‘America does not want to witness a food fight,” spake presidential candidate Kamala Harris at the recent Democratic Party debates.
Get real. Fans of that ideal solon John “Bluto” Blutarsky know America loves nothing better than a raucous comestible contest. That’s why, minutes after her show-stopper, Senator Harris pitched her own rhetorical pie into frontrunner Joe Biden’s stunned face.
And why two high-profile pseudo-culinary clashes would undoubtedly merit Bluto’s approval.
The to-do currently drawing all the attention focused on the Democratic — and distaff — side of the ring (inspiring Kellyanne Conway’s amusing, and galactically incorrect, feline characterization).
In this corner: Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker and six-decade political vet. Against the diverse, millennial, female and all-freshman “Squad:” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley.
This victual volley’s particulars have been well-rehearsed: Pelosi disses the upstarts’ opposition to border funding legislation as “four people, and that’s all the votes they got.”
And it’s flying.
With race cards. Counter-race cards. Primary threats. Dismissals of “trust fund kids,” “snot-nosed punks,” and getting seriously ugly, the Goomba puppet from Super Mario Brothers (referring to ringleader AOC).
As Black Caucus members, Justice Democrats, unnamed “senior leadership sources,” Rahm Emanuel and even The Donald all jump in.
Meanwhile, all this chow-chucking momentarily obscured another backbench Congressperson slinging hash at a party leader.
Consider: a Midwestern Congressman (initials J.A.), disillusioned with Republican voters’ Presidential choice — along with “extremist fringe elements” seeking an “ideological coup d’etat” — mulls an independent presidential bid
Oh, wait. You thought that was ex-GOP Michigan Congressman Justin Amash?
Actually, it was late Illinois Republican John Anderson, whose 1980 independent “campaign of ideas” promoted abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment and a 50 cent-per-gallon gas tax. (“Plus ça change…”)
Naturally, Anderson’s lefty pseudo-intellectualism endeared him to national media, naïve college students, and New England “Rockefeller Republicans” (today called “liberal Democrats”). But once-lofty 22% poll ratings dwindled to 6.6% of the nationwide vote — and precisely zero precincts.
Anderson was hardly the only Republican iconoclast to gain favor with everyone but real voters. Anti-war Californian Pete McCloskey quixotically tilted at Richard Nixon in 1972. Reporters cheered the 2000 “Straight Talk Express,” as John McCain likened himself to Luke Skywalker against the big-money Death Star — and garnered 14% of delegates.
And any number of independent challengers have been mooted to President Trump, in 2016 and since. Mitt Romney called Trump a “phony” and “fraud” — before sucking up in pursuit of a cabinet slot. Columnist David French demurred a draft — but nonentity Evan McMullin, comically, did not. Erstwhile Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s vocal besmirching of Trump cost him his seat.
Now Amash, a self-described libertarian, has pronounced the President guilty of “impeachable offenses,” declared himself “disenchanted” with the Trump-sullied two-party system, and stated he “can’t rule out” an independent run for 1600 Pennsylvania.
Well now. Food fights are fun — for a while. But like Sen. Harris, the Bombing Squad and the latest Anderson-wannabe also need to get real.
Starting with the most amusing aspect of the higher-profile contretemps: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez labeling Ms. Pelosi “outright disrespectful.”
Really? Like a newly elected AOC waltzing intoo the Speaker’s anteroom to high-five invading climate-change protesters? Accusing Pelosi last week of “cowardice?”In-your-face tweeting that the Squad owned “public sentiment” and the “power to shift it?” And having a mere staffer publicly sniff that America’s third-highest-ranking leader got “outmaneuvered by the Republicans?”
A word of advice to AOC and her “Squad:” you’re bringing whipped cream to a knife fight. As you’re quickly learning as her ranks close around her, Nancy Pelosi has spilled more blood in power struggles than a Dracula triple-feature.
So try shutting up and taking a lesson or two in political combat — preferably not on the receiving end — from the woman who single-handedly transformed U.S. healthcare and repeatedly schools the pusillanimous Prez, which is no mean feat.
And while we’re at it: independent bids and leadership challenges mostly fizzle into nothing-burgers for a reason. Donald Trump garnered a record 14 million 2016 primary votes, dispatching a huge field of experienced candidates — and now enjoys nearly 90% intraparty approval. Meaning there’s zero demand for a Justin Amash independent run except in his own mind — and in Democrats’ and political junkies’ dreams of an extended Bluto-style bender.
Still, while the slop soars, the rest of us can fondly remember the future Senator Blutarsky’s first classic oration (“was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!”) — while thrilling to D.C.’s latest re-enactments of the stirring Battle of Faber College Cafeteria.
Bob Maistros is a messaging and communications strategist and crisis specialist. He was chief writer for the Reagan-Bush ’84 campaign, and a former Senate subcommittee counsel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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