- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar criticized former President Barack Obama as a “polished” politician who sold “hope and change” to the American people but failed to deliver.

In a new interview with Politico magazine, the freshman Democrat revealed that it was her frustration with her own party that inspired her to run for office.

“We can’t be only upset with Trump,” Ms. Omar said. “His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was.

“And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore,” she added. “We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”

Ms. Omar said the “hope and change” slogan offered by Mr. Obama was a mirage, citing the “caging of kids” at the U.S.-Mexico border and the “droning of countries around the world,” Politico reported.

In the wide-ranging interview, Ms. Omar embraced comparisons of the Tea Party to the newly formed freshman “Squad,” which includes left-wing Democrats such herself and Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.

“We look at the negative aspects of the Tea Party and not really at the part of them that spoke to the American people, that made them feel like there were people actively fighting for them,” Ms. Omar said. “There’s a resemblance there. A lot of us are not that much different in our eagerness to want to come here and fight for our constituents, fight for the American ideals we believe in.”

“I don’t believe that tiptoeing is the way to win the hearts and the minds of the people,” she said. “I get saddened by some of my freshman colleagues who can’t understand that within their districts the idea of Medicare for All is extremely popular. The Green New Deal is a very popular idea in their districts. Making sure that we have a final fix to our broken immigration system is very popular in their districts. What they pay attention to is the rhetoric that says, ‘This is a red-to-blue district, you have to be careful, you can’t talk about these policies.’ Well, in reality, these people are like everyone else: They struggle with the cost of health care, they struggle with our broken infrastructure, they struggle with having an economy that brings them into the 21st century. And we have to be willing to have those conversations.”

Ms. Omar, a Muslim, has been embroiled in controversy since her election for repeatedly making comments that perpetuate anti-Semitic tropes. The congresswoman has repeatedly stated that her criticism is directed at the Israeli government, not the Jewish people.

She told Politico that she’s glad her actions have opened a conversation in Washington about Israeli money in politics.

“As much as other people are uncomfortable, I’m excited about the change in tone that has taken place that is extremely positive. The insightful conversations that we’re having about money and its influence in Washington. And my ability, I think, to agitate our foreign policy discussions in a way that many of my colleagues who have been anti-intervention, anti-war have been unable to do in the past,” she said. “So, I’m OK with taking the blows if it means it will ignite conversations that no one was willing to have before.”

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