This past week, Fed watchers looked for signs that the central bank’s chimney would emit white smoke, signaling interest rate cuts to boost an already sky-high stock market.
In the political world, however, all eyes were drawn elsewhere, as smoke again poured from the ears of every Democrat hoping 2020 would signal an end to Sir Donald, Prince Pence and the Archduke (Mitch) McConnell.
The cause of the fire: four social media-savvy Democratic members of Congress who believe — despite lifetimes of modest accomplishment — that no one is more qualified to lead their party out of the wilderness of ideological surrender and electoral defeat.
This vigilante posse is led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a self-appointed arbiter of truth who suggests any Democrat who doesn’t conform to her views is a Neanderthal in need of a public exorcism.
Riding beside her: Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was recently dissed for anti-Israel comments and insinuates anyone who disagrees with her is driven by racism or Islamaphobia; Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, whose anti-business, anti-police riffs have made her the rave of the radicals; and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who warned a White House advisor just this week to “keep my name out of your lying mouth.”
As much as many admire the hard path it took for them to ascend to positions of influence, Ocasio-Cortez’s self-branded “squad” may soon be renamed “the four horsewomen of the apocalypse” given the threat they now pose to the political party they purport to “save.”
Start with the march to the White House. At the recent presidential Democratic debate in Miami, many on stage confirmed — or remain comfortable with — every policy “demand” from these four fomenters.
Kamala Harris joined Bernie Sanders and others in calling for “Medicare for All,” which would take all private health insurance away from more than 150 million Americans.
Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand support Ocasio-Cortez’s ultimatum on the environment, the Green New Deal, despite its $10-trillion price tag and its proviso that anyone who doesn’t want to work doesn’t have to work.
And Julian Castro led the full presidential contending brigade, including Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, down the primrose path of unlawful immigration, proclaiming it should no longer be a crime to enter the country illegally.
So the top contenders in the Democratic field — Biden, Harris, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, Booker — are now charter members of a chorus line led by four firebrands whose names may not be on the 2020 presidential ballot but whose words will haunt those who are.
Rest assured, President Donald Trump will foist all of these dangerous proposals onto the eventual Democrat nominee, whether they fully agree with them or not, meaning they are bolted at the hip with the “squad” come hell or high water.
Short of a major stock market pullback, or self-induced calamity, the president — whose ability to command an audience and control a narrative is simultaneously maddening and legendary — has a treasure trove of material from which to choose.
Yet the electoral damage to Democrats will not limited to the presidential derby. Whereas the party took back control of Congress in 2018 because of centrists, not liberals, more than two dozen Democrat moderates are now shaking in their political boots about the potential fallout from Ocasio-Cortez’ brood.
History has a vexing habit of repeating itself. A few years back, former House Speaker Paul Ryan could never reconcile conventional Republicans with a vocal, fed-up-with-the-system Freedom Caucus.
Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is feeling a similar kind of heat, as she tries to quell an intraparty revolution she neither created nor commands.
Verily, control now belongs to the four merry populists, Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley, who would rather Tweet than take a seat, who would risk defeat over being discreet — even if that means boxing fellow Democrats into a corner they can’t electorally escape.
If this quartet were to audition a karaoke routine, they would likely request a classic R.E.M. song remembered most for the refrain: “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”
Unfortunately for them, here in the rest of America, that feeling is anything but mutual.
Adam Goodman is a national Republican media consultant based in St. Petersburg and the first Edward R. Murrow Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.