Well, American politics hit a new low on Monday.
I wasn’t going to write this up, but ultimately, it seems relevant in light of stinging comments Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered at South by Southwest over the weekend.
While AOC’s “irredeemable” characterization of capitalism grabbed all the headlines on Saturday, it was her scathing indictment of cynicism and political apathy that was perhaps even more germane in the current environment.
For those who missed it, here is the clip:
When we presented that on Sunday, we put it in the context of what will almost surely be seen in hindsight as a mishandling by the Democratic party of its own rising superstars.
Democrats’ willingness to ostracize Ilhan Omar for raising uncomfortable issues about the influence of the pro-Israel lobby and the tendency for moderates to adopt a condescending approach to the economic and environmental platform of Ocasio-Cortez, are indicative of an aversion to real change. That aversion isn’t pitched as such, of course. Rather, it’s justified by allusions to what’s “realistic” or “feasible”, which is precisely the attitude that Ocasio-Cortez took to task on Saturday in front of a crowd that was larger than that drawn by Elizabeth Warren at the same event.
Deal With It: On Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez And â€˜Irredeemableâ€™ Capitalism
Well, in a sweeping interview with the Washington PostÂ Magazine published on Monday, Nancy Pelosi made a series of comments that seemingly underscored AOC’s contention that “meh” has become gospel and that apathy is everywhere and always couched in terms that suggest advocating for real change is tantamount to being naive.
Here is what the vaunted House speaker said when asked specifically about Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, with whom Pelosi shared the cover of Rolling Stone this month:
So youâ€™re on the cover of Rolling Stone with Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). Do you see in this new generation of women lawmakers, not just them, but this generation, do you see yourself in them, or do you not see much of yourself in them at all?
Hereâ€™s what I see myself in them as: When I came to Congress I had no intention of running for office, shy person that I have always been. I was chair of the [California Democratic] Party, always advancing other people. I loved that because I cared about the causes of the Democratic Party, about fairness in our economy. My motivation is the 1 in 5 children who lives in poverty in America.
So what I see, and I say this to them: I was you. I used to carry the [protest] signs pushing strollers. â€¦ And as an advocate, relentless, persistent, dissatisfied always. But when you cross over the threshold and come to Congress, you can bring those enthusiasms, those priorities, your knowledge, your vision, your plan. But you have to want to get results. You have to get results. Then, you were trying to impact others making decisions. Now you are that person. So [my] being a progressive, a liberal from San Francisco, they canâ€™t go any place I havenâ€™t been philosophically. [Laughs.] â€¦ So I think I have a good simpatico with a lot of them because, again, thatâ€™s who I was. The young women today, though, coming in â€¦ the way they balance family and children and home, Iâ€™m in awe of them. Iâ€™m in awe of them.
That latter passage – and specifically the bit where Pelosi talks about getting “results” – sounds like she is again attempting to draw a distinction between activism and disaffection with the existing state of affairs and how one’s attitude with regard to being a “relentless, persistent, advocate” needs to be subjugated to the process by which “results” are obtained once one gets elected. If that weren’t what Pelosi was trying to say, she wouldn’t have needed to use the word “but” to start two consecutive sentences.
The truly disappointing bit, though, came when Pelosi weighed in on impeachment. Here is the exchange:
There have been increasing calls, including from some of your members, for impeachment of the president.
Iâ€™m not for impeachment. This is news. Iâ€™m going to give you some news right now because I havenâ€™t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and Iâ€™ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless thereâ€™s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I donâ€™t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And heâ€™s just not worth it.
You said earlier you donâ€™t feel itâ€™s worth it to pursue impeachment. Do you believe heâ€™s fit to be president?
Are we talking ethically? Intellectually? Politically? What are we talking here?
All of the above. No. No. I donâ€™t think he is. I mean, ethically unfit. Intellectually unfit. Curiosity-wise unfit. No, I donâ€™t think heâ€™s fit to be president of the United States. And thatâ€™s up to us to make the contrast to show that this president â€” while he may be appealing to you on your insecurity and therefore your xenophobia, whether itâ€™s globalization or immigrants â€” is fighting clean air for your children to breathe, clean water for them to drink, food safety, every good thing that we should be doing that people canâ€™t do for themselves. You know, I have five kids, and I think I can do everything for them, but I canâ€™t control the air they breathe, the water that they drink. You depend on the public sector to do certain things for the health and well-being of your family, and he is counter to that.
That, right there, is sad. And that’s what we meant here at the outset when we contended that American politics hit a new low on Monday.
It’s not so much about whether you think impeaching this president is the right thing to do. That is, we’re not necessarily saying it’s a sad day in America when a powerful lawmaker says she isn’t in favor of booting Donald Trump from the Oval Office.
Rather, what’s sad about Pelosi’s comments is that they suggest AOC is precisely correct to say that cynicism and apathy are now the default attitudes inside the Beltway.
Take a second to appreciate the stark juxtaposition between Pelosi saying that in her opinion, a sitting US president is i) unfit for office “ethically and intellectually”, ii) stoking xenophobia,Â iii) imperiling your children’s future by fighting against clean water and safe food and, hilariously, iv) working to undermine “every good thing that we should be doing”, and then suggesting that it isn’t worth Congress’s time to impeach that president.
Never mind whether this is Nancy Pelosi talking about Donald Trump. Just abstract yourself from that and think of it as the speaker of the House (any speaker of the House) talking about a sitting US president (any sitting US president).
How is it possible to reconcile the assessment you read above of the person occupying the White House with this attitude when it comes to impeachment:
[It’s just] not worth it.
The only way that is consistent is if Ocasio-Cortez is correct to say, as she did on Saturday, that “the â€˜mehâ€™ is worshipped now.”
And to re-ask her followup:
11 thoughts on “Ocasio-Cortez Is Right – The ‘Meh’ Is Worshipped Now, And Nancy Pelosi’s WaPo Interview Proves It”
If this wasn’t worth writing about I guess this comment is equally worthless..My point being that air we breath and water we drink is irrelevant when this country is off on a tangent to create world chaos if not WWIII. So Nancy waste, your comment on what matters and is willfully ignored and ‘ll do the same . H… thanks for the opportunity to say my piece…..
No, I mean, I think it’s definitely worth writing about. I just try to pick and choose when I’m the right person to do it.
i.e., I don’t like to just parrot other people’s headlines, but there was a good hook here with AOC’s SXSW comments and I think it’s an important subject — plus, not everyone reads WaPo, so entirely possible those excerpts would have been lost on some readers, especially folks who would rather not read an entire interview with Nancy. lol
How is it possible that Pelosi does not know how divided this country already is? And getting more so every day with his constant insane behavior.
She is a very smart woman, she must know that publicly threatening trump would further his rage and vengeful actions. Perhaps coaxing him into thinking the Dems are not after him, he will be calmer. This would allow a bit of time for Mueller’s report to come out and if indeed he has criminal action documented, (how could it not have that) it would pull some of those Repubs over to voting in favor of impeachment, making it quicker and easier to get him out of the oval office. What choice would they have? If they do not support impeachment they would most certainly be in violation of their duty to support and protect the constitution – they don’t have the option to ignore criminal behavior. I bet many of them are just waiting for that opportunity; they are not all criminally motivated!
Bottom line is Pelosi is not in favor of trump remaining as President and she is planning the safest and quickest, most effective method with the least damage to America, to get it done.
Murphy, I was thinking the same. She is smarter than the entire Trump Family combined. Plus she has decades of experience in the political arena. This is “strategery” in my opinion. The caveat “unless there is something so compelling and overwhelming” is key. She does not want to alienate moderate republicans (I still believe they exist!) by frontrunning the impeachment screamers.
I don’t know, maybe this is only wishful thinking. Otherwise, if “meh” really was her attitude, Heisenberg would be perfectly right. That would be just sad. And pathetic.
I do think that AOC and Heis are correct about the meh attitude across this country. It had a lot to do with this prick getting into office and it certainly has not helped shut down the racist bigots who have taken the opportunity to ‘come out’, loud and proud. We seem to be somewhat shocked into silence.
However, I also feel that this historical mess has now drawn the full attention of some former meh sayers! We all need to pay attention to our elected politicians, check them out before you vote them into a governing position and speak up when they are not performing their duty. A whole new attitude towards loud and proud and no more meh!
Smart move on Nancy’s part. The “real” republicans are still waiting on a Trump replacement. If Trump goes, before the election, Pence will be the president and there is no way a divided Democratic party will win then. If winning is the objective, it’s best to leave Trump in place and let him define the terms of his own defeat.
Great food for thought. I want him gone, and I dislike Pence immensely. Modern republicans need modifications in my opinion, not runways. Yeah, that gives me pause toward my impeachment desire.
Well Pelosi definitely reflected meh, and cynicism here. People really worship that. Or is that word a dog whistle type of thing?
Pelosi knows trump well and she sees his ego and he will think that he has the better hand — he is that stupid, even Putin used it. And when trump is removed, perhaps before 2020, the Repubs have no respect for Pence and they are not afraid of him – they will dump his ass.
I’m no defender of the Speaker, yet it does not mean she is off base.
But what if her entire strategy or main point could not be voiced expressly? What if she believed she’d rather see a damaged Trump as the 2020 opponent than a senate-UNconvicted opponent that would embolden his base and those in the middle who would see it as an impeachment acquittal, presidential harassment and “bullshit” and no collusion and help him win in 2020? ……
And, she asks, what if you proceed without impeaching him thus penting up within the “normal body politic” another 20 months of unadulterated hate, anger, disdain, etc., for Trump only to be unleashed Tuesday, November 3 2020, we will have not another 2018 tsunami blue wave but a grand mal-tsunami-blue wave?
However, if, as she says, “there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan,”* in the evidence, well that’s another story worth the risk …..
Now that’s a good game of chess – not a concept or a bold philosophy – leaving the game board open for every day changes, which might “certainly infuriate the far-left wing of the party” and openly stating as speaker of the house, that trump is ” ethically unfit. Intellectually unfit. Curiosity-wise unfit. No, I don’t think he’s fit to be president of the United States.” It’s not her fault that the Republicans want a president that fits that profile. Moreover and importantly she is assiduously aware how impeachment can backfire: https://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/21/us/impeachment-polls-public-support-for-president-for-closure-emerges-unshaken.html http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1998/12/20/impeachment.poll/