SPECIAL JOINT STATEMENT FROM BULLMOOSE AND NEWDONKEYThe Moose and the Donkey are pleased to join hands–or more precisely, hooves–and express gratification that Ralph Reed is not going to become Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. Nor will Brother Reed, whose eyes were on much higher aspirations, hear the strains of “Hail to the Chief” unless he ponies up a few grand to attend some GOP fundraiser where the president is present.Verily, verily, Ralph Reed has discovered that the Proverb was prescient: pride goeth before the fall. Once among the highest and the mightiest in Republican councils, Reed could not win a low-turnout Republican primary in his adopted home state; indeed, state senator Casey Cagle wound up routing him by double digits.Allow the Donkey and the Moose to enjoy a little schadenfreude.The Moose does not fault brother Ralph for having been a leader in the religious right. There are many good and decent folks in the religious conservative movement. What the Moose faults Ralph for is his hypocrisy and crass cynicism as he reportedly exploited the good will of religious folks. Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff truly deserve each other. Ralph would have had us believe that he didn’t know what old Jack was up to. He was merely the piano player in the bordello of corruption. This claim gives a new meaning to the word chutzpah. Ralph is many things, but he is not stupid. And Abramoff was one of Ralph’s closest friends.The Donkey is from Georgia, and is relieved that even Republican primary voters could not bring themselves to ignore Reed’s distinctive history of combining money-grubbing, self-righteousness, and vicious political tactics. Sure, some Georgia Democrats liked the idea of running against Ralph right down to November. But even a temporary victory for Reed would have reinforced the cynical belief in GOP circles that no one will pay an electoral price for the scandals and corruption of the Bush Era–that voters really are dumb sheep waiting for the next opportunity to be shorn.As both the Moose and the Donkey acknowledge, Ralph Reed is an excellent salesman. But he couldn’t he sell himself with all his baggage to the voters of Georgia. He’s had his “accountability movement,” as the president might put it, and lost. Maybe this setback will begin Ralph’s road to redemption. But it’s good to know he won’t be driving down that road in a publicly owned vehicle.
TDS Strategy Memos
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By Ed Kilgore
After a week of efforts to equate the controversial remarks of two particular members of Congress, I pushed back a bit at New York:
It looks like House Republicans are going to deal with outrage over their perennial problem child Marjorie Taylor Greene by finding a Democrat to punish. That would be Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, according to Politico’s Huddle:
“’I think that Ilan should receive the same type of punishment as Marjorie because if it’s good for one, it is good for another,’ Rep. Maria Salazar (R-Fla.), who voted to remove Greene from her committees, told me. ‘Anti-semitism is the same thing as anti-semitism. It’s just that Nancy is afraid …'”
There are others who want to push for Omar’s removal as well as those looking to censure her over her war crimes remarks — and a few Dems may join them.
The idea of equating Omar’s complaints about unequal treatment of countries in investigating military misconduct with Greene’s comparisons of mask and vaccine requirements to the Holocaust is deeply satisfying to a lot of people. Republicans can continue their now-ancient habit of waving away extremism in their ranks by claiming it’s more prevalent on the other side of the aisle. Nervous centrist Democrats can document their nervous centrism by firing thunderbolts left and right. And most of all, accusing both parties of harboring those prone to “false equivalence” appeals to the false equivalence many Beltway media folks want to draw between Democrats and Republicans, who are engaged in the mutually assured destruction of partisan polarization.
There’s only one problem: Treating what MTG and Omar have said as equal expressions of false equivalence actually is false, as any honest evaluation of their words quickly shows. Greene bluntly compared COVID-19 precautions to the Holocaust, analogized vaccine documentation mandates to the Nazi practice of making Jews wear yellow stars, and, for good measure, said Democrats are like Nazis because they are “socialists.” Omar said this in the midst of a virtual exchange with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken over investigations of the brief but intense war between Israel and Hamas:
“’We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,’ she wrote. “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.’”
Her point wasn’t to say the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban were equally culpable in their commission of atrocities, but that all should be equally subject to international investigation. I suppose there are superpatriots who would dispute the idea that America has ever committed “unthinkable atrocities,” though the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear attacks, and of countless genocidal assaults on Native Americans, among many examples, suggest otherwise. But in any event, when challenged by Republicans and Democrats alike to make it clear she was not imputing equivalent culpability to these various nations and coalitions of fighters, Omar complied instantly:
“U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar said Thursday that she was ‘in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems … ‘
“’To be clear: the conversation was about accountability for specific incidents regarding [International Criminal Court] cases, not a moral comparison between Hamas and the Taliban and the U.S. and Israel.’”
MTG, meanwhile, kept doubling down on her comparisons of public-health measures with the slaughter of many millions by Nazi Germany, and finally, after more than three weeks and a tour of the Holocaust Museum, she issued an apology that betrayed little understanding of the full scope of the Holocaust, and then refused to apologize for the Democrat-Nazi analogy.
Looking more broadly at the two women and their records of controversial utterances, Ilhan made an unfortunate and erroneous reference to “the Benjamins,” in a gratuitous comment about support for Israel in the United States, for which she “unequivocally” apologized:
“Anti-semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be able to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
Greene lost her committee assignments earlier this year after media focus on an almost incredible blizzard of incendiary statements she made on social media before coming to Congress (barely anyone even noticed her practice of brandishing an AR-15 when discussing her enemies in campaign ads). In February, she apologized for claiming that school shootings were fake and for promoting QAnon conspiracy theories. She never apologized for happily contemplating violence against congressional Democrats (including, very specifically, Ilhan Omar) and the Speaker of the House, or for her unusually aggressive support of Trump’s electoral big lie and the effort in January to overturn the presidential election results, or for her own subscription to very weird anti-Semitic claims.
If you cannot discern a qualitative difference between Omar’s “outrages” and Greene’s, and between the speed and coherence of their clarifications and apologies, it may be time for some remedial work in logic and rhetoric. These two members of Congress aren’t alike at all, and as much as I sometimes disagree with Ilhan Omar, treating her as a left-wing MTG is lazy and just plain wrong.