The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

It was certainly no slip of the tongue when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cut a small group of her party’s radicals to size. “All these people have the public whatever and their Twitter world,” she told The New York Times. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”

The issue at hand was the $4.6 billion border bill passed by Congress. The “squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — considered it inadequate for protecting migrant children. Pelosi argued that it was the strongest bill they could get passed.

It was totally predictable that the four would go bananas over this questioning of their real power. Pelosi had stuck a pin in their balloon of self-importance, and with it, the myth of their immense following — outside Twitter, that is.

Speaking in their defense, Hillary Clinton’s former spokesman Brian Fallon said, “Those freshman members are breaking through, and they’re building a movement, and the more power that movement gains, the more persuasive they will be to Pelosi.” OK, Brian, when they have eight members, give us a ring.

But even if their number were to double to eight, the squad would still be a small fraction of the House’s 235-member Democratic caucus. Some 30 of the newly elected Democrats took seats in Republican-leaning districts, which is where the party’s “energy” really is. What’s the big deal about winning in totally safe Democratic districts?

Of course, every Democratic member has the right to dissent or challenge what he or she sees as party orthodoxy. But Pelosi seems to be drawing the line at posturing considered poisonous to the party’s prospects. That would include proposals seen as encouraging illegal immigration and nonstop appeals to ethnic and racial identity.

Still more aggravating are their threats to “primary” Democrats they do not deem to be sufficiently obedient. (For all their obsession with diversity, some of the squad’s targets are black and Latino representatives.)

If these women are so unhappy with the Democratic Party, why don’t they leave and run for reelection as democratic socialists? But they would never do that. For all their pitching of socialism — whatever they mean by that — they know that they can’t win on the democratic socialist line. (Note how Sen. Bernie Sanders routinely slips in and out of Democratic affiliation to ensure that when it’s time to vote, there’s a D after his name.)

Working against efforts to contain these egos is a branch of the liberal media that inflates the importance of their every mood swing. To these reporters, all the important stuff happens on Twitter, which makes their jobs extremely easy. And if the attention-seeking tweets inflame the folks at Fox News, so much the better. Meanwhile, the hard work of other Democrats goes unnoticed.

Bear in mind that almost all these Democrats qualify as progressives. The characterization of these conflicts as liberals versus conservative moderates is lazy and unsophisticated. Until recently, Republicans portrayed Pelosi as a wild-eyed liberal from San Francisco. Her views have not radically changed.

Democrats have an opportunity in 2020 to bring home independents, never-Trumpers, and no-longer-Trumpers. In doing so, they may be forced to choose between these new potential Democratic voters and appeasing some on the radical left.

That may risk another leftist attempt at sabotage similar to the Ralph Nader debacle in 2000. Back then, the left was so dissatisfied with the Democratic candidate, that famous right-winger Al Gore, it sent enough votes to Nader to hand the election to George W. Bush.

Now is the time to tell the furious four to play fair or go pound sand. Stay strong, Speaker Pelosi. American civilization is at stake.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com.To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Keep reading... Show less

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}