The Washington Post would like you to know that the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives has degenerated into open gang warfare, and that they'll be very lucky if they all come out of all this success alive. Just read this account of the "explosion" of bloody mayhem.
House Democrats exploded in recriminations Thursday over moderates bucking the party, with liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatening to put those voting with Republicans “on a list” for a primary challenge. In a closed-door session, a frustrated Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashed out at about two dozen moderates and pressured them to get on board.
“We are either a team or we’re not, and we have to make that decision,” Pelosi said, according to two people present but not authorized to discuss the remarks publicly. But Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class, upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activists unseat them in the 2020 election.
Triggering the blowup were Wednesday’s votes on a bill to expand federal background checks for gun purchases. Twenty-six moderate Democrats joined Republicans in amending the legislation, adding a provision requiring that ICE be notified if an illegal immigrant seeks to purchase a gun.
We all should be accustomed by now to the Dems In Disarray template. (Note the perpetual binary by which the caucus is divided into "liberals" and "moderates." Conservative Democrats apparently do not exist.) But the apocalyptic prose here has been dialed up to 11.
The Democratic infighting reflects a fractured caucus and diverse freshman class, with dozens of moderates elected in districts that President Trump won in 2016 at odds with hard-charging liberals. The split has exposed divisions among Pelosi and her top lieutenants, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.), over the party strategy to keep its newfound majority.
Republicans have capitalized on the divide, using legislative tactics to split politically vulnerable moderates from the party leadership. In the coming months, votes on health care, the environment and spending bills could cause more extreme breaks in the Democratic ranks.
Oh, those genius Republicans with their "legislative tactics." You'd hardly know that, as recently as two months ago, their majority was being led around by the nose by the collection of clowns and mountebanks that was on full display in the committee room on Wednesday. But there are a couple of interesting questions buried there amid the battlefield reporting.
First, is it time yet to wonder whether "districts Trump won" is an accurate metric by which to judge the ideological makeup of a congressional district, let alone a proper basis on which a congresscritter should vote? What if, in many of these places, the Trump election was a fluke? What if the Trump vote was not ideological in the least but, rather, a desire to hock a loogie at the current political situation, the personal economic circumstances of millions of voters, the dreaded libtard hordes, and everything that's gone wrong from the mill leaving town to your mother-in-law's pot roast? What if the unprecedented confluence of events and circumstances that produced this administration* can't be duplicated, even by the president* whom it installed in the White House?
Second, it's important to note that, in this case, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has lined up against the Blue Dogs. This is because Pelosi is no fool, and she knows that, while the Blue Dogs may believe they're being clever, they're really being played for suckers. Do they honestly believe that tacking an ICE-friendly amendment onto the first genuine gun-control bill to emerge from the House in years will immunize them against the inevitable deluge of attack ads that portray them as being kale-gobbling gun-grabbers in 2020? If they were opposed to the bill because they thought it bad policy, or even if they simply thought it would cost them re-election, they should have voted against the bill. Middling the question with an amendment is just cowardly.
Is the Democratic caucus unruly? Of course it is. Is it going to break down into the familiar categories with which the elite political press has grown so comfortable? Unlikely. Pelosi is sharp enough to know that the political ground has shifted.
Several are also pushing to reform or eliminate the procedural tactic that has prompted the uproar - the “motion to recommit,” which essentially gives the minority party one final opportunity to amend a bill moments before it comes up for a final vote. Pelosi trained much of her closed-door frustrations on veteran lawmakers, noting that some held seats on coveted committees.
“What is this?” she asked, according to the aides. Later, when one lawmaker talked about the peril of persistently voting with party leaders on these motions, Pelosi responded that the party stood ready to help team players: “We have a massive MASH operation and, frankly, it should be there for those who have the courage to take the vote.”
Party discipline is not for the squeamish.
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