Editor’s Note: Scott Jennings, a CNN contributor, is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and former campaign adviser to Sen. Mitch McConnell. He is a partner at RunSwitch Public Relations in Louisville, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJenningsKY. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
Man, Democrats are a confusing bunch. As they prepare for their first debates this week, their party is offering a disparate and perplexing set of descriptions for the real state of America.
Depending on who you listen to, the United States is either using concentration camps, a poverty-stricken country, or already great. It will be difficult for Democrats to maintain such contradictory positions and present a coherent message in 2020.
The true beating heart of the Democratic Party recently accused the Trump administration of running “concentration camps” to detain immigrants who are illegally crossing the US border with Mexico. That phrase was clearly used to evoke memories of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, causing immediate backlash from the Jewish community and even people in Ocasio-Cortez’s own party.
“…make no mistake, the comparison is cruel and disrespectful to the six million who were murdered in the Holocaust, including members of my own family. Concentration camps were places where Jews and others were enslaved, tortured, and then sent to gas chambers to be murdered,” Democrat Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey said.
“We are deeply disturbed by the language used in your recent Instagram live video which seeks to equate the detention centers on America’s southern border with Nazi-era Concentration Camps,” the Jewish Community Relations Council wrote in a letter.
And after Ocasio-Cortez doubled and then tripled down on her remarks, the US Holocaust Museum chided her in a statement, saying that it “unequivocally rejects efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary.”
Given that purported liberal thinkers and Democratic officeholders have taken to comparing Trump to Hitler, it’s easy to see why Ocasio-Cortez jumped into the deep end of this ridiculously disrespectful pool. If she’s good at anything, it is understanding exactly what woke liberals want to hear, no matter how off base it is.
The man leading the Democratic primary for president thinks America is a country with developing-world levels of poverty.
“We have … almost half the people in the United States living in poverty,” the erstwhile Vice President told the Poor People’s Campaign forum the other day. I guess that’s what they want to hear, but it isn’t true. The Washington Post’s fact checker consulted with the US Census to find the facts:
“Using the official poverty measure, 12.3% of US residents were below the federal poverty line in 2017. Using the supplemental poverty measure, the rate was 13.9%,” The Post reported. The fact-check went on: “We surveyed several leading researchers on poverty, and almost all agreed Biden was including people who are not poor.”
Biden lies all the time, so I am not surprised at his laughable statement. This one ranks up there with his whopper about how the Trump tax cut benefited only “folks at the top and corporations.”
But I wonder: what country most resembles Biden’s remark? Turns out, there are a few. The Gambia. Chad. Mexico. Mozambique. Senegal. All, according to the CIA, have had poverty rates between 45% and 50%, or “nearly half,” in the last decade.
Biden’s State of America? Put him down for Mexico, with apologies to the other countries who fit his definition.
The House Majority Whip and South Carolina political powerhouse opened his annual fish fry last week with this eyebrow raising statement:
“This country doesn’t have to be made great again. It is already great.”
I say eyebrow-raising because he apparently didn’t get the memos from Ocasio-Cortez or Biden’s offices regarding our sorry state of affairs. Clyburn, of course, was refuting President Trump’s famous campaign slogan. But a lot of Republicans would agree with him, as the last two and a half years have seen positive movement in how Americans feel about the State of America.
According to Gallup, in May, satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States was higher than when Obama left office. In May, consumer sentiment was at its highest level in 15 years, according to economists at the University of Michigan.
Maybe Clyburn is right. Perhaps it took Trump less than a full term to Make America Great Again, or at least put it on the right track.
Clyburn’s State of America? He may get a few dirty looks in the weekly Democratic conference meeting, as “already great” is just not a sentiment shared by many in his party.
Next year, when the Democrats settle on a nominee and Trump’s campaign is hammering away, which path will the Democratic Party choose? Something tells me the Ocasio-Cortezes of the world will never accept descriptions that don’t fit their dystopian view, no matter how unfounded and offensive it is.