Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Omar Is Ousted

It took an extra day to get around to it, but yesterday, House Republicans did as expected and voted to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. It was essentially a party line vote, with 218 Republicans supporting the move and 211 Democrats opposing it. Only Rep. David Joyce (R-OH), who voted "present" bucked the trends.

The official reason for booting Omar is that she has made critical-of-Israel statements in the past that were deemed (by some) to be antisemitic. The person writing this, namely (Z), is not Jewish, and so does not feel especially comfortable judging exactly how offensive Omar's words were. Nonetheless, it is hard to take seriously this alleged cause of action, for several reasons:

We thus conclude that Omar's statements about Israel are just a red herring, and that she is being removed for other reasons. The other two scapegoats, Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell (both D-CA), were punished because they were leading enemies of Donald Trump. And Omar is, well, an avatar for the enemies of America, as far as much of the base is concerned. She's a woman, a minority, an immigrant and a Muslim. There is plenty of bigotry directed at all four of those groups among some (or even many) members of the MAGA crowd. After all, Trump first ran for president primarily on his hatred of brown immigrants, with hatred of Muslims (including the "Muslim" Barack Obama) a close second.

Obviously, our assessment that this whole thing isn't about antisemitism, and is really just a massive dog whistle, is not some sort of profound insight unique to us. To take one example, among many, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) addressed the House yesterday, after the vote, and declared:

There is nothing consistent with the Republican Party's continued attack, except for the racism and incitement of violence against women of color in this body. This is about targeting women of color in the United States of America.

AOC received a thunderous round of applause from her Democratic colleagues after these remarks.

Ultimately, the big story here is this: The extremists in the Republican coalition continue to call the shots, and the alleged moderates continue to fall in line. By hook or by crook, McCarthy and his leadership team managed to whip every GOP vote except one. This despite the fact that at least two Republican members, Ken Buck (CO) and Mike Simpson (ID), were caught afterward badmouthing the move, with the former describing it as the "stupidest" move he's seen in a while, and the latter warning that the Republicans just made Omar into "a martyr." The duo then begged reporters not to repeat those remarks, though obviously the request was not honored.

It's possible that McCarthy and the more moderate Republicans are just paying the bills from the Speaker's election, and that the day will come when the House does something other than kowtow to the demands of the MAGA 20. But there's no sign, as yet, that such a day is imminent, or even that it's ever going to come. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates