In a piece for Politico Thursday, Eliana Johnson and Melanie Zanona warn Democrats that freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar is playing right into President Trump’s hands, and helping make what was once a “happily united” Democratic Party a bit more “complicated.”
“She snidely refers to him as ‘Individual 1.’ She has denounced him for ‘sabotaging the economy.’ And she has accused him of engaging in ‘dehumanizing rhetoric,” Johnson and Zanona write. “But this week, freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has been President Donald Trump’s dream come true.”
Trump should be getting beat up by the press over his “failed North Korea summit” and convicted felon and admitted liar Michael Cohen’s “scathing testimony,” they suggest; instead, Omar’s anti-Semitic comments have “consumed the political headlines” over the last week, “giving Democratic lawmakers a taste of the scandal and controversy that has dogged Republicans for the past two years.”
Omar’s insistence on repeatedly pushing anti-Semitic, conspiratorial comments about pro-Israel politicians’ “dual loyalty” and “allegiance to a foreign country,” as well as the supposed insidious influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee AIPAC, has forced Democrats to take action — and prompted an internal battle over how much to single out Omar and anti-Semitism.
The Democratic leadership eventually caved to the party’s more radical elements Thursday and issued a resolution that does not name Omar at all and waters down the condemnation of anti-Semitism by including a long list of forms of bigotry, particularly anti-Muslim bigotry, which the resolution actually couples with anti-Semitism in its opening clause:
Condemning anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and condemning anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States.
The fissures within the party that revealed themselves over the course of the week, Politico predicts, will not be mended “anytime soon.”
“[V]ictory in the 2018 midterm elections, which delivered Democrats control of the House chamber, is already spotlighting cleavages within the party — including on the subject of Israel — that have gotten scant attention over the past two years,” Johnson and Zanona note. “While Omar’s remarks may fade from the headlines, there’s little reason to think Democrats will finish arguing among themselves anytime soon.”
Though it was supposed to be a rebuke of her own comments, Omar ended up claiming victory on Thursday by emphasizing the resolution’s condemnation of bigotry against Muslims. In a joint statement with fellow freshman Muslim congresswoman and radical Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Andre Carson, Omar led by celebrating the resolution’s condemnation of “Anti-Muslim bigotry.”
“Today is historic on many fronts. It’s the first time we have voted on a resolution condemning Anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation’s history. Anti-Muslim crimes have increased 99% from 2014-2016 and are still on the rise,” they stated. “We are tremendously proud to be a part of a body that has put forth a condemnation of all forms of bigotry including anti-Semitism, racism, and white supremacy. At a time when extremism is on the rise, we must expliciatly renounce religious intolerance of all kinds and acknowledge the pain felt by all communities. Our nation is having a difficult conversation and we believe this is great progress.”