The escalating internecine feud between far-left freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and less-far-left House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acquired a new component this week: racial identity. In comments that instantly attained viral status, Ocasio-Cortez suggested Wednesday that the Democratic House leader was "singling out" women of color, like herself, a comment she doubled down on before attempting to downplay. Now that Ocasio-Cortez's civil war with Pelosi has added an identity politics front, decorated war hero and Republican lawmaker Dan Crenshaw has offered a message to the embattled leader of the House Democrats.
The battle, which really has been brewing since day one when Ocasio-Cortez participated in a protest a radical group staged at Pelosi's office, ramped up when the House Speaker took a clear shot at the tweet-happy freshman rep. and her "Squad" of radical freshmen Democrats — Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Ayanna Pressley (MA) — for pushing back against her leadership. "All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got," Pelosi told The New York Times Saturday.
"That public 'whatever' is called public sentiment," Ocasio-Cortez snapped back Saturday. "And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country."
Amid a series of reports that "The Squad" are "struggling" with how to respond to Pelosi putting them in their place, Ocasio-Cortez suggested to The Washington Post on Wednesday that race has something to do with it.
"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 told the Post. "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."
The dig prompted Crenshaw, likewise a freshman lawmaker but on the other side of the aisle, to send a sympathetic message to Pelosi. "Madam Speaker, welcome to the true nature of identity politics — where you’re accused of being racist for no reason at all, and where intellectually lazy insults are used against you as a way to replace substantive debate of your argument or idea," wrote Crenshaw.
As noted by Hot Air, CNN's Manu Raju followed up with Ocasio-Cortez Thursday to see if she stood by her comments. "Well I think it’s really just pointing out a pattern, right?" she said. "We’re not talking just about progressives, it’s singling out four individuals and knowing the media environment we’re operating in knowing the amount of death threats we get, knowing the amount of concentration of attention, I think it’s worth asking why."
Asked directly if she was suggesting Pelosi is racist or has racial animus, she said, "No, no, absolutely not, absolutely not."
In her press conference Thursday, Pelosi responded to The Squad's comments about her, saying, "They took offense because I addressed, at the request of my members, an offensive tweet that came out of one of the members’ offices that referenced our Blue Dogs and our New Dems essentially as segregationists," she said. "Our members took offense at that. I addressed that. How they’re interpreting and carrying it to another place is up to them. But I’m not going to be discussing it any further. I said what I’m going to say."
This article has been revised for clarity.