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Democrats at War: Bernie Sanders fires both barrels at Clinton-allied think tank


Meanwhile the AOC wing is fighting skirmishes with Nancy Pelosi and the leadership as 2020 gets Dem ugly.

(Melina Mara/The Washington Post / Getty Images)

The Democrats are at war, and the biggest front to open so far was opened by 2020 candidate and self-diagnosed "democratic socialist" Bernie Sanders.

Sanders made big waves against a big target on Sunday as news of his scathing rebuke of the Center for American Progress made the rounds. It's not the only front on which the war is being fought, but it's the hottest strike zone so far.

That rebuke came in the form of a letter, obtained and printed by the New York Times, and it minces no words. Sanders is accusing the think tank, a John Podesta joint, of "using its resources to smear Senator Booker, Senator Warren, and myself, among others," thereby undermining their mission to defeat Trump.

The battle line here is ideological, with Sanders and the "progressives" on one side, and American Progress and it's action fund on the other, stemming from articles published by the affiliated ThinkProgress website.

Sanders is arguing that the Clinton and Podesta part of the party is owned by corporate interests, and is therefore hostile to the turn, particularly among 2020 candidates, toward the politics now closely associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez--previously more closely associated with Sanders himself.

That dynamic is playing out in all sorts of ways lately, including in how Democratic leaders and long-time Democrat politicians discuss things like the controversies surrounding Rep. Ilhan Omar, but in the case of Sanders there is also the deeper wound of the 2016 primary.

Part of the fallout from the leaking of DNC emails was the revelation that the party was essentially deliberately undermining Sanders in favor of Clinton in 2016. Despite two years of effort at healing that wound, in many ways, and for many of his supporters, it's still very much open.

Amusingly, the particular article about him that set off the Vermont socialist was a criticism over his previously barely mentioned status as a full-fledged millionaire. The first line of that ThinkProgress article reads: "It's all very off-brand and embarrassing, but Sen. Bernie Sanders is a millionaire."

"Last week, you published an article on ThinkProgress criticizing me for my appearance and for the income I earned from writing a book," wrote Sanders in his letter. "Then, a day later, you published a video that dishonestly attacked me for hypocrisy in my effort to address income inequality in America – a video that was excitedly discussed on many conservative websites."

"Center for American Progress leader Neera Tanden repeatedly calls for unity while simultaneously maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas," he said of that criticism.

On Sunday morning, Waleed Shahid, Democrat strategist and communications director for the far left PAC Justice Democrats, said on CNN that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib have "significant disagreements" with the Democratic leadership.

Shahid argued that Republicans know about that divide and hope to exploit it. "It's another divide and conquer strategy because they know the Democratic party leadership will be slow in their response, and sometimes even dismissive" of "these three progressive women of color," and Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Steny Hoyer "will not come out swinging tor them."

Shahid singled out Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as being the politicians who would defend the three.

Meanwhile on CNN's "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper spoke with member of the leadership Rep. Jerry Nadler about the 9/11 controversy swirling around Rep. Omar. He pointed out to Nadler that Pelosi's statement could be read as a slight dig at Omar's comments in addition to the President.

Pelosi wrote: "The memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence."

Tapper asked Nadler if he had any problem with Omar's comment about 9/11. He said "I've had some problems with some of her other remarks but not with that one."

So he didn't contradict Tapper about whether Pelosi's comment may have been partially aimed at Omar, and although he had "no problem" with her 9/11 comments, he made sure to point out he has had a problem with other comments she has made.

And of course, there was last week's dig at Ocasio-Cortez's substance by Speaker Pelosi in an interview with USA Today. "While there are people who have a large number of Twitter followers, what's important is that we have large numbers of votes on the floor of the House," she said.

The hard left turn in the party, of which AOC was at least the harbinger if not the bringer, is not a group turn. It's meeting resistance. And with Bernie Sanders salvo at the Clinton-Podesta industrial complex, it's clearly not going to get better until it first gets worse.

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