My bet is that most Democrats would rather be talking about healthcare than Rep. Ilhan Omar, the by-now-notorious Democrat from Minnesota.
This wager is based on a simple enough axiom: It’s best to fight on your strong issues, not your weak ones. Or, as the ancient Roman military strategist Vegetius wrote of the general who wants to win: “He must consider the field of battle and judge whether the ground is more advantageous for him or his enemy.”
But not every plan happens. Now, instead, the Democrats are confronted with a much different issue, being fought on much less advantageous terrain—in the form of Omar. This is, of course, the nature of anything in human affairs; be it politics, or warfare—things change. As another famous military strategist, Helmut von Moltke, put it, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”
The disruption of the Democrats’ happy healthcare plan started on March 23, when Omar delivered a speech to a Council of American-Islamic Relations assembly in Los Angeles in which, bringing up 9/11, she said those words that will live in infamy: “some people did something.”
Actually, Omar’s words didn’t get much attention until they were highlighted by Mohamad Tawhidi, an Australian Muslim cleric who holds decidedly anti-jihad views. As he tweeted on April 8,
Ilhan Omar mentions 9/11 and does not consider it a terrorist attack on the USA by terrorists, instead she refers to it as “Some people did something,” then she goes on to justify the establishment of a terrorist organization (CAIR) on US soil.
Tawhidi’s tweet got things rocking. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, the eye-patch-wearing war-hero-turned-Texas-Republican-Congressman, tweeted on April 9,
First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as “some people who did something.” Unbelievable.
Three days later, President Trump, never far from a rumble, tweeted out the videotape of Omar’s comments with the caption, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!”
WE WILL NEVER FORGET! pic.twitter.com/VxrGFRFeJM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
Needless to say, Trump’s involvement got more people into the arena. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez jumped in that same day, even drawing in a comparison to the Holocaust:
Members of Congress have a duty to respond to the President’s explicit attack today. @IlhanMN’s life is in danger. For our colleagues to be silent is to be complicit in the outright, dangerous targeting of a member of Congress.We must speak out. “First they came…”
And she attached to her a tweet a photograph of a famous quote engraved on the wall of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
One might point out that neither Crenshaw nor Trump attacked Omar; they simply pointed to words that she herself had said—with the videotape to prove it. And yet that point was obscured, at least for the moment, amidst the larger outrage over AOC’s invocation of the Holocaust, which took the tweet-war to a whole new level. Within half an hour, conservative pundit David Harsanyi responded:
This is just a shameful attempt to chill speech. It belittles both the real victims of 9/11 and the Holocaust.
For his part, Tawhidi, the man who started it all, sent out a tweet that dripped with sarcasm and irony about both AOC and Omar:
You are so bright you make the sun jealous. Only you could figure out a way to use the Holocaust to defend an anti-Semite who doesn’t even believe in the Holocaust.
By now, many top Democrats running for president—including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Julian Castro–rose to defend Omar and to blast Trump. Moreover, some of the younger radical Democrats in the House, such as Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, also weighed in, defending Omar—and, of course, blasting Trump.
So we can see: If you’re a would-be leader of the Democrats—either seeking the ’20 presidential nomination or simply hoping to be a national progressive leader—it’s obligatory to get in the Omar fight. That is, if you want to be the champion of the cutting-edge Social Justice Warriors, you’d better speak out on this hot-button topic.
Yet of course, there’s a difference between “national” Democrats and “local” Democrats—the latter being those Democrats who are simply seeking election or re-election to some lesser office. This category recognizes that Omar is not a good issue for them.
Interestingly enough, this category includes even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She herself represents a deep blue district that wouldn’t object to even the most vehement criticism of Trump, and yet Pelosi also has to think about all the Democrats who elected her to the speakership; after all, the House Democrats are scattered across 42 states, most of which Trump carried. With protection of them foremost in her mind, Pelosi was cautious in responding to Trump, tweeting merely,
The memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence. The President shouldn’t use the painful images of 9/11 for a political attack.
We can observe that Pelosi’s tweet is written in such a way as to seemingly defend Omar, but without mentioning her name. In other words, Pelosi defended the memory of 9/11, but not her House colleague.
Yet Pelosi’s caution then triggered the hard left. For instance, Andrew Lawrence, who works for David Brock’s lefty group, Media Matters, responded:
@SpeakerPelosi’s statement on Omar is one of the most politically cowardly things I’ve ever seen. Freaking embarrassing.
And there were plenty more jibes like that.
Yet if Pelosi was hushed in her reaction, other Democrats were stone silent. For instance, there’s Rep. Cheri Bustos, who represents a northwest Illinois district that Trump carried. As of April 13, her recent tweets concerned such topics as praise for her office’s official dog, a reiteration of the need for more robust flood infrastructure, and a friendly salute to a departing local sportscaster. Thus we can see: As far as Omar is concerned, Bustos is Not Going There.
Moreover, Bustos is also chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the national campaign arm of the House Democrats. And the DCCC Twitter account, while loudly voluble on issues such as healthcare, has been similarly silent on Omar.
As Vegetius would say, never plan to fight on weak ground. And yet as von Moltke would say, just because you plan it that way, that doesn’t mean that it will work out that way. Hence an unexpected—and for Democrats, unwanted—battle has been joined, and it’s all about Omar.
So will Pelosi, Bustos, and most other House Democrats be able to continue saying little or nothing about the embattled Somali-American lawmaker? Or will left-wing activists, duly enraged by the tweets of Trump and others—Crenshaw, to name one, obviously believes he’s on advantageous ground—force cautious Dems to take a stand in defense of a loud, and radical, Dem? Stay tuned.
Two months ago, this author posted a piece here at Breitbart News headlined, “The AOC-ization of the Democrats Boosts Trump in 2020.”
Now we’ve discovered something far more ominous for the Democrats: The Ilhan Omar-ization of the Democrats.