviously all of us reject anti-Semitism,” he began, making a comment that is not made if things are so obvious, before undermining himself almost instantly. Continuing, he claimed, “And she does as well, and said so in her own words.” Except, she has not rejected anti-Semitism — she has perpetuated it. That was the entire basis of calling for the resolution.
“What I really find really baffling is that is if this is anti-Semitic or not has really allowed up to cover over and paper over I think some other legitimate questions that appear to be raised.” So Gillum is essentially attempting to appear firm against this kind of hate speech, but then immediately tries to bypass it. The debate over the comments should not be the focus, because she asked some “legitimate questions.” Just amazing.
Then he was asked to address the specific comments Omar spoke of recently, calling support for Israel to be “all about the Benjamins,” and charging that people who support Israel are displaying a dual allegiance with the U.S. After detailing some of his personal bona fides with Israel. Gillum’s excusing of Omar’s words continued:
“I do believe that it is fair for us to engage in a real conversation and debate around special interests’ influence on U.S. foreign policy. I think it is appropriate for members of Congress to talk about foreign policy in the U.S. relationship with other countries. I think that is wholly appropriate.”
Appropriate, he says. Thus, if you use hate-filled anti-Semitic language it really is not all that bad of a practice, as long as you are raising “legitimate questions” which are then “wholly appropriate.” Gillum is putting voice here to the very inability of his party to take a stand on the matter of Omar being a recidivist anti-Semite. They just could not bring themselves to condemn her, and instead passed a resolution that was pure posturing.
Gillum only continued to flail. “The problem, however, is we’ve got to do a better job of not allowing the name calling to distract from what are important public policy debates.” No, the problem is that Democrats have pushed and promoted members like Omar since her arrival, and now that she has exposed herself as someone who cannot help saying hateful things on the record they are stuck. Condemn her officially and they admit to the mistake in embracing her — and risk appearing as Islamophobes — by their own standard.
Gillum is essentially trying to say that Omar needs to account for her words, but we need to look beyond them and address the legitimate questions she has posed. That actually erases the accountability, Mr. Gillum, which is what we saw the Democrats do with the repeated revisions to their resolution. By stripping away the direct call to address Omar’s words she has escaped accountability.
The problem this has now created for the Democrats is that is not at all how you conduct things; you do not bypass the hateful rhetoric because it possibly leads to what you might consider “appropriate” questions. No, you stop instantly at the hate speech, because that is in fact where those questions are rooted. Pelosi & Co. have applied that standard now.
This is the official position of the Democrats today — they want to say how they fully condemn anti-Semitic comments, and then instantly declare we should ignore such and move on to the truly important content of the statements. This means the problem will only continue for their party.