If Nancy Pelosi Can’t Defend Ocasio-Cortez, Omar And Tlaib, The Speaker Should Resign

Donald Trump is seizing on what many Republicans believe is an opportunity to foster internal discord with Democrats amid a simmering feud between Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The latest headlines center around comments Pelosi made during a July 6 interview with Maureen Dowd. In a hopelessly tone-deaf remark, the speaker (the most powerful women ever elected to public office in the United States), derided “The Squad” in the most condescending way imaginable, in the process laying bare her own inadequacies as a public servant in the modern era of American politics.

“These people have their public whatever and their Twitter world”, Pelosi remarked. “They didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got”, she continued, referencing the recently-passed border bill.

“The Squad” is comprised of AOC, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and it goes without saying that Pelosi’s remarks played right into their hands. Pelosi’s derisive reference to “these people” had clear racial overtones and even if it didn’t, referring to the “public whatever” and “their Twitter world” is a laughably out-of-touch characterization of voters and social media.

Pelosi, it would seem, embodies the aloof Washington establishment, so disconnected from those she serves that she sees them as the “public whatever”. (Pelosi, like every other member of Congress, works for the public.)

Her fumbling reference to a “Twitter world” makes the speaker seem like a stereotype – a cobweb-laden relic, haplessly fighting a two-front war against Progressives and Donald Trump, both of whom are the very definition of social media savvy.

“The Squad represents more than its members’ four singular votes in the House. To think otherwise significantly minimizes the influence of their national audience, including nearly 7 million Twitter followers, and their ability to capture the spotlight of traditional media”, former congresswoman Donna Edwards wrote for the Washington Post this week. “That’s not everything, but it’s not nothing”, she continued, adding that “while winning and maintaining a House majority requires legislative success on Capitol Hill, it also requires foot soldiers who can bring out the vote come Election Day”. Someone forgot to tell Pelosi, though. She seems oddly oblivious.

On Wednesday, the Post published an interview with AOC, which detailed a closed-door meeting during which Pelosi reportedly admonished her party in the fashion of a crime family matriarch. “You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just okay”, Pelosi said.

AOC told the Post that Pelosi was targeting newcomers and, specifically, newcomers who also happen to be women of color.

“When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood”, Ocasio-Cortez said. “But the persistent singling out… it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful… the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color”.

Let’s face it: All pretensions to decorum and the rather obvious fact that Pelosi is not a racist aside, AOC is correct. Sophia Nelson spelled things out pretty succinctly in a recent column for USA Today:

No, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not a racist. Yes, she has been an ally of women of color for her entire 31-year career in Congress.

I have seen her up close and personal, when she spoke at an event my Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority held last year in Washington, D.C. at the Library of Congress to honor a historic black woman. She is all in on black women’s advancement and policy issues. To argue otherwise would be untrue.

Yet freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has it right – Speaker Pelosi is old guard. She does not like her new, high-profile women of color members nipping at her heels. She paid her dues. She worked her way up through the male dominated congressional system for decades to become the nation’s first female Speaker of the House.

The daughter of a powerful Baltimore Mayor, Pelosi was raised in the 1950s and came of age in the early 1960s. She remembers a time when women were like “Leave it to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best” moms, known for their pearls and perfectly coiffed hair.

There you go. And, to speak colloquially, that attitude ain’t gonna cut it in 2019. America has a president who has no qualms about denigrating war heroes from his own party (even after they’re dead) and suggesting sitting US senators offered him sexual favors for money. Moms from “Leave it to Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” (to employ Nelson’s reference) aren’t built for this environment. (And there’s something profoundly ironic about this considering it is that era that Trump has promised to “make great again”.)

We have long argued in these pages that Pelosi’s demonstrable disdain for AOC was a strategic error of potentially disastrous proportions. Shortly after the speaker shared the cover of Rolling Stone with AOC and Omar, Ocasio-Cortez delivered a scathing indictment of cynicism and political apathy while speaking at South by Southwest in March. Here is the clip:

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Democrats’ willingness to ostracize 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 wha’s “realistic” or “feasible”, which is precisely the attitude that Ocasio-Cortez took to task at South by Southwest in front of a crowd that was larger than that drawn by Elizabeth Warren at the same event.

In a subsequent interview with Washington Post magazine, Pelosi unwittingly underscored the point. Here’s what she said:

So what I see, and I say this to them: I was you. I used to carry the [protest] signs pushing strollers. … 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.

That 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. That might be a tenable proposition if it were actually possible to obtain results, but when Congress is incapable of legislating (as it clearly is, or at least in the eyes of voters, who see nothing but gridlock when they look towards Capitol Hill), then what good does it do to abandon the fervent activism?

Democrats’ refusal to come out in full support of AOC, Omar and Tlaib in the face of controversy risks alienating the trio’s millions of followers, many of whom are, of course, voters. It also risks putting moderate Democrats, including Pelosi, in the same category as Donald Trump, however absurd and wholly unfair that would be.

This week, Trump jumped at the opportunity to defend Pelosi. “Cortez should treat Nancy Pelosi with respect”, the president said. “She should not be doing what she’s doing. And I’ll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do. She is not a racist, OK? She is not a racist. For them to call her a racist is a disgrace”.

That, coming from a man who has gone out of his way to disrespect Pelosi whenever and wherever possible.

As usual, Trump reserved his most pointed criticism for Omar. “I’m looking at this Omar from Minnesota. And if one half of the things they’re saying about her are true, she shouldn’t even be in office”, he declared, in yet another dog-whistling exercise to his Islamophobic base.

In April, Trump posted a video on Twitter featuring a soundbite (taken out of context) from a speech Omar gave in March followed by graphic images of 9/11. The president’s tweet served to amplify a New York Post cover which featured the same quote juxtaposed with a still-shot of a plane combusting as it scythed through one of the Towers.

It wasn’t the first time Trump has taken aim at Omar. The president has variously accused her of being an anti-Semite (an ironic comment from a man who has faced withering criticism for his failures to condemn white nationalism and, in some cases, for failing to explicitly condemn actual neo-Nazis), a message conservative media have been keen to parrot. Trump also suggested that Omar “hates America” during a wild CPAC rant on March 2, prompting the crowd to shout her name.

Read more: Trump’s War On Ilhan Omar Is Highly Disconcerting

On Sunday, Trump took it up another notch.

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run”, Trump tweeted.

And then, he told Omar to go back where she came from. Literally.

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”, Trump said. “These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough”.

If moderate Democrats (including and especially Pelosi) do not step up to decry this latest heinous broadside from the president, they will have lost any and all credibility they had left among progressive-leaning voters.

Trump’s Sunday morning tweets were an anti-immigrant, xenophobic tour de force that doubled as an implicit endorsement of Pelosi aimed at further splintering the Democratic party.

Trump concluded his remarks by encouraging Pelosi to buy Omar a plane ticket out of the country.

“I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”, the president quipped.

In response, the speaker issued yet another ostensibly stern, but inherently amorphous, statement. “When [Donald Trump] tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again”, she said. “Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power”.

Pelosi first issued the statement in “the Twitter world”.

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22 thoughts on “If Nancy Pelosi Can’t Defend Ocasio-Cortez, Omar And Tlaib, The Speaker Should Resign

  1. I’ve read that Pelosi’s net worth is between 20 and 70 million dollars. Her overlords, like Chuck and the rest of the old line democrats, are the neoliberal corporate elite. In this country we have fascists and fascists-lite. Government by and for the people my ass.

  2. Nancy Pelosi absolutely refuses to impeach Trump or in any way hold him to account. For that enough, she should resign in shame. But fine, she thinks that would be a distraction from passing legislation. Great. What legislation? What has the House passed to put pressure on the Senate or Republicans in 2020? She controls one-half of a co-equal branch of government. How has she leveraged that to get concessions from Trump and Mitch McConnell? She hasn’t. She has rolled over every single time in defense spending, the budget, the Goon Squad and concentration camp funding. Her two (2!) “victories” have been not really preventing Trump from diverting funds to build his hate monument, and a vicious sideways sarcasti-clap. She is resisting her own left-wing far, far harder and more tenaciously than she is Trump or the G.O.P. She Had TO GO!!

    1. “What legislation?”

      Exactly. As noted in the post, there’s no point in shackling your superstars on the excuse they impede the legislative process if you’re not actually legislating anything in the first place

  3. Remember the MSM propaganda about how fantastic and important Pelosi was for getting legislation done, when before was up for confirmation as House Speaker. Nancy needs to pass the torch, as does many of the Clintonista hangers on in the DNC.

  4. If you live in middle America where the line between voting for centrist democrat, or centrist republican is quite fine, you would understand why many of us look at disdain on the ultra liberal concepts of AOC’s and co’s masters, designed not to move the country together and forward, but instead to promote their own social media personalities.

    It is not that the ideas on a one off basis are not good, it is just that in sum there is no plausible way to go all in with a plethora of concepts that have not been fully baked as to the effects.

    Furthermore, the real issue is that there is no credible history or data, that they ideas will bring move liberal voters out and not bring out move conservative voters that are enraged or scared that it is going to have an effect on them.

    The recent history would suggest that the more AOC’s and co and her handlers try to fire things up, the more ammo Trump but also centrists republicans will have to win next time around. The downside to AOC very little since she is in a secure seat and her media position increases, the downside to the US; huge if the GOP succeeds in 2020. ….

    In addition, I enjoy Heisenberg, however the Heisenberg that wrote this article is not the same as the one writing about the markets, as we know that the market effect of the AOCs and co, plus handlers, ideas would not be positive.

    (This reference to handlers, should not imply that Pelosi does not also have a sophisticated staff that is thinking through things. So the argument is not Pelosi versus AOC, but rather the smart educated team behind Pelosi, versus the splinter group trying to build their own fame through social media – with out regard to those of us not in ultraliberal enclaves)

    1. I regret to inform you that it is exactly the same Heisenberg who writes about markets who wrote this article. I also regret to inform you that the Heisenberg Report, as a platform, stands 100% behind AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, who are doing what they were elected to do: Change the country for the better as opposed to doing absolutely nothing all day other than wasting your tax dollars, which is what centrist Democrats seem content to do.

      As far as your suggestion that the progressive agenda isn’t feasible, would you care to elaborate on why MMT won’t work? And before you do, please do read our entire MMT archive, which spans at least 30,000 words at this point, so you can be sure you aren’t making an argument I’ve already refuted.

      Lastly, you couldn’t be more wrong when you say progressives aren’t “trying to move the country forward”. I suggest you find a dictionary and look up the word “progress”.

    1. Right. Which underscores a generalized ignorance about the economy. How many Trump voters actually benefit from capitalism? What is the average annual household income of Trump’s base? He plays on ignorance and fear. There is no sense in which capitalism and tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations benefit the majority of the people that show up at Trump’s rallies. The cold, hard reality of the situation is that capitalism is no longer functioning properly in America. Trump’s base should know this better than anyone, but they’d rather blame immigrants and put their trust in a man who has never worked for anything in his life and has, by most accounts, failed at every business venture he’s ever tried, which underscores yet another layer of irony: Trump may well be one of the least successful capitalists of all time. How in God’s name do you start with a $400 million inheritance and only end up with $3.5 billion six decades later? You have to be a special kind of dumb to manage that. And, of course, there’s no telling if he’s even really worth $3.5 billion.

      1. Most people who live in America benefit from capitalism. That’s why most Cubans want to swim across the straights to live here and not the other way around. Same applies for most of the rest of the world.

        Yes, of course, Trump base also benefits. Particularly from economic expansion. More people are working and some of them will vote for Trump for that reason alone.

        I don’t know what you mean by “properly” and when it happened last time. You can complain about growing inequality for the rest of your life but who said this is not proper capitalism? You can argue that this is not the best possible system for the masses, but that’s another debate.

        In summary, I agree with two other anonymous commentators that “progressives” will push centrist voters towards Trump, and I could be one of them.

        WRT the subject of your post, I don’t see why it is Pelosi’s job to defend them for Trump. These women are more than capable to defend themselves. Strategically, they represent a lot more serious threat to dem party establishment represented by Pelosi than to Trump.

        1. from Trump.

          On second thought, maybe she should issue some sort of condemnation (and maybe she did already), I just don’t think it can be called defense.

        2. “Most people who live in America benefit from capitalism.”

          this is a blatant lie that is undercut by all manner of empirical evidence and reams upon reams of academic work. you clearly do not know that much about this subject, and seem well-meaning, so i’ll give you a pass. i don’t think there’s much hope in trying to explain it to you, but you can start here: https://heisenbergreport.com/2019/06/27/trump-plans-100-billion-middle-finger-to-middle-class-with-possibly-illegal-tax-break-for-the-rich/

          it’s not clear to me that you have any real conception of what “inequality” is. it sounds like you mean guy on one side of town makes $45k, guy on the other side of town makes $200k. If that were the extent of it, then sure, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles and hard work pays off, etc. etc. this country is a kleptocracy and an aristocracy. we are the wealthiest nation on the planet and somehow can’t figure out how to provide for the poor, how to provide proper education and how to give everyone healthcare. it’s a disgrace, and Trump is hell bent on perpetuating it.

          Oh, and why is it, if Trump’s economy is so fantastic compared to Obamas, that the US added more jobs on average during the equivalent number of months at the end of the Obama presidency as the number of months Trump has been in office? that is a fact. Also, why is it that if you look at a quarterly GDP chart, you would be hard-pressed to point out the supposed “miracle” that happened under Trump? why is it that if you look at hard data, as opposed to “soft”/sentiment data, you would have a difficult time discerning this purported economic renaissance? in other words: why is that reality clashes with everything Trump says? why is that farmers are going bankrupt from the tariffs and he’s selling them $45 “Make Farmers Great Again” hats on his website? why is it that campaign donations went towards his legal defense fees in the Russia probe? and I can go on, and on, and on, and on. he is a grifter and you are being sold a lie. people like AOC are trying to tell you the truth about that and all manner of other things, but you aren’t willing to listen.

          1. First mistake among many, is that you took me for a Trump supporter. I don’t need a pass from you but thanks for giving it to me anyway. You are not getting one from me though even though you are well-meaning.

            I know it might sound a bit immodest but I am not very interested in academic research on this subject. The reason is that I lived half of my life in a socialist country and I know first hand what I’m talking about. I know in what sense capitalism works for most people and socialism works for no one but the apparatchics. It is disingenuous to suggest that we don’t take care of the poor. Look at how many people are on Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and other forms of assistance. It is true, of course, that a lot of people are not covered by health insurance, and education sucks (not clear whose fault that is though) etc. but this is far – FAR – cry from claiming that capitalism doesn’t work for most. Even our poor live better than most Cubans otherwise they are stupid not to move there. That’s capitalism at work!

            And please don’t pontificate at me about poverty and inequality. I came here with nothing. At first, I lived in absolute poverty, then I was just poor (wife got a low paying job) and then we went thru various degrees of being slightly less poor. Since we happened to live in Manhattan, it was easy to observe inequality. There is nothing you can tell me that I don’t know or experienced in person. How many times you were unable to pay for your meal? Have you ever had a tooth pulled by an unlicensed dentist using equipment picked from a garbage dump? No? Then save your righteous rage for someone else, ok? Oh and btw, in a couple of years of living in NY, still counting every penny, w/o any form of public assistance, I already lived better than in the old country.

            This should be your key for understanding where I come from. I really REALLY don’t give a damn about inequality. Even when I was at the very bottom (not counting homeless), inequality was the last thing bothering me. I cared about buying milk, cereal, potatoes and subway tokens. I didn’t (and still don’t) care about millionaires living in Trump tower. I don’t care how many billions Jeff Bezos have. I care about paying my mortgage and my kids tuition.

            Inequality is a wrong target that brainless SJW types pursue. History taught them nothing. The problem of inequality was already solved once in Russia and the results are well known to everyone, apart from those who claim that it was a wrong type of socialism or not a socialism at all. Sure, sure. Except there is no other kind. Arguably, inequality is a natural byproduct of capitalism in the sense that people have incentives to work hard in order to live better.

            The right target is to do as much as possible to facilitate economic growth even at the cost of giving tax breaks to evil corporations. The more people work and earn decent wages the better for them and for the rest of us.

            I didn’t say anything about Trump economy being better than Obama’s (although once you are done with cherry-picking data and look at totals it probably will look better), nor about miracle, nor about renaissance so I’m not sure why your telling me all this. I’m sure you can go on and on about Trump as you do every day but please don’t: you are preaching to the quire. I have zero sympathy for the guy but I still think that a lot of people benefited from his policies. Except for farmers but I thought he somehow compensated them.

          2. “I know it might sound a bit immodest but I am not very interested in academic research on this subject”

            I figured as much.

            “How many times you were unable to pay for your meal?”

            More than once, but not more than ~two-dozen times. (rough estimates, based on admittedly cloudy recollection abilities during that particular time period)

            “Have you ever had a tooth pulled by an unlicensed dentist using equipment picked from a garbage dump?”

            No. I have so many questions about this. you should tell the rest of the story.

            Finally, what “totals” are you talking about for the economy? I cited NFP and GDP. Those are literally the most broad-based indicators there are. Can you point me to what I should be using instead?

          3. Nothing interesting about that tooth. A lot of pain, no money to pay for a real dentist, no insurance, sleepless nights, desperation, friends recommended a woman illegally operating out of her apartment in Brooklyn. She charged $100 w/o anesthesia of course. How many times you had dental work (not counting cleaning) done w/o anesthesia?

            I’ll give you another data point: in the socialist paradise where I grew up, it was every effing time. Every caries that I had drilled was w/o anesthesia. You have any idea how it feels?Maybe anesthesia was available for the party elite but certainly not for the rest of us. Here, almost everybody gets it and it’s also capitalism at work.

          4. This is all kinds of absurd, which you must surely realize. This is the same old strawman. You are implicitly equating AOC’s policy prescriptions with what sounds like something out of Venezuela. With all due respect to your experiences, that comparison is blatant bullshit and it’s the kind of ridiculous propaganda that Trump relies on to scare the public. The idea that the progressive wing of the Democratic party is hell-bent on forcing people to have cavities filled with no anesthesia is utterly ridiculous. until you can explain, in economic terms, and taking into account the 30,000 or so words we’ve written here refuting MMT critics, why MMT can’t work to fund Progessive policy proposals like universal healthcare, then you really don’t have a leg to stand on, other than trying to scare everybody to death with stories about a country that bears no resemblance to the multitude of prosperous countries who have adopted, in one form or another, soft socialism.

          5. And do you know what else? Brooklyn is, of course, in the United States. If AOC’s policies were in place, you wouldn’t have had to go to this nefarious woman operating out of her apartment, because the US government would have paid for a dentist. See there?! You’re an AOC supporter and you didn’t even know it.

          6. By totals I meant total increase in GDP and jobs created. Obama’s second term vs. Trump’s first (and hopefully last). We’ll have to wait for the final count on these but I am placing my bet on Trump.

            I cannot prove to you that MMT won’t work. I am “philosophically” against it because I believe that something doesn’t come out of nothing and that real life problems cannot be solved by accounting tricks. And I have a lot of well-qualified people arguing the case for me. I prefer an honest solution in the spirit of Obamacare but better designed.

            My main point of contention was about capitalism which, according to you, doesn’t work. I am not saying that AOC’s policies will take us straight to Venezuela. I am for universal access to health care but I’m against killing private insurance. Anyone who wants it is taking the first step towards Venezuela. Yeah, our system is not perfect and I happened to have fallen thru a crack. Uh-ah. The Brooklyn woman had me fixed and made a few bucks in the process. Everyone won and god bless America. The point of the story was not about pitying poor me suffering (who said immigration should be easy?) but to spare me from your lectures on poverty and inequality. I’m well aware, thank you very much.

      2. I agree with everything you said. As long as the car is running they do not care to look under the hood. When the car breaks down they will blame it on Democrats, and that will be the extent of their troubleshooting. I like AOC, and wish her luck.

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