Feehery: Trump inspires temporary House Democratic unity

Feehery: Trump inspires temporary House Democratic unity
© Greg Nash

Archie Bunker couldn’t have said it better himself.

When President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE tweeted that his most bitter congressional critics should go back to where they came from, he was channeling the most infamous blue-collar grouch in sitcom history. 

I have long chosen to ignore what the president tweets, spending my time focusing on what his administration actually does, most of which I find to be agreeable.

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But the media and his political opposition can’t help themselves. They focus on the president’s rhetoric, not his results.

Trump’s tweets about members of “the squad” came at a particularly interesting moment for the House Democratic Caucus. 

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' Mattis responds to Trump criticism: 'I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals' MORE (D-Calif.) was engaged with her own battle with four of the most outspoken and controversial of the newly elected class of the 116th Congress. 

One could make the case that Trump was violating the old Napoleon dictum about interfering with your enemy when they are engaged in self-destructive behavior. 

But what if the president’s end goal of his tweets was to inspire Democratic unity? What if the president didn’t want Pelosi succeed in her drive to make AOC and her friends irrelevant? If that was the case, mission accomplished. 

Pelosi’s battle with the mod “squad” promised to be her most dramatic fight yet. But that war has been put on hold, at least temporarily, perhaps permanently, thanks to the Trump tweet.

“The squad” — four women of color, Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez mourns Cummings: 'A devastating loss for our country' Booker endorses Lipinski challenger Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings MORE of New York, Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarKrystal Ball reacts to Ocasio-Cortez endorsing Sanders: 'Class power over girl power' The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Krystal Ball on Sanders debate performance: 'He absolutely hit it out of the park' MORE of Minnesota, Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOcasio-Cortez mourns Cummings: 'A devastating loss for our country' Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 Krystal Ball on Sanders debate performance: 'He absolutely hit it out of the park' MORE of Michigan and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOcasio-Cortez mourns Cummings: 'A devastating loss for our country' Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings Omar endorses Sanders presidential bid MORE of Massachusetts – are the personification of the new Democratic majority. They are all talented politicians, gifted at the sound bite, experts at the selfie, troubadours of Twitter, who communicate at a level rarely seen in the House of Representatives.

Sadly for “the squad,” while they may have been the face of the 2018 revolution, they don’t have the power to achieve their revolutionary goals. 

In 1994, Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE was the heart and soul of the Republican revolution. He was the one who inspired the base, he was the communications innovator, he was the face of the insurrection. But he also was the one calling the shots and he could put his legislative strategy where his revolutionary rhetoric was. Hence, the Contract with America.

Nancy Pelosi has no Contract with America.

She is notably short of any kind of legislative accomplishments, or of any kind of legislative agenda. Pelosi has been playing the long game in this session of the 116th Congress.

And as Pelosi has rightfully concluded, “the squad’s” political impulses are toxic to the long-term survival of the House Democratic majority. 

But that strategy is coming to an end, because if she wants to preserve her majority, she has to give her majority-makers some solid accomplishments that they can tout back home. 

Pelosi knows that AOC, as talented as she is, doesn’t play well in the 30 Democratically-held districts that Trump won in 2016.  

If Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Omar and Pressley are the face of the Democratic Party in, let’s say the 14th District of Illinois, Republicans take that seat back, along with 29 others of a similar ilk.

So Pelosi, to be successful, has to make the Mod Squad irrelevant. She cannot allow them to dictate the terms of the debate. They are just four lonely votes, out in the wilderness, an annoyance, not an impediment to legislation.  

But they have a huge Twitter following, and the potential to make trouble with the progressive base that is not only woke but not particularly interested in giving moderates in the Democratic Party the time of day, let alone the ability to shape the legislative agenda. 

Nancy Pelosi is good at internal knife-fights. Ask House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg defends handling of misinformation in political ads | Biden camp hits Zuckerberg over remarks | Dem bill would jail tech execs for lying about privacy | Consumer safety agency accidentally disclosed personal data House leaders offer tributes from floor to Elijah Cummings Maloney to serve as acting Oversight chairwoman after Cummings's death MORE (D-Md.) if you don’t believe me. But this is not just a knife-fight. It is a generational battle between the old and the new.  

Donald Trump has temporarily unified House Democrats. But I don’t think that unity can or will last very long.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: Trump may be down, but he's not out yet John Feehery: The woke versus the workers Feehery: Impeachment fever bad for Democratic governing vision MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).