On MSNBC, WashPost Columnists Defend Omar: ‘Not Great Look’ for ‘White Male’ GOP to Criticize

The media spent Tuesday morning rushing to Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar’s aid, after she was criticized from both parties for making an anti-Semitic comment on Twitter, (not her first.) Politico first ran a story praising Omar as a “superstar villain” for the right, while MSNBC took that headline and ran a segment about it on MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin, trying to spin the Democrat scandal as a problem for Republicans.

Guests, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne and opinion writer Jennifer Rubin weighed in, as host Craig Melvin recited the Politico piece, which weirdly argued Republicans can’t criticize Omar’s bigoted statements because she is both a woman and a minority:

“A new Politico headline reads ‘Superstar freshman Dems replace Pelosi as GOP targets.’ It goes on to point out, ‘The strategy risks backlash for a party that's struggling to find support from women and people of color,’” Melvin read.

Briefly rehashing Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s recent aplogies as well, Melvin simply called the three freshman Democrats' controversial comments “headaches” for Republicans. Guest E.J. Dionne, however, praised Democrats for condemning Omar’s anti-Semitic comments. But if Republicans did the same thing, they would be making a “boogeyman” out a “young woman," he complained:

[T]he idea that the Republicans would use three women is just not a great look for them. Three younger women is not a great look for them. But I think we have to bear in mind that historically, there have always been so-called or real left wing boogeymen, now women for Republicans.

Setting aside the Virginia Democrats scandal that hasn’t been dealt with yet, Melvin actually asked if Democrats were “better” at addressing controversies within their own party. Fellow guest and fake conservative Jennifer Rubin assured him they were, slamming the “white male, Southern” GOP as taking “dog whistles” from President Trump to silence complaints about discrimination:

 

 

I actually think that Democrats are much much better and much much quicker to do it. It's for a very simple reason. Republicans both in the makeup in congress and in the constituency has become the party of white, mostly male, in a good many senses, southern party. They are the inheritors, if you will, of the people who used to be Dixiecrats in the South. The Democrats as you see from this amazing diversity in Congress, are a much more far reaching party. And so when they have an anti-Semitic comment, you've got 10, 12 Jewish congressmen to come forward. If there's an anti-black incident, as there was in this horrible series of events in my state of Virginia, you have enormous pressure from both within and without. The sad fact is that the Republican party now relies upon wolf whistles and dog whistles and all sorts of signals to its base. They are very loathe sometimes to criticize discrimination. Of course, they have a president who sits atop their party, who sits in the White House, who every day is a fount of anti-women, anti-black, anti-immigrant rhetoric and so for them it gets to be much much more difficult.

Yet again, the media finds a way to turn a Democrat scandal into a Republican problem.

Read the transcript below:

CRAIG MELVIN: A new Politico headline reads “Superstar freshman Dems replace Pelosi as GOP targets.” It goes on to point out, “The strategy risks backlash for a party that's struggling to find support from women and people of color.” Republicans are hoping that these congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ilhan Omar will help them rally their base heading into 2020 I'm joined by a Washington Post columnist, and Washington Post opinion writer and MSNBC contributor, Jennifer Rubin. The piece that I just referenced goes on to say it is a move born out of desperation. House Democrats have their ultimate nemesis in president Donald Trump who has proven to be the best fundraising foils in U.S. history. Speaker Pelosi, the favorite target for Republicans as recently as three months ago. Given her effectiveness, you could say as the leader of her party right now, compared to what we've seen, is this a smart move to shift the focus to these newcomers?

JENNIFER RUBIN: I don’t know that it's going to be work. So I suppose it's not smart. I would assume about 1% of these people know who these people are. You and I know who AOC is but most people don't. As far as freshman congress people from districts far from where you live most people people would draw a blank. I'm not sure it's going to be all that effective. What's more, we're entering already a presidential primary season and those people are soon going to be seen as the primary figures in the democratic party. It's quite a testament however to Nancy Pelosi that she's no longer useful to the Republicans as a foil. Probably because she's beating Trump at his own game.

CRAIG MELVIN: These congresswomen, in addition to grabbing the spotlight, they've also created some headaches for leadership as well. Congresswoman Talib as you know, was caught on video shouting about impeaching the president, calling him an expletive. She later apologized for the distraction as she put it. Yesterday congresswoman Omar was forced to issue an apology for anti-Semitic tweets after being roundly criticized by Democrats and Republicans. And the aforementioned AOC arguably beating the president on his own game. She apologized to the president's son on 60 minutes if he felt threatened by a tweet about subpoena power. Is this case of these three E.J., just being new to the spotlight?

E.J. DIONNE: I think some of that is certainly that. I think I would separate out the controversy over representative Omar. It was important for the Democrat leadership to condemn any traces of anti-Semitism just as it would be important to condemn racism or anti-Muslim prejudice. I'm glad she apologized. That needs to be separated out. The idea that the Republicans would use three women is just not a great look for them. Three younger women is not a great look for them. But I think we have to bear in mind that historically, there have always been so-called or real left wing boogie men, now women for Republicans.

Richard Nixon built his political career at the beginning attacking a congressman called Vito Marcantonio who was a left wing congressman from New York City. Just like AOC is. And he tried to tie all his opponents to Marcantonio when he ran for congress and the senate way back when. Ted Kennedy's name was invoked regularly in the Republican mailings. They always raised a lot of money off them and then they did it to Pelosi. I think this is a kinda weird guilt by association. I don't think it works very well. I think the risks they run with these particular members, young and female, are very, very high for them.

MELVIN: You two point out -- you make an excellent point. While these foils may not necessarily resonate with average voters, they are quite effective at helping both parties raise funds. Jennifer Rubin in your piece you point out that Democrats ability to rebuke one of their own, following Congressman Omar’s tweet. You mentioned Speaker Pelosi's hammer coming down with a statement on behalf of the entire house leadership which actually led to Congresswoman Omar’s apology as we understand it. Do you get the sense that Dems are better handling this kind of stuff than Republicans, or do you get the sense that both parties’ leadership have become quite astute at this kind of thing?

JENNIFER RUBIN: I actually think that Democrats are much much better and much much quicker to do it. It's for a very simple reason. Republicans both in the makeup in congress and in the constituency has become the party of white, mostly male, in a good many senses, southern party. They are the inheritors, if you will, of the people who used to be Dixiecrats in the South. The Democrats as you see from this amazing diversity in Congress, are a much more far reaching party. And so when they have an anti-Semitic comment, you've got 10, 12 Jewish congressmen to come forward. If there's an anti-black incident, as there was in this horrible series of events in my state of Virginia, you have enormous pressure from both within and without. The sad fact is that the Republican party now relies upon wolf whistles and dog whistles and all sorts of signals to its base. They are very loathe sometimes to criticize discrimination. Of course, they have a president who sits atop their party, who sits in the White House, who every day is a font of anti-women, anti-black, anti-immigrant rhetoric and so for them it gets to be much much more difficult.

 

NB Daily 2018 Congressional Race Issues Racism Religion Islam Judaism MSNBC Other MSNBC Washington Post Jennifer Rubin Craig Melvin E. J. Dionne Ilhan Omar
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