Tweets and trivia in the Squad Room
The angry ladies of the House trade broadsides with the president
Politics is sometimes a lot like high school, with its surfeit of backbiting, goofy, mean occasionally clever nicknames, and scrambling for popularity, but the latest cannonading of tweets and trivia between President Trump and “the Squad” is taking metaphor a bridge too far. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s feud with Alexandria OcasioCortez and her ladies, and now with the president, is a serious breach of how the government is supposed to work. The exchange demonstrates just how juvenile things have become on Capitol Hill.
Several weeks ago, Mrs. Pelosi persuaded the House of Representatives to pass a bill to send billions of dollars to the Mexican border to address the chaos there. This was not enough for Miss Ocasio-Cortez’s squad, who suffer from acute ignorance of how the government works. Life gets complicated when you get past 18, as the song goes, and life is even more complicated in Congress at any age. The Republicans control the Senate,
the Democrats control the House, the president presides at the White House, and the speaker, who does understand how everything works, had done what she could for the Democratic agenda in the face of the usual partisan obstacles.
The Squad fumed that Mrs. Pelosi had capitulated to the Republicans. The speaker was dismissive of the Squad and its attempt to roll over the rest of Congress. “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Mrs. Pelosi described them in an interview with The New York Times. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they’ve got.” The ladies of the Squad were not thrilled. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that “That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment.” Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota chimed in agreement.
The speaker was naturally a racist just for failing to please the ladies. Racism has become the default insult of the left, rendering it all but meaningless, and illogically applied to Mrs. Pelosi for her sin of gently rebuking the ladies. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez told her that her ladies don’t appreciate criticism, and lectured her that the “persistent singling out [of the Squad] … got to the point where it was just outright disrespectful … the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.” Her chief of staff was harsher. He suggested that moderate Democrats live in a land somewhere beyond racism. “Instead of ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal,’ let’s call the New Democrats and Blue Dog Democrats the ‘New Southern Democrats,’” Miss Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff tweeted. “They certainly seem hell-bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.”
Nothing is new under the sun, as the Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us, and Mrs. Pelosi’s antagonists are small fry compared to those endured by John Boehner and Paul Ryan, who wrestled with teaparty zealotry, which gave rise to the Freedom Caucus, observes Los Angeles Times columnist Jon Healey. “The Freedom Caucus controlled enough votes within the Republican caucus to defeat any measure (or candidate for speaker) that Democrats also opposed, which was pretty much everything of consequence that Republicans sought to do. So the freedomites used their muscle to wag the House, exerting enormous influence over the chamber’s agenda.”
It was inevitable given the current state of the Democratic Party that Democrats would pounce.
The president scolded the Squad, as is his custom when a fat target emerges in Twitterworld, and some Republicans called him over the line for telling the ladies to “go home” and fix the manifest sins of the third world whence they came. They replied, as they should have, that they are home, American citizens all. But the Squad, like most Democrats, have spent years practicing insults of Mr. Trump — accusing him of racism — and they’re getting what they asked for. We live in angry times.