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Playing a bad hand

Jerry Nadler, Ilhan Omar, and their press enablers

Playing a bad hand

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP)

Our major political parties are like cracker boxes covered with as many endorsements as the shirts of NASCAR drivers. Democrats claim to be non-GMO and gluten-free. Republicans claim to be nutrient-dense and filled with protein. But both parties have “tells” like the ones poker players discern. Since some WORLD readers think I’ve been tough on President Trump, I’ll focus on two Democratic “tells” of the past two weeks. 

Tell #1 comes via Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who has served in the House of Representatives since 1992 and now chairs its Judiciary Committee. He once displayed 338 pounds on his 5-foot-4 frame, but stomach surgery lost him half of the poundage. He’s apparently trying to make up for lost weight by ordering 81 individuals to produce tons of documents for potential use in Trump impeachment proceedings. 

The committee’s ranking Republican, Doug Collins of Georgia, said Nadler’s demand runs “afoul of nearly 150 years of Supreme Court precedent and over 200 years of oversight conducted by this committee.” That’s true concerning Judiciary, but Congress for four decades had a committee with procedures that Nadler seems to be imitating. 

The name of that committee became infamous among liberals: the House Un-American Activities Committee. HUAC’s famous question was: “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Many Democrats didn’t like that, since in the 1930s and ’40s some of them had agitated alongside those further to the left. In 1959 former President Harry S. Truman called HUAC the “most un-American thing in the country today.” 

A decade later HUAC investigated the farcical left-wing group known as the yippies. Its co-leader, Jerry Rubin, once testified while dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier, but he mixed his metaphors by blowing massive gum bubbles while his colleagues offered Nazi salutes. At other times Rubin appeared before HUAC in a Viet Cong flag shirt and a Santa Claus costume. 

The House finally killed HUAC in 1975. Now, though, Nadler is acting like former HUAC chairmen Martin Dies and Parnell Thomas. That’s Tell #1: The liberal complaint was and is not so much about HUAC’s search-and-destroy style but about who the searchers were and what they destroyed. Hint to Republicans forced to testify: Rent the uniforms of 1776 from a costume store and pass out copies of the Declaration of Independence. 

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Ilhan Omar (left) speaks to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at a Democratic rally outside the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue state: Tell #2 comes through new Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. She matched the tons of free publicity handed to another newbie, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., by issuing anti-Semitic remarks such as “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” (Translation: Jewish-Americans only care about $100 bills.)   

Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats knew Omar’s crude comments were a problem, so their wordsmiths developed a resolution that started out condemning anti-Semitism, but mutated into a vague pro-harmony, anti-hate declaration with just about every group thrown in, including Pacific Islanders. The only thing missing was a declaration that “we love our grand old flag.”

Politico Magazine then profiled Omar and quoted her criticism of not only Trump but his predecessors, apparently including Barack Obama: Trump’s “policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was, [but] we don’t want anyone to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”

Here’s a 30-second timeout for some free instruction in journalism. WORLD trains its young reporters to stay low on the “ladder of abstraction” by emphasizing human interest and specific detail rather than grand theoretical concepts. Say “he drove a gray 2015 Ford Fiesta,” not “he drove an automobile” or “he arrived via locomotion.” Say “third-trimester baby,” not “fetus” or “product of conception.” Report at street level, not suite level.

By that common journalistic goal, Politico should not have merely quoted Omar speechifying about those who “struggle with our broken infrastructure, they struggle with having an economy that brings them into the 21st century.” Politico should have pushed for specifics: If Omar was talking about roads, was she saying we should fill potholes? By bringing us into modern times, was she saying we should all tweet more? That’s Tell #2: Not only the Democratic Party but its media allies are slouching toward socialism. Don’t expect liberal reporters to ask hard questions about the new Democratic radicalism. 

Well, I’m trying to enter the 21st century. During the 14 days that concluded on March 12 I tweeted the good, the bad, and the odd. On the good side, a teenager saved for two years to buy his friend an electric wheelchair. Also, when a student at Morehouse College couldn’t find a baby sitter for his 5-month-old daughter, he brought her to his algebra class. Professor Nathan Alexander offered to hold little Assata so the student could take notes. Alexander (who should be nicknamed the Great) taught the rest of the class with Assata strapped to his chest. 

On the bad side: For the past 15 years not only the feds but New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, California, and Delaware have all run deficits, using debt and deferred payments to spend beyond their means. The Socialist Party claims “Socialism will have no leaders or ruling class at all.” Tell that to Chinese Christians who now have bad “social credit” scores: They can’t travel via plane or train, but they get free tickets to prison.

Tweets about the odd: Girls younger than 17 can get an abortion without parental consent in some states, but they won’t be allowed to watch the pro-life movie Unplanned in theaters because movie czars gave it an R rating. And an Australian paraglider landed safely, only to face a kangaroo attack. Video included.

My possibly life-changing tweet was this: “If you’re a college student hoping to improve your journalism skills, the World Journalism Institute’s course in the last half of May will help. To learn more and apply, go to Application deadline is MARCH 29.”

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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  • Allen Johnson
    Posted: Fri, 03/15/2019 10:37 am

    Rep. Ilhan Omar's comment about the "Benjamins" was not anti-Semitic, and did not refer to Jewish-Americans somehow lusting for money.
    Rather, it was about the powerful influence of pro-Israel influences (such as AIPAC) on Congress. And in all truth, who can deny that?!  

    As for anti-Semitism beiing equated with criticism of the nation of Israel (especially now the maltreatment of the Palestinian population), by that definition most of the biblical prophets would be the most egregious anti-Semites for lambasting Israel for its oppression and nationalistic idolatry. Read about Elijah, Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and others.