It’s been a busy week for Rep. Ilhan Omar, but she’s not done just yet.
After criticizing the influence of the pro-Israel lobby in Congress, Omar spent the last five days being constantly browbeaten by a bevy of confused establishment Democrats and bad-faith Republicans. It was a fucking mess the whole way through, and Omar was the only one to come out looking competent. But while it seems a little early to Go In all over again, Omar was still willing to end the week the same way she started it—by speaking the damn truth.
On Friday, Politico Magazine published a hefty feature detailing the differing politics of Omar and Rep. Dean Phillips, a first-year moderate from a swing district in the same state. There’s some good stuff breaking down the demographics of their two Minnesota districts in there that’s worth reading, but the real gold isn’t found in some astute electoral analysis.
The headline moment came when Omar critiqued the promises made by former President Barack Obama in the run-up to his presidency, as well as the inability of he and his administration to ever reconcile their “hope and change” message with blatantly harmful neoliberal policies. Omar specifically cited Obama’s “caging of kids” at the U.S.-Mexico border and his administration’s policy of “droning of countries around the world” as vastly limiting his ability to improve upon the work of his conservative war-hawk of a predecessor. She brought it home with the following quote, per Politico Magazine:
“We can’t be only upset with Trump. … His 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,” Omar says. “And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody 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.”
Because these kind of leftward critiques have been cordoned off from the realm of national politics for basically the entirety of Obama’s presidency and the preceding three decades, it naturally feels weird to hear and read a politician on the left be so unrepentant in her commitment to saying what is obviously true. But damn if isn’t refreshing as hell to know that, despite all the racist and xenophobic bullshit Omar’s had to endure in the face of her AIPAC criticism, there’s finally someone in Congress—a registered Democrat, no less—who refuses to be shamed out of calling it like she sees it.
Update, 4:07 p.m. ET: Omar appeared to refute the notion that she is not an Obama fan in a Friday afternoon tweet, which included her own recording of that portion of the conversation with Politico’s Tim Alberta.