The national Democrat dilemma of how to handle the radicals in their ranks is playing out right here in Brooklyn and Staten Island with Rep. Max Rose, who campaigned and won as a “moderate.”
Whether it is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s effort to “impeach this motherfuc—,“ as she said referring to the president, or the continued outlandish comments of Rep. Ilhan Omar, there is a battle within the Democratic Party. It is between their far-left radical base whose clout seems to be growing, and the purported moderates who won swing districts, such as Max Rose.
Unfortunately, our freshman congressman has been all over the place in standing up to his extremist colleagues. It’s almost as if he has multiple personalities.
The most recent example is his conflicting responses to the comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) at a Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) event. As we learned when this speech became public earlier this month, Omar said that CAIR was needed because “all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties” because on 9/11 “some people did something.”
The New York Post placed this quote on its front page April 11 and many were immediately outraged by Omar’s remarks — except Democrats. We heard silence or excuses about the quote being taken out of context. If there was ever a time for common sense Democrats at any level of government, especially in New York City, to stand up against the extremism in their ranks, this would have been the time to speak up.
Jimmy Riches, the father of a local FDNY firefighter killed on Sept. 11 summed up the local Democratic response by saying, “They can’t deal with reality — Schumer, Nadler, all the New York politicians were quiet. They didn’t say one thing…She [Ilhan Omar] owes us an apology.”
Amazingly, far-left organizers in Rose’s Brooklyn district are actually calling on Yemeni businesses to boycott and not sell the Post because it had the audacity to relay Omar’s quote to New Yorkers on its pages.
There was a time not too long ago that all New York City leaders, regardless of party stripes, would have condemned these comments which were clearly meant to minimize or brush off the tragic events of 9/11, where almost 3,000 Americans were killed.
In a follow-up story the next day in the Post after their cover page about Omar was published, Rose could not bring himself to condemn Omar, instead his quote was “we need to uphold our civil liberties.” This actually echoed her comments made at CAIR. One would assume someone who was an officer in a combat zone would have a little more backbone. Perhaps his time in Washington hanging out with AOC and Omar has clouded his vision.
After hearing a backlash for his silence from his constituents, Rose later appeared on the Fox News Channel with Dana Perino. He finally said what many thought the second we heard Omar’s comments, and what he should have said on day one — her remarks were “insensitive” and “offensive.”
The crickets coming from local Democrats has caused Staten Island Republican Councilman and NYC Public Advocate candidate Joe Borelli to introduce a resolution in the City Council denouncing Omar’s remarks. I wonder how many Brooklyn and NYC Council Members will vote for this? We shouldn’t hold our breath because in this age of polarized politics, common sense goes out the window. But, if it was a City Council resolution condemning President Trump for something he did when he was a teenager, Democrats would be all aboard.
This wasn’t Rose’s first time twisting himself like a pretzel to not anger the left in dealing with Omar. In February, she tweeted that support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins, baby,” and accused Jewish-American leaders of having a “dual loyalty” to America and Israel. Initially, Rose accepted Omar’s half-hearted apology and was ready to move on. Once again, after his silence sparked outrage from constituents, he had to go back to the drawing board.
At Rose’s March 19 town hall meeting at the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island, he said “You sent me to Congress to take responsibility. You sent me to Congress to have your back…and I failed you. Because I know that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s comments really caused you all a lot of pain by bringing up anti-Semitic tropes.”
However, Rose still refuses to join calls to have Omar removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Yet, not even a month later, Rose made the same mistake by initially remaining silent about Omar’s “some people did something” comments about 9/11.
Here is the unfortunate political reality: Rose doesn’t want to be too harsh on Omar because he fears the reaction of far-left voters and their rejection of him in a tight race next year. But what about all those that lost friends and family on 9/11?
Also, the last thing Rose wants are the Democratic Socialists and folks like Linda Sarsour heckling him every time he sets foot in Brooklyn.
Indeed, it is apparent Rose will have a real race next year as Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis has raised more money in the first fiscal quarter than any other Republican challenger in the nation. This is a big concern for Rose, which explains his multiple personalities when it comes to dealing with Ilhan Omar.
Bob Capano has worked for Brooklyn Republican and Democrat elected officials, and has been an adjunct political science professor for over 15 years.