The conventional wisdom in Washington is that President Trump’s attacks on four freshmen congresswomen united a fractious Democratic Party against him.
And while there’s an element of truth to that, it turns out Trump isn’t the only one who rank-and-file Democrats are upset with.
Some of them are also pretty steamed at AOC, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.
In other words, according to a report from CNN, the outrage over Trump’s “go back” tweets simply has papered over the internal Democratic warfare.
If you take a step back, the ongoing warfare between the president and the squad has obliterated any talk of the agenda that Nancy Pelosi is trying to push. And that’s not good for the party, especially for its more moderate wing, peopled in part by lawmakers who helped the Dems take over the House last fall.
The report, by Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, says some Democrats “from across the ideological spectrum” are “growing tired” of the headlines swirling around the four freshmen.
(Considering that they’ve been in Congress for less than seven months and have no real power, the amount of ink and airtime they get is truly remarkable.)
CNN quotes one unnamed House Democratic lawmaker as saying: “The president won this one. What the President has done is politically brilliant. Pelosi was trying to marginalize these folks, and the president has now identified the entire party with them.”
Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.
Another House Democrat said that “less than two weeks ago when members of our caucus were trying to support funds for children at the border," progressives were arguing that "we're pro-putting kids in cages, we're against human rights. So there's frustration.”
A third said, “Anything that takes away from bread-and-butter issues is playing into his hands," referring to Trump.
The story notes that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff used Twitter to compare today’s moderate Democrats to the old southern segregationists, while another progressive, Rep. Mark Pocan, likened moderates to child abusers.
"I can't tell you the number of members who are angry and annoyed about them criticizing us," a fourth House Democrat is quoted as saying.
So that’s the paradox.
In public, the Democrats have to defend the four women because Trump is trashing them for hating America and leading the country down the path to destruction.
But at the same time, they have AOC organizing against the leadership and Omar making a series of anti-Semitic comments, which led to a (ridiculously watered-down) censure resolution.
Meanwhile, the president sparked fresh outrage at Wednesday night’s rally in North Carolina, where he was slamming Omar and some in the crowd started chanting, “Send her back!”
That’s right, they were saying that the Somali refugee, who’s a naturalized U.S. citizen and duly elected member of Congress, should be deported.
What’s striking to me is the harshness of the criticism from some prominent conservatives.
Author Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, said: “Vile. Omar is awful. She is a radical anti-Semite with terrible views. She is also an American citizen and chanting for her deportation based on her exercise of the First Amendment is disgusting.”
Piers Morgan, who often supports the president and recently interviewed him in Britain, called it “the most sickening moment of his presidency.”
He wrote in the Daily Mail:
“This should not be happening in modern America. And the fact Donald Trump is not just allowing it to happen, but actively encouraging it to happen, is an indefensible disgrace.”
The president disavowed the chant with reporters yesterday, saying he was “not happy” with the chant, and didn’t agree with it. He said he started speaking quickly as a way of moving past it.
That was a good first step.
And no politician can be held responsible for crazies in a crowd.
But Trump didn’t challenge the audience in real time, and the question is whether he will in the future if “send her back” becomes a recurring refrain at his rallies.