In a new Politico story about “The Democrats’ Dilemma,” highlighting the divide between moderate Democrats in Congress and radicals like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Omar describes Democrat party hero Barack Obama’s “hope and change” as a mirage and said that part of the reason Trump is more vilified than Obama is because Obama was more polished than Trump.
— Blake News (@blakehounshell) March 8, 2019
Omar sat down with Tim Alberta, Politico’s chief political correspondent, just before comments she made equating lawmakers’ support of Israel with “allegiance to a foreign country” came to light. She ran for office, she told Alberta, not because she was upset with Republicans, but because she was frustrated with her own party.
“As she saw it, the party ostensibly committed to progressive values had become complicit in perpetuating the status quo. Omar says the ‘hope and change’ offered by Barack Obama was a mirage. Recalling the ‘caging of kids’ at the U.S.-Mexico border and the ‘droning of countries around the world’ on Obama’s watch, she argues that the Democratic president operated within the same fundamentally broken framework as his Republican successor.
“We can’t be only upset with Trump. His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was.
“That’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”
She’s not wrong. Many on the right have pointed out that mainstream media outrage about “kids in cages” conveniently ignores that the same policies, sometimes even more unforgiving, were in place during the Obama administration. And, unfortunately, a pretty face and a smile has helped many a politician get away with… well, a lot.
Contrary to Nancy Pelosi’s contention that Omar doesn’t understand the power of her words so we should just ignore her repeated, unapologetic, anti-semitic remarks, this interview demonstrates that Omar knows exactly what she’s doing.
“As much as other people are uncomfortable, I’m excited about the change in tone that has taken place that is extremely positive. The insightful conversations that we’re having about money and its influence in Washington. And my ability, I think, to agitate our foreign policy discussions in a way that many of my colleagues who have been anti-intervention, anti-war have been unable to do in the past.”
Some pundits have likened Omar’s “squad” of fellow radicals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Talib, to Tea Party Republicans. Omar’s embrace of that characterization and her ability to see past the triggering words “Tea Party” to describe some of the similarities shows, yet again, that Omar knows exactly what she’s doing.
“‘We look at the negative aspects of the Tea Party and not really at the part of them that spoke to the American people, that made them feel like there were people actively fighting for them,’ she says. ‘There’s a resemblance there. A lot of us are not that much different in our eagerness to want to come here and fight for our constituents, fight for the American ideals we believe in.'”
Since Omar’s election, she’s had a string of victories against the old guard, including a ban against headwear in Congress being lifted (which allows her to wear a hijab in the House) and the complete capitulation of House leadership in this week’s anti-hate resolution. Her words to Alberta about the Dems’ attempt to appease everyone are both prophetic and ironic in light of Thursday’s events:
“We seem to be afraid of our own shadow. We’ve become too afraid, I think, to actually listen to the people, and to recognize who our base is…we seem to not understand them or have loyalty to them. When you are constantly trying to figure out how to appease everyone, you end up not appeasing anyone.”
Unfortunately for Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrat party leadership, Omar’s recent wins will only embolden her and reinforce her commitment to the course she’s set. She may be an even bigger gift to conservatives than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.