The Morning Jolt


The ‘Squad’ Gives a Gift to Donald Trump

From left: Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib hold a news conference on Capitol Hill, July 15, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

On Sunday, Donald Trump gave the Democrats a gift — comments that indicate he thinks native-born congresswomen he detests should “go back” to the countries of their ancestors. On Monday, the four congresswomen handed Trump a gift in return, managing to respond to the president’s insults in some of the most politically self-destructive ways possible.

First, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota again called for impeaching President Trump during the press conference with the members of the “Squad” yesterday afternoon. The latest NBC News poll finds that just 21 percent of registered voters want the House to begin impeachment proceedings. With the Democratic presidential primary heating up, most Americans feel like they can see the 2020 presidential election off in the distance. To many Americans, including many of those critical of Trump, a certain-to-fail effort to remove the president from office right before the voters have their say on whether to give him a second term sounds like a ridiculous waste of time.

Separately, Al Green, Democrat from Texas, announced he would introduce articles of impeachment of Trump for his tweets. “The President of the United States is a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, as well as an invidious prevaricator,” Green said. “To say that Donald John Trump is unfit for the Office of the President of the United States is an understatement.” It’s easy to forget that this is the third time Green has done this, and the number of House Democrats willing to support impeachment is in the low 80s, well below the 217 needed.

Get it over with, House Democrats. Have the vote on impeachment. We all know this is going nowhere. Stop telling us what you’re going to do someday and as Betsy Ross flag-denouncing Colin Kaepernick would say, just do it.

Second, Omar also contended Trump “has been credibly accused of committing multiple crimes, including colluding with a foreign government to interfere with our election.” Did she miss the entire Mueller report? Or does she think that Trump did collude and that over 22 months, Robert Mueller and his whole team of investigators and prosecutors just missed the evidence?

Omar revealed that some Trump foes will never let it go, that they will never believe any exoneration, and that there is no need for evidence — at a press conference where the squad was denouncing Trump for making terrible accusations without evidence.

Third, some on the right are arguing that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez refused to denounce an attempted firebombing of the Tacoma immigration detention center. It’s probably more accurate to say she ignored the question. The attacker carried a rifle, attempted to light a propane tank, and set a car on fire; police shot and killed him.

The motive appeared to be anti-ICE, anti-immigration-enforcement terrorism:

Deb Bartley, a friend of Van Spronsen’s for about 20 years, described him as an anarchist and anti-fascist, and she believes his attack on the detention center was intended to provoke a fatal conflict.

“He was ready to end it,” Bartley said. “I think this was a suicide. But then he was able to kind of do it in a way that spoke to his political beliefs . . . I know he went down there knowing he was going to die.”

Still, any of the Squad’s members would be wise to denounce this attack, and as of this writing, they haven’t done so. I suspect they will only do so if they are specifically asked about it.

All of us can see what this is, and it’s not much different from the shooting at the Alexandria baseball field or other cases of attempted political terrorism. But there will be few questions to Democrats of whether they’re fanning the flames of rage against immigration-enforcement officials with their rhetoric. In the minds of many news editors and many Democrats, when some guy shoots up a mosque or a synagogue, it’s a reflection of an atmosphere of hate whipped up by Donald Trump. When somebody tries to blow up an ICE facility, it’s just some random nut who happened to do something, with no connection to the larger political debate.

This comes after protesters at an ICE facility in Aurora, Colorado, took down the American flag and put up a Mexican one, then spray painted graffiti on a Blue Lives Matter flag before flying it upside down on the flag pole. The entire sequence is tailor-made for a Trump reelection commercial.

Whether or not the four congresswomen hate this country, there are antifa and anti-ICE protesters who indisputably do hate this country. Rich may have inspired the 2020 Trump reelection slogan: “Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots.”

Fourth, a reporter at yesterday’s press conference asked Omar, “Can you respond to the President’s claims that you’re a communist and that you’re pro-Al-Qaeda?”

Omar responded, “We are no longer going to allow the dignification of such a ridiculous, ridiculous statement.”

That’s one way to answer it. The accusation that Omar is ‘pro-Al-Qaeda’ is over the top, but Omar’s said more than her share of controversial things — wildly exaggerating the number of Somalis killed by U.S. soldiers during the ‘Black Hawk Down’ battle, giggling about the way someone tenses up while discussing Al-Qaeda during an interview, her declaration that “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something,” the claims that Israel hypnotizes the world, etc.

A lot of Americans, asked whether they support Al-Qaeda, would say, “hell no, I don’t support Al-Qaeda and I want to see every last one of those bastards put six feet under.” Omar . . . took a different approach.

Fifth, earlier that weekend, Omar couldn’t merely declare that she loves this country. No, she had to declare, “I believe, as an immigrant, I probably love this country more than anyone that is naturally born.” This is the moment where many who were sympathetic to her because the criticism from Trump will stop nodding their head.

Social-Justice-Warrior Readers: Please Stop Challenging Our Preconceived Notions

Kevin Williamson, putting his finger on the challenge facing modern political magazines in the era of hyperpolitical tribalism:

The New Republic, like every other magazine of its kind (including this one), must decide what it is or suffer from a crippling crisis of identity. Is it a magazine (in print and digital form) and hence dedicated to publishing writing that is useful, interesting, and delightful? Or is it a political faction — a committee of the Democratic party that produces a very, very expensive newsletter? If its main business is political activism, then, of course, it cannot afford to be offensive: Politics means building coalitions, servicing constituencies, flattering and courting interest groups, etc. But if its main business is to be journalism, then it will — inevitably — publish material that offends and irritates, that is controversial, that defies convention, that shocks polite society, etc. It will also publish material that runs counter to the political preferences of its readers: Rolling Stone was a pretty left-wing magazine that published such conservative writers as Tom Wolfe and P. J. O’Rourke; Playboy was no hothouse of conservatism when William F. Buckley Jr. contributed to it; the readers of the New York Times were not exactly universal in their admiration for William Safire. And if the pissant scolds and hall monitors of the soul had been in power a generation ago, we’d have been deprived of everything from the novels of Norman Mailer to the journalism of Hunter S. Thompson to the songs of Leonard Cohen. I prefer a world with the songs of Leonard Cohen in it even if it outrages every witless “I can’t even!” po-faced Caitlyn on the masthead of The New Republic, which really ought to try to acquire the nerve to stand up for itself if it is going to keep the name.

We have shifted from an era during which readers may grumble about an article they dislike to an era where a not-insignificant number of readers root for the demise of a magazine because of an article they dislike. By this measure, we are growing more “intolerant.”

ADDENDA: Matthew Betley’s fourth military thriller featuring Logan West, Rules of War, ships today — complete with a nifty new animated version of the cover on social media.

Between Two Scorpions is up to 79 reviews! Thank you, Robert Hall:

It is hard to believe this is his first political thriller and only his second novel, instead of his twentieth. Geraghty writes with the touch of a master, strong characterization, intricate plot twists, and non-stop action. If you like thrillers, get this novel. If the political commentary doesn’t work out, he can make an excellent living writing thrillers. I won’t spoil any of the plot for you, but I hope we have people like he writes about on our side. And I hope we see more of these characters. A lot more.

That’s the plan.

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