Last week I wrote about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Someone contacted me to tell me that they were born on that very day, July 20, 1969, at the time Neil Armstrong was stepping onto the moon. He stepped onto the moon at 10:56 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, more than six and a half hours after they landed on the moon.
This past week there has been extensive coverage of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and the return to Earth of the astronauts of Apollo 11. Fifty years ago the country was divided, and yet for a few days the country was united. For example, there was a great division about United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. Those on the right frequently would say to those criticizing our country, “Love it or leave it.”
Fifty years have passed, and the country is again divided. Unfortunately, presently there does not seem to be a common goal such as going to the moon that will unite us.
Months ago, when there was a dispute about how to deal with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., I said we in the Jewish community should ignore them. If you attack them, you are making them more important. I also thought that, with them, you let them keep on talking and they will keep saying foolish things. Let them sink themselves.
They are outliers in the Democratic Party and the establishment will do what they need to keep them in line. The three are very unpopular. They hurt the Democratic Party in states that they need to win in order to take back the presidency and keep control of the House of Representatives.
These three along with Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., refer to themselves as “The Squad.” Creating a catchy name is another example of their ability to create a persona that gives them media attention.
The recent flareup started with Speaker Nancy Pelosi mentioning that The Squad, who voted against the immigration funding bill, are only four votes.
Their reaction included a tweet by Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff that “instead of ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal,’ let’s call the New Democrats and Blue Dog Caucus the ‘New Southern Democrats.’ They certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.” She did not repudiate the chief of staff’s tweet.
That brought a stern rebuke by the Speaker. They also tried to use the race card when being criticized by fellow Democrats. That also did not go over well with members of the Black Caucus. Everything was going the way that the Jewish community would want until the President decided he had to chime in.
The Speaker’s response was not good for Trump because it showed that these four women are a fringe element and the moderates are in control.
Trump in response made comments so outlandish that he forced the Democratic Party to defend them. Now he can argue that these four women are the face of the party. It has worked to perfection. The House of Representatives passed a resolution that Trump made racist comments.
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!”
He could have just argued that their comments were improper, including that they are anti-Semitic. He could have argued that their ideas are horrible. However, that would not have gotten the reaction he wanted of having the Democratic Party come to their defense.
A few days later, at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, while Trump was attacking Omar, the crowd chanted: “Send her back.” The president stopped and said nothing for 13 seconds while the chant continued. This is the 2019 version of the 1960s “America: Love it or leave it.” However, now people look at the comments as having racial overtones.
This is bad for the Jewish community. Trump is building up The Squad for his own political purposes while the women are self-promoting themselves. In other words, Trump and The Squad are on the same side when it relates to them becoming more important and powerful members in the Democratic Party. Also, Trump by his over-the-top comments are making these women into sympathetic figures.
I do not think it is mere coincidence that Omar has announced that she plans to visit Israel, and Rashid is more vocal in addressing anti-BDS legislation. These women are now emboldened by Trump’s attack. Israel’s government is in a catch- 22 situation with Omar. If they keep her out it is going to be a public relations nightmare. The anti-Israel crowd will argue that this is an example of Israel’s racist conduct if it does not allow a sitting United States member of Congress to visit. On the other hand, if they let her into the country, I expect she is going to go to places in an attempt to claim that Israel is harming the Palestinians and the Ethiopians. She will receive extensive news coverage.
I do not expect much to change before the 2020 presidential election. Trump has clearly indicated that this is going to be his strategy. The Squad is going to continue to self-promote. The best we can hope for is that the media becomes focused on other issues and/or the Democratic Party leadership goes back to its game plan to limit the reach of The Squad. It will be interesting to see if The Squad is brought up at the Democratic presidential debates. Bernie Sanders has already embraced them. Let’s hope that the others make a nuanced argument that you can agree that they make improper comments but yet you cannot tell them to go back to where they came from.
Trump is transactional. It is all about what is best for him. Hopefully he will not take any further action that may help him but will hurt our community and Israel.