The Briefing, Vol. VII, Issue 10: March 11, 2019
- Democrats’ anti-Semitism problem
- The right year for Howard Schultz?
- The wrong year for Bloomberg
Republican gains: It may not mean much, but with their pickup of a state Senate seat in Eastern Kentucky, Republicans have now stolen away four Democratic state legislative seats in special elections so far this year, losing none in the meantime. Other wins have come in Connecticut and Minnesota.
They may not mean much, but such special election victories pointed in the 2018 cycle toward a strong year for the opposition party. This time, they may signify a bit of a bounce-back by Republicans after the drubbing they received in November. What’s more, after Virginia Democrats’ blackface debacle, the 2019 legislative elections in the Commonwealth could be promising.
The Kentucky seat came in the historically Democratic eastern part of the state, which was one of President Trump’s strongest areas. The outcome of races like these are obviously of limited value in predicting the future. But it underscores the idea that in pro-Trump areas, support for Trump can become transferable to support for other Republican candidates.
If the GOP can improve its performance in pro-Trump areas, and do a bit less badly in the suburban areas where they did so badly in 2018, there could be some hope for the party in 2020.
The Omar Incident: In recent weeks, Democrats showed poor political judgment by allowing socialistic freshmen in the House to set their agenda. But last week, they did much worse than that. They showed a true moral failing with their inability to call out and condemn anti-Semitism in their own ranks.
In discussing this issue, it must be said first of all that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. Yes, many pro-Israel conservatives are sure to disagree with (mostly) liberal complaints over the Netanyahu government or West Bank settlements. But people of good will can disagree on such issues without disparaging anyone.
In fact, Americans have quite varied ideas about the Middle East. and although there are clear conservative and liberal tendencies, they don’t always split cleanly along ideological lines. People of all ideological persuasions differ as to how to handle Iran’s threat to Israel, or how to settle the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. And good-faith disagreements over these matters are not at all indications of anti-Semitism.
The same cannot be said, however, of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and her rhetoric about American Jews supportive of Israel as money-grubbing dual loyalists who have “hypnotized the world” and purchased the support of the U.S. Congress in a behind-the-scenes conspiracy. This rhetoric is overtly anti-Semitic. This was the reason Democratic leaders responded to with such obvious concern from the outset.
At first, they seemed to be handling things. Then it all fell apart.
The week started off well enough. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had brought a resolution to the floor indirectly rebuking Omar for her anti-Semitic comments — the second such resolution for Omar in just the first two months of her career in Congress.
Then the intersectional Left got involved, deciding that Omar, the little lamb, was being unfairly targeted. The excuses they made for her reeked of the idea that this 40-year-old member of the U.S. House is but a child. It was
One Democrat after another — including key presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris — began excusing Omar’s rhetoric. And before you knew it, House Democrats had delayed and then diluted the resolution. Instead of a resolution against anti-Semitism, prompted by Omar, the House was voting on a resolution condemning the oppression (and supposed oppression) of every imaginable aggrieved group.
Democrats and their allies in the media can dress this up any way they like — it is what it is. And it means something, given all of the Democrats’ complaints about President Trump “emboldening” anti-Semitism before the 2018 election. Those now appear to be little more than a mere self-serving and partisan complaint. And Jews supportive of Israel who vote Democrat — most of them, likely — have new reasons for concern that the Democratic Party of 2010 never gave them.
Meanwhile, Democrats’ expressions of concern for anti-Semitism now appear to go just about as far as their political self-interest — no further.
Democrats should be concerned with their party’s current lurch in this direction. In Britain, the lurch toward anti-Semitism appears to be tearing the Labour Party apart. Democrats are still far from that point, but it isn’t an unthinkable future. It may seem like a trendy, “intersectional” and politically correct thing to let Omar and her allies run amok, but it leads to a barren political future, at best.
Howard Schultz: Democrats and their partisans are furious at the possibility that Schultz, the liberal former Starbucks executive, might run as an independent. As they see it, he can only split the vote on the Left, helping re-elect President Trump.
But with Democrats taking such an increasingly left-wing posture, and with Trump as unpopular as he is, it’s not difficult to understand why Schultz would consider such a run in 2020. As Schultz has pointed out recently, it is a Democratic radical, and not himself, who most clearly threatens to get Trump re-elected.
Yes, perhaps it’s hard to imagine a path by which an independent candidate like Schultz reaches an Electoral College majority. No third-party candidate has ever accomplished much. But just a few short years ago, people would have said that about novice politicians coming from the business world. Then Trump won. Never say never.
Michael Bloomberg: For all the potential excitement that he — or rather his money — could have brought to the Democratic primary, the former New York City mayor announced last week that 2020 won’t be the year he runs. It stands to reason.
For all his leftist campaigning on gun control, Bloomberg still isn’t left-wing enough for today’s Democratic Party. He’s too white and too male, and he made a fortune in the financial sector. He is also too far to the left to take up the moderate side of the race, which at this point seems destined to be the property of Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., or, in the highly unlikely event that he doesn’t run, perhaps of former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.