This is not the number one takeaway from the Democratic National Convention -- that would be "Look Ma! Uncle Joe has his marbles!" -- but it is the most enduringly, self-defeatingly nettlesome:
For God’s sake, can Democrats and those who cover them please stop obsessing over all things AOC?
This week, of course, the Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez-based angst has centered on her appearance at the convention. Was her speaking slot too brief? Her praise of Bernie Sanders too fulsome? Did she snub Joe Biden? What of the Democrats’ decision to give so much time and love to Johns Kasich and McCain over the first two nights? Will AOC’s troops take affection for such Republicans as such an insult that they will stay home in November? And on and on, to the point where the congresswoman herself seems to be rolling her eyeballs at it, Twitter-wise.
Meanwhile, there is this thing called the U.S. Senate, control of which is so crucial to the future of the country that winning it is almost as important as winning the White House itself. There are approximately ten – ten – Republican-held Senate seats plausibly in play, apart from the imperiled Alabama seat held by Democrat Doug Jones. Zero of the Democratic candidates in those races, from Maine to Iowa to the Carolinas, would benefit from being seen as a foot soldier in a national march to the far left. All of them need to sell themselves as – and, indeed, be -- capable of working with, liking and representing at least some Republicans and right-leaning Independents, to say nothing of Democrats who, just months ago, were scared to death that Bernie Sanders might become their nominee. Even if Biden himself didn’t need to woo any such voters, every single aspirant to the task of realizing his legislative agenda does. More urgently yet, in the cataclysmic event that Biden loses, a Democratic-controlled Senate will be the last, best hope to check Trump Part II.
A calmer version of the same, of course, goes for House Democrats. Nancy Pelosi is not going to lose the speakership, but where could she conceivably lose seats? In places where AOC is a rock star, or places where she is (absurdly) decried as a Bolshevik bitch on wheels?
None of this is to insult the young congresswoman, a blazing political talent whose DNC speech was fine and who, in fact, came out swinging against NBC News for characterizing it as some kind of Biden-shading stunt. Nor is it to belittle progressives or take them for granted. Progressivism is the undeniable heart of the Democratic party. But as Sanders' defeat attests, it is still in discussions with the head.
Of course, Democrats must not allow Republicans and Independents to steer their agenda. But this of all years, Democrats need to pull as many as possible onto their bus.