Saikat Chakrabarti, a Texas-born techie who is chief of staff to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez(AOC), is facing the wrath of Democratic leader House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the party’s old guard after several controversial tweets, including ones in which he suggested the party is still hadn’t gotten rid of its racist legacy and its leadership is soft on President Donald Trump.
The latest row — coming amid his boss AOC’s ongoing public clash with Speaker Pelosi — began when Chakrabarti, in a now-deleted tweet, described centrist Democrats as “new Southern Democrats” that “certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.” Before it became moderate and liberal, the Democratic Party was the original white primacist party in the US; Republicans have taken over the mantle in recent years.
Chakrabarti’s attack on the party leadership was followed his boss Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez herself accusing Speaker Pelosi of singling out “women of color” in the party after she (Pelosi) had referenced his tweets and warned in a closed door meeting against party cadres airing grievances in public. “You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it. But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK.” Pelosi was reported to have said at the meeting.
Everything I tweeted 2 weeks ago was to call out the terrible border funding bill that 90+ Dems opposed. It gave Tr… https://t.co/cNhwtz43zU
— Saikat Chakrabarti (@saikatc) 1562986691000
This tweet was in response to someone else’s tweet where they specifically brought up Rep. Davids. Why did you leav… https://t.co/SxbEOmC8wV
— Saikat Chakrabarti (@saikatc) 1562986691000
But instead of calming things down, the dressing down further inflamed an already tense situation. Some of the aggravation came from Pelosi’ sneering attack last week on four young Congresswomen of color who some in the party establishment regard as insurgents and others see as progressives who are trying to push the party to the left and asserting themselves in setting the legislative agenda.
Besides Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Hispanic origin, the so-called “gang of four” consists of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota who is of Somali origin, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan) who is of Palestinian-origin and African-American Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
The public spat, fought through interviews in the media, led to the following exchange, among others: Pelosi — “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.” AOC — “That public ‘whatever’ is called public sentiment. And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.”
Republican operatives, who have had to live with the embarrassment of a shambolic administration and a off-kilter President for more than two years, are relishing every moment of what Trump aide KellyAnne Conway described as a “huge catfight” and a “major meow moment” — among Democrats.
((That description in turn attracted AOC’s wrath. “Catfight is the sexist term Republicans use when two adult women happen to disagree with each other. The reason they find it so novel &exciting is bc the GOP haven’t elected enough women themselves to see that it can, in fact, be a normal occurrence in a functioning democracy,” she tweeted, schooling Conway. But even Whoopi Goldberg, a Democrat supporting actress, advised AOC not to pick a fight with the party moderates, saying “you are not allowed to bitch” after earlier having told her to “stop pooping on people.”
Meanwhile, Chakrabarti continued to attack Pelosi and the party leadership, accusing them of going soft on Trump, particularly on the impeachment issue. “Pelosi claims we can’t focus on impeachment because it’s a distraction from kitchen table issues. But I’d challenge you to find voters that can name a single thing House Democrats have done for their kitchen table this year. What is this legislative mastermind doing?” he tweeted on July 6. He also attacked a Native-American lawmaker whose votes he said enabled a racist system.
That led to another rebuke from the Democratic leadership with the House Democratic Caucus tweeting: “Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color? Her name is Congresswoman Davids, not Sharice. She is a phenomenal new member who flipped a red seat blue. Keep Her Name Out Of Your Mouth. Chakrabarti’s response: I think the point still stands. I don’t think people have to be personally racist to enable a racist system. And the same could be said of Southern Democrats.
The feud, both internecine and inter-party — is far from over. On Friday, Chakrabarti was attacked in right wing media outlets for apparently once wearing a T-shirt with the face of “Nazi admirer” Subhas Chandra Bose on it.
A Harvard alumnus with a degree in computer science, Chakrabarti, 32, worked on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, before “dropping everything” and joining the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2015 “because he was talking about the right problems.” He became 29-year old Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s campaign manager when she unexpectedly won the primary and she appointed him chief of staff when she won the election in November 2018.