Pelosi Doubles Down On The 'Ilhan Omar Just Doesn't Understand What She's Saying' Defense

|
|
Posted: Mar 08, 2019 3:05 PM
Pelosi Doubles Down On The 'Ilhan Omar Just Doesn't Understand What She's Saying' Defense

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Well, for a second day, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has decided to protect one of her members in the House by torching her. More accurately, she’s bashing her intelligence. During a press conference yesterday, Pelosi said that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who's been accused of anti-Semitism, isn’t a bigot, but mentally disabled or something. She’s an idiot, so you can’t take her words to heart. Excuse me? A woman of color doesn’t know what she’s saying because she’s a moron, so please ignore what she has said about Israel, Jewish people, and those who support Israel. That sounds problematic. Hey, these aren’t my rules. For Pelosi to call a black woman too dumb to know what she’s saying—I could see that irking some progressives. Isn’t that a tad racist…in liberal land? It’s certainly not nice on its own. Regardless, Pelosi has shown that she’s unable to tame the waters of this anti-Semitic wave that’s engulfed House Democrats. Today, at The Economic Club lunch in D.C, she once again said that Omar isn’t an anti-Semite because she’s more or less an idiot.

It’s been a whirlwind defense of Omar. You have Pelosi calling her an idiot, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) saying she’s “from a different culture,” so that makes it okay, and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the House Majority Whip, downplaying the Holocaust to defend Omar. 

The Minnesota Democrat has serially peddled anti-Semitic talking points on social media. She said Israel had hypnotized the world in 2012. Then, recently, came the “all about the Benjamins” tweet, which insinuated the influence of Jewish money in government, an age-old anti-Semitic line. Recently, she accused those of supporting Israel of exhibiting a dual loyalty (via Washington Examiner):

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D.-Minn., who earlier this month was forced into a hostage tape style fake apology for anti-Semitic tweets, is unrepentant. Speaking at a liberal event in Washington, she accused Jews who have criticized her anti-Semitic statements as holding her to a different standard because she's Muslim, while again peddling a classic anti-Semitic dual loyalty smear.

To briefly recap, earlier this month the freshman Democrat lamented Jewish influence in Washington by tweeting out "It's all about the Benjamins baby." She then followed it up by saying she meant AIPAC and then promoted several other supportive tweets furthering the same argument about Jewish donor influence. After widespread condemnation, she was forced into a fake apology by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying she unknowingly spread anti-Semitism. This was the second time in a matter of weeks she had been forced to apologize, previously pleading ignorance about why her statement that "Israel has hypnotized the world" carried anti-Semitic connotations. Tlaib, for her part, has spread the dual-loyalty smear targeting American supporters of Israel.

She has not apologized for the latest remark, which pressured the House leadership into drafting a watered-down resolution against discrimination that did not single out Omar, though it should have. The message here is if you’re a Democrat, anti-Semitism is okay and it won’t be taken seriously. Why? Well, because Trump is president. Pelosi has lost control of her caucus and she needs to rein it in (though I hope she doesn’t) because some are saying her majority is at risk. The folks causing all the trouble have zero chances of being beaten by the Republican in 2020, but they’re not the only ones running for re-election:

Today’s barn-burners are Democrats who risk no chance of being defeated in a general election by a Republican. Their only fear is a primary challenger who embraces proposals even more impractical than they do.

The House on Thursday adopted a resolution condemning various kinds of discrimination but, significantly, did not mention Omar. It might soothe the ruffled feelings of some Democratic members but is not likely to serve as a warning that statements like hers will carry serious consequences in the future.  

Pelosi cannot allow herself to be pushed around by junior members who run no political risk by making comments and proposals that threaten the very colleagues whose courage to fight on uncertain terrain brought the Democrats to power. What plays for Tlaib in Inkster, Michigan, does not necessarily go down well in Luria's Norfolk, Virginia, district — but it is the latter community and ones like it that wrote the story of the great Democratic victory last year. Pelosi is only too aware of that. She needs to kick butt and take names, and do it fast.

Given how Pelosi has responded thus far, by pretty much calling Omar an idiot, it’s not going well.