Today’s Conservatives Are Either Based Or Boxed; Which Are You?

This morning I have a column up at The American Spectator about President Trump’s Twitter storm from Sunday, in which Trump eviscerated – though not by name – the four members of The Squad, the hard-core female leftist Democrat House members who are stealing attention and, apparently, support away from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At the risk of being obnoxiously self-promoting, I’m going to suggest conservatives go and read it en masse.

If you don’t know what Trump said, you’re probably living under a rock. But in a series of tweets, he laid out the case specifically against Ilhan Omar but didn’t single her out – which meant his diatribe was taken as an attack on not just Omar but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib as well, and naturally Trump was excoriated as racist.

Here’s what Trump said…

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Because none of the four members of The Squad are considered “white” – AOC is Puerto Rican, Tlaib’s family is from Palestine, and Omar (a Somali immigrant) and Pressley, who was born in Cincinnati and grew up in Chicago, are black – this is evidence of racism on Trump’s part.

At least, according to the mainstream media and the Democrat Party, for whom virtually every utterance of a combative nature directed at people who are not “white” is considered racism.

Which, let’s remember, is a charge that had begun to be leveled against Pelosi, who now recognizes what a colossal liability The Squad has become for her as she attempts to preserve her Speakership – against both a Hard Left intraparty run at her leadership, and a potential Republican reconquest of the House in next year’s elections.

Last week Pelosi and AOC had come to verbal blows over efforts to rein in The Squad. Trump didn’t think that was such a great development, because what he wants, and rightly so, is no distance between the Democrats’ leadership and its Democratic Socialist hatchling congresscritters

And here is why. All last week House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was engaged in an aggressive campaign to shut The Squad up before they tore the Democrat caucus apart with their never-ending idiotic and vitriolic remarks. And why would Pelosi want to do that?

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line pointed out why. AOC and Omar, particularly, are becoming two of the best-known members of Pelosi’s caucus, and they are both becoming absolutely radioactive. To wit …

A May poll reportedly found that Ocasio-Cortez is profoundly unpopular in congressional districts throughout America. More than 74 percent of those surveyed recognized her name. Only 22 percent had a favorable view of her.

Ilhan Omar fared even worse. She was recognized by 53 percent, with only 9 percent holding a favorable view. Socialism was viewed favorably by 18 percent and unfavorably by 69 percent.

Chris White of the Daily Caller says Democratic leaders are concerned that with all the publicity Ocasio-Cortez and Omar generate, the party might lose the House. Ocasio-Cortez “is getting all the news and defining everyone else’s races,” one operative fretted.

Mirengoff wasn’t convinced that AOC and Omar would have that kind of effect on House races in swing districts. The guess here is that Trump and his brain trust shared that view. But on Sunday, an internal Democrat poll of swing districts leaked that shows Mirengoff, and perhaps Trump, might be wrong …

The poll showed that socialist Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) are extremely unpopular and that they may cost the Democratic Party the presidency and the House in 2020.

“Ocasio-Cortez was recognized by 74% of voters in the poll; 22% had a favorable view,” Axios reported. “Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — another member of The Squad — was recognized by 53% of the voters; 9% (not a typo) had a favorable view. …

“Socialism was viewed favorably by 18% of the voters and unfavorably by 69%,” Axios added, whereas “capitalism was 56% favorable; 32% unfavorable.”

The firm that conducted the poll gave the results to Axios on the condition that it not be named because it works “with all parts of the party.”

A top Democrat involved in the 2020 congressional races told Axios, “If all voters hear about is AOC, it could put the [House] majority at risk. [S]he’s getting all the news and defining everyone else’s races. Socialism is toxic to these voters.”

So what do you do if you want to ensure Omar and AOC poison those so-called moderate Democrats who won those swing House districts last year?

You force Pelosi into bed with them.

Which is precisely what Trump has done.

The Democrat leadership immediately, reflexively, lined up behind The Squad after an entire week of slapping them down. Al Green, a Democratic congressman from the slums of Houston, is now attempting to use Trump’s tweets as a fresh justification for impeachment, which is all Al Green does in Congress. There will be a House resolution condemning the president’s comments as racist, on which Pelosi has put her stamp of approval, and another seeking to formally censure Trump.

All of this is precisely what Trump wanted. And he proved it by doubling and then tripling down on his statements Monday, first unleashing a new set of tweets mostly quoting Lindsey Graham, who had partially rebuked the president for getting too personal about The Squad in his complaints, and then popping off in a Rose Garden press avail with comments directly eviscerating Omar in a way I can’t remember ever having seen a president do to a member of Congress. Which was glorious, by the way, and if you haven’t seen the video you owe it to yourself to watch it.

Don’t think for one second that Trump doesn’t absolutely love this fight. He is a pig in slop at this point. Trump will continue forcing Pelosi and her leadership team into bed with The Squad from here all the way to Election Day, and when he’s through he won’t just win reelection in a landslide but he’ll also take away every single one of those swing districts.

And Pelosi is either too reflexively anti-Trump or has too weak a hold on her caucus to counter him.

In short, the tweets were a brilliant move. They’ve fused together AOC and Pelosi, at least for now, based not on any particular agreement on principle or a meeting of the minds the two might find operative in the future, but on (1) pure animus toward Trump, which was present long before these tweets and didn’t stop the Democrats’ intraparty feud before, meaning it’s a matter of time before they fall out again, and (2) the Democrats’ never-ending infatuation with calling everything they don’t like racism.

Those are not bases from which a lasting peace will come. The alliance Trump has forced Pelosi into with her tormentors on the Hard Left won’t stand for very long, and Pelosi’s hand against The Squad has only weakened now that she’s had to drop her campaign against them.

The Democrats have been going after AOC’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, who is a complete loon and who got into a major spat last week over his characterization of the House passing of the border bill as perpetuating a “racist” system – and Rep. Sharice Davids, one of the Democrats who voted for the bill, was specifically called out by Chakrabarti.

It’s complete chaos in that camp, and Trump is only adding to the dysfunction by forcing Pelosi into bed with the nuttiest nuts in her caucus.

This is what happens when you simply reject being put in that box of nice, predictable, Marquis of Queensbury rule-abiding Republicans who won’t fight dirty against the Alinskyite Left. Trump is, to use a term of recent parlance, based – and he really doesn’t care what is said about him by people who have already called him all the nasty names it’s possible to call someone.

Trump is a departure from what we’re used to, which is Republican politicians who dare not exit the box. That’s true also of many conservative thought leaders.

Take, for example, National Review’s Jim Geraghty, who offered a completely myopic take on the exchange

There is an old maxim, sometimes attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte: Never interfere with the enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself. Sunday morning, President Trump chose to interfere, just as Democrats were in the process of destroying themselves.

Whether or not Donald Trump believes immigrants are not “real Americans” — the man did twice marry immigrants, after all — he certainly has no problem with making statements and arguments that feed into the notion that immigrants are not “real Americans.” He certainly seems to think that AOC, Tlaib, and Pressley have some sort of obligation to fix problems in the lands of their ancestors before attempting to change laws in the United States, and that Omar must do the same in a land she left when she was six years old. Or perhaps the way to interpret Trump’s remarks is that someone born in America to immigrant parents, like Ocasio-Cortez or Tlaib, doesn’t meet his personal definition of “real Americans.”

There’s a small mountain of legitimate gripes about AOC’s “squad.” Beside the “snot-nosed punk” traits driving other, more experienced Democrats crazy, Ocasio-Cortez and her allies have received far too little criticism for their theoretical fantasyland policy ideas, in which the United States can replace 88 percent of all of its energy sources in a decade and that in that same time period, all 120 million buildings in America can be either upgraded or torn down and replaced with more energy-efficient construction. They want economic security for those unwilling to work, an eventual ban on air travel, and for the Federal Reserve to loan the federal government $10 trillion.

In an act of political stupidity that is simply jaw-dropping, Trump manages to focus in on the least-legitimate lines of criticism, that these women supposedly come from some other country and that they are “loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.” They’re all elected members of Congress. Love them or hate them, they all legitimately won House races in heavily Democratic congressional districts. Each one has the same one vote out of 435 that every other member has.

At the exact moment that Democrats are realizing the toxicity of identity politics, Donald Trump endorses the notion that these women are defined by where they come from.

Not only did he attack the “squad,” he managed to do it in a way in which no other prominent Democrat can continue to criticize them publicly, lest they be perceived as echoing the president’s contention that they should go back where they came from. At the exact moment the accusations and counter-accusations were set to do lasting damage, Trump just had to jump in and give them an attack that would unify them all. It often seems like Trump would rather have a bad news cycle that focuses on him than a beneficial news cycle that focuses on someone else.

Trump could have and should have stayed quiet and let the Democratic infighting worsen and intensify. Failing that, it would have been easy to make a jab free of any xenophobia — something like, “Interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democratic congresswomen contending Nancy Pelosi is racist and that the Congressional Black Caucus doesn’t represent black voices. I’m sure Pelosi would be happy to send them on some long foreign trip to get them out of her hair and out of the headlines!”

Instead, Trump made a comment that unites Democrats of every stripe and reminds them of their primary objective in the 2020 cycle, winning back the White House. The biggest change from the 2014 and 2016 elections and the 2018 midterms is that the suburbs, and in particular, suburban women, recoiled from Trumpism. Trump fans can argue, “ignore the tweets, focus on his policies,” until they’re blue in the face. Significant numbers of voters in key demographics in key states aren’t willing to compartmentalize like that. Everyone around the president can read a poll and knows that his rage-tweeting is a liability; it is perhaps the biggest liability in a presidency that, with prosperity and a perception of peace, ought to be comfortably cruising to reelection.

That was The Box talking. And less than a day later Geraghty had to walk back his comments

On Sunday, Donald Trump gave the Democrats a gift — comments that indicate he thinks native-born congresswomen he detests should “go back” to the countries of their ancestors. On Monday, the four congresswomen handed Trump a gift in return, managing to respond to the president’s insults in some of the most politically self-destructive ways possible.

First, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota again called for impeaching President Trump during the press conference with the members of the “Squad” yesterday afternoon. The latest NBC News poll finds that just 21 percent of registered voters want the House to begin impeachment proceedings. With the Democratic presidential primary heating up, most Americans feel like they can see the 2020 presidential election off in the distance. To many Americans, including many of those critical of Trump, a certain-to-fail effort to remove the president from office right before the voters have their say on whether to give him a second term sounds like a ridiculous waste of time.

Separately, Al Green, Democrat from Texas, announced he would introduce articles of impeachment of Trump for his tweets. “The President of the United States is a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, as well as an invidious prevaricator,” Green said. “To say that Donald John Trump is unfit for the Office of the President of the United States is an understatement.” It’s easy to forget that this is the third time Green has done this, and the number of House Democrats willing to support impeachment is in the low 80s, well below the 217 needed.

Get it over with, House Democrats. Have the vote on impeachment. We all know this is going nowhere. Stop telling us what you’re going to do someday and as Betsy Ross flag-denouncing Colin Kaepernick would say, just do it.

Second, Omar also contended Trump “has been credibly accused of committing multiple crimes, including colluding with a foreign government to interfere with our election.” Did she miss the entire Mueller report? Or does she think that Trump did collude and that over 22 months, Robert Mueller and his whole team of investigators and prosecutors just missed the evidence?

Omar revealed that some Trump foes will never let it go, that they will never believe any exoneration, and that there is no need for evidence — at a press conference where the squad was denouncing Trump for making terrible accusations without evidence.

Third, some on the right are arguing that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez refused to denounce an attempted firebombing of the Tacoma immigration detention center. It’s probably more accurate to say she ignored the question. The attacker carried a rifle, attempted to light a propane tank, and set a car on fire; police shot and killed him.

The motive appeared to be anti-ICE, anti-immigration-enforcement terrorism:

Deb Bartley, a friend of Van Spronsen’s for about 20 years, described him as an anarchist and anti-fascist, and she believes his attack on the detention center was intended to provoke a fatal conflict.

“He was ready to end it,” Bartley said. “I think this was a suicide. But then he was able to kind of do it in a way that spoke to his political beliefs . . . I know he went down there knowing he was going to die.”

Still, any of the Squad’s members would be wise to denounce this attack, and as of this writing, they haven’t done so. I suspect they will only do so if they are specifically asked about it.

There is going to be a time when far more conservatives will be based than boxed. When that time comes our national political and cultural discussions might well become considerably rowdier, but they will be freer – and a lot more truth will be told.

Nothing Trump said in those tweets was “racist.” He never mentioned race. If you can’t criticize the things Ilhan Omar, who Trump made clear yesterday was the prime target of his statements, says and does and particularly her very obviously anti-American and anti-Semitic attitude, without being branded a racist then there is no logic, reason or liberty left in our national discussion.

Trump is betting most of the American people have had it with the nonstop accusations and, as Geraghty himself noted, the toxic identity politics. He’s betting correctly. The real question is whether folks like Geraghty are willing to see the process of hanging the Democrats with their own rope for what it is.

They haven’t learned yet. Perhaps they will.

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