I'm hard pressed to see how the past 100 days didn't give House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a drinking problem, but if her "60 Minutes" interview from Sunday night is any indication, she's holding herself together well, even if she can't keep a Democratic civil war from burning down the House. Here she is trying to shrug off the three freshmen who have already set the House agenda and embroiled their party in controversies over anti-Semitism. They are, she says, "like, five people."
.@SpeakerPelosi downplays @AOC’s wing of the Democratic Party in Congress as “like, five people.”pic.twitter.com/RYAYMvjPQ6— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) April 15, 2019
Pelosi isn't wrong, at least in that the freshman class of Democrats in Congress is the largest since Watergate, and the overwhelming majority of them are moderates, many from purple districts. The centrist New Democrat Coalition comprises nearly half of the House Democratic caucus, and the budget hawk Blue Dog Coalition saw their membership expand from 18 seats to 27. And as I outlined last week, recent polling indicates that the overwhelming majority of Americans reject progressive pet projects such as legalizing third trimester abortion and abolishing private health insurance.
But in Pelosi's House, "like, five" inmates are running the asylum.
One of Pelosi's much maligned "five people," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., bamboozled six senators running for the presidency into co-sponsoring the Green New Deal — a nonbinding resolution which would cost $93 trillion and abolish not only air travel but also nuclear power. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the spooked senators' bluffs and forced a vote on the Senate floor. Not a single Democrat voted for it. The co-sponsors of the resolution now all look like fools, and they have "Speaker Ocasio-Cortez" to thank.
Amid plummeting public support from the nation's Democrats to impeach President Trump, Pelosi has carefully worked to quell House fervor to vote on DOA impeachment charges. Yet one of the "like, five," Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. — also the first member of Congress to call for the outright annihilation of the state of Israel — is still making the cable news rounds to push her impeachment resolution.
And surely no one's caused Pelosi more of a headache than Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who in the last 100 days has found herself embroiled in controversy for claiming that AIPAC and the Jews use their shekels to control Congress. She has charged American Jews who support Israel with holding dual "allegiance" to "a foreign country." She has also called the succession by the globally recognized interim president of Venezuela, progressive Juan Guaido, a "U.S. backed coup" to "install a far right opposition." She has laughed on video at American fear of al Qaeda and equated the terrorist organization to the United States military. She has been caught on tape referring to 9/11 as "some people did something" while fundraising for the Hamas-linked organization CAIR. As with her anti-Semitic comments, she has also doubled down on this.
Pelosi began her second speakership calling Trump's shutdown bluff and scoring the greatest victory over him during his entire presidency thus far. She's sharp as a tack and just as ruthless as she was when she rammed Obamacare through the House and down the throats of a public that didn't want it. Left to her own volition, she can effectively troll Trump into political owns and run an opposition party more in line with the American people than the party in power.
But instead, she's handed over the reins to "like, five" economically illiterate neophytes who witlessly deliver the Republican Party endless fodder, and potentially the 2020 election.
Over at the Atlantic, David Frum expertly distills the Democratic Party's problem with Omar specifically:
It cannot be pleasant for Omar’s colleagues to have to wonder and worry what that next remark will be—knowing that Donald Trump and his Twitter feed will be waiting to blame all Democrats for the provocations of one. But by not putting themselves on record about Omar when they could, Democrats now find themselves bound to her for the duration. This problem will get worse, and its political consequences will become ever more costly for Democrats who want to win national elections and govern the country.
Pelosi's petty shade is satisfying to watch, but when push comes to shove, she's completely and utterly failed at nipping the Democratic Party's escalating flirtation with anti-Semitism, dalliances with foreign adversaries and refusal to denounce terrorism, embrace of socialism, and wholesale rejection of economic reality.
"I do reject socialism as an economic system," Pelosi told "60 Minutes." "If people have that view, that's their view. That is not the view of the Democratic Party."
Pelosi may be correct that it's not the view of the majority of the Democrats in the House and the country as a whole, but between the media and the public meltdowns from like, five people in Congress, the narrative has escaped her.
Pelosi may say she recognizes Guaido as Venezuela's rightful president, but Omar still inexplicably sits on the prestigious House Foreign Affairs Committee even after rejecting the will of the Venezuelan people. Pelosi may say she opposes socialism, but Ocasio-Cortez still sits on the House Financial Services Committee. Pelosi may say she abhors Omar's anti-Semitic rhetoric, but she still allowed like, five people to dilute a resolution denouncing Omar's anti-Semitic rhetoric to the point that it became a mockery.
And Pelosi still poses on magazine covers with them, of course.
Pelosi has two options: buck up and take back her party, or just hand 2020 to the Republicans.