Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has just started work, but you wouldn’t know it, given how much the media have covered her since she was elected in November – the youngest woman and first avowed socialist to join Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez has received more media coverage in the last few months than most congresspeople get in a lifetime, mostly for actions and statements that wouldn’t warrant a second thought if they came from any other politician.
The Right, in particular, has pounced on minor gaffes that would be quickly forgiven among their own ranks, but even they are only reacting to the heavy media spotlight that has followed her since the day she took out incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th district in June’s primary.
It remains to be seen whether the frenzy over Ocasio-Cortez will be justified by her accomplishments. While her Green New Deal is certainly quite ambitious, the Democratic Party is still largely opposed to her progressive agenda, and it’s unclear whether she can garner support for the plan’s component legislation.
Meanwhile, here are some of her better-known moments.
Less than a month after beating Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez provoked groans all around when she told PBS’ Margaret Hoover that “unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs.”
Her defenders pointed to grains of truth in the statement – unemployment numbers exclude a lot of the actual unemployed, and many Americans are forced to work multiple jobs to support their families – and she recovered pretty quickly after that one.
Unsure why you leap to interpret my comments in the dimmest light possible – almost as though you have an agenda🤔
CLEARLY, unemployment is unchanged by the # of jobs each person has.
But low unemployment doesn’t tell the full story. Wages are low, driving ppl to 2nd jobs+gigs. https://t.co/z1QD034TVI
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 17, 2018
The shoes, part 1
Ocasio-Cortez proudly showed off her campaign footwear – a decrepit pair of sneakers worn through by miles of walking – as proof she was running a real grassroots campaign, pounding the pavement and pressing the flesh, and they became iconic enough for Cornell University’s Costume Collection to include them in an exhibit on women in politics.
But Fox News snidely congratulated her on passing for a “little simple person” – a running theme in Ocasio-skeptics who find her Bronx-girl persona disingenuous.
The shoes, part 2
After she was photographed in a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels and an expensive suit for an Interview Magazine photo shoot, conservative Twitter had a field day. “Expensive tastes for a socialist,” went a typical subject line.
This time, she was ready with a response.
a) The alt-right doesn’t seem to understand the concept of magazine shoots
b) You don’t get to keep the clothes, duh
c) I don’t “pretend” to fight for a Living Wage & Medicare for All. I do it.
d) Get used to me slaying lewks because I am an excellent thrift shopper pic.twitter.com/Nd2m6WoCxF
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 15, 2018
The rent is too damn high – or is it?
After winning the general election, Ocasio-Cortez complained to the New York Times that she couldn’t afford to rent an apartment in Washington, DC. Framing her plight as similar to that of her constituents, she was once again attacked by Fox.
1. @FoxNews, why can’t any of your anchors say my name correctly? It’s been 5 months.
2. It is bizarre to see 1%-salaried anchors laugh at the US housing crisis.
3. Never purchased pricey clothes + always told my story. But repeating lies until they are believed is your thing. https://t.co/Py5aXFi3Z4
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 9, 2018
One panelist congratulated her for “taking a brilliant line” – craftily positioning herself as “just one of the people” – while another brought up the shoes again, accusing her of “spending money irresponsibly.”
How many chambers?
In a post-midterm Tweet attempting to fire up her Democratic base, Ocasio-Cortez seemed to confuse the three branches of government with the two chambers of Congress – and then did it again, slightly differently. Conservatives merrily tore her to pieces, while she accused them of “drooling over every minute of footage of me” and deceptively editing the footage.
Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “If we work our butts off to make sure that we take back all three chambers of Congress — Uh, rather, all three chambers of government: the presidency, the Senate, and the House.”
The 3 branches of government: executive, legislative, judicial. pic.twitter.com/8rPSpzottE
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) November 19, 2018
Even Sarah Palin got involved with that one, until someone reminded her of her own past statements.
Yikes ! Are you still relevant? Go to your front porch and stare at Russia .
— Charlie Adler (@charlie_adler) November 22, 2018
Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime.
It wasn’t for Jewish families fleeing Germany.
It wasn’t for targeted families fleeing Rwanda.
It wasn’t for communities fleeing war-torn Syria.
And it isn’t for those fleeing violence in Central America. https://t.co/qhv7Rr1itn
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 25, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez compared Central American migrants at the border to Jews fleeing the Nazis, and the media (and Lindsey Graham) had a meltdown. She also included the Rwandan genocide and Syrian refugees in the comparison, though only the Holocaust seemed to provoke any outrage among the massively pro-Israel Republicans.
I recommend she take a tour of the Holocaust Museum in DC.
Might help her better understand the differences between the Holocaust and the caravan in Tijuana. https://t.co/05vCexiClE
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) November 26, 2018
And finally, the dance
A clip from a dance video Ocasio-Cortez and friends made in college went viral earlier this week. Supposedly posted in an attempt to smear her, it mostly just endeared people to her.
She hasn’t made enough money to rent an apartment in Washington …. But she’s ready to grab 70% from people that have fought their way to the top.@AOC if environment is at peril, why not propose EVERYBODY pays 70%?
Isn’t the planet worth it?
— AGORACOM – George (@AGORACOM) January 4, 2019
Many among the party establishment loathe Ocasio-Cortez, who announced on Friday that she would like to pay for the Green New Deal with a 70-percent tax on the wealthy. Because she’s female and non-white, however, they have to be careful how they disparage her… or just label her a Russian tool – that works too. But Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t even had to do anything to be smeared by multiple party insiders. Joe Lieberman wrote an entire op-ed suggesting how to avoid electing her in the general after she beat Crowley in the primary, and outgoing Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MI) dismissed her as a “shiny object” devoid of substance, all before she set foot in the Capitol. Whether it’s her youth, her self-styled socialism, or something else entirely, she has the establishment running scared enough to focus on her every slip before even starting her job.
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