Stop obsessing over Ocasio-Cortez

The right can't stop talking about the incoming youngest member of the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The left isn't much better.

You know AOC. She rose from obscurity to instant celebrity as a self-described socialist running for Congress. The former waitress did it with a brilliant campaign combining social media genius with just showing up.

In the end, however, she will be only one of 235 Democrats in the 435-member House. Fans and detractors should keep that in mind.

The professional right has portrayed this Latina daughter of the Bronx as a threat to the free market system. During the midterm campaign, Republican ads kept flashing her face as the new Red menace.

Problem is, her face is pretty. She comes off as a hard worker from the working class. And her tailored suits have messed up many a storyline.

Fox News assembled a panel to discuss a pair of her shoes. They were on display in an exhibit at Cornell University titled "Women Empowered: Fashions from the Frontline."

Ocasio-Cortez cleverly trolled the panelists in Spanish, tweeting the words of a popular song. In English, "No, it's not love. What you feel is called obsession."

When a follower asked whether Fox News would have to hire a translator, she tweeted, "Don't worry, Fox News has made it clear that they are far superior to + more intelligent than me, who they've called a 'little, simple person.' So I'm sure catching up to me in spoken languages shouldn't be a problem for them."

Serious interviews show that she clearly needs to bone up on public affairs. But dumb she is not. Those on the right depicting her as such should, in the interest of consistency, demand that Donald Trump read something every now and then.

Writing on the conservative website The Federalist, Houston talk show host Jesse Kelly cited a "mind-numbingly stupid" tweet by Ocasio-Cortez. His real concern, however, is that the right isn't sufficiently scared of her.

"In politics," Kelly wrote, "there is no ability like relatability." Consider AOC's bull's-eye tweet about health care costs facing ordinary people: "As a waitress, I had to pay more than TWICE what I'd pay as a member of Congress."

Kelly waved a poll taken the May before the 2016 presidential election as evidence of the threat. It showed Bernie Sanders — another avowed socialist and an Ocasio-Cortez comrade — leading Trump by over 10 percentage points in a hypothetical race.

Actually, the poll reflected realities Kelly chose to ignore. One was how unappealing most voters regarded Trump. Another was that Trump and his backers were themselves promoting Sanders at the time to sabotage Hillary Clinton. Finally, a lot of people who don't like Sanders don't like Trump even more.

Anyhow, a recent poll of Democrats on prospective 2020 presidential candidates shows Joe Biden leading the pack, with 26 percent support, and Sanders at only 19 percent. (A Politico/Morning Consult poll had Trump losing to either one.)

Kelly does not give up: "Socialism is just communism dressed up in high heels and lipstick."
It's not, but that's beside the point. Ocasio-Cortez isn't really a socialist. She's more of a social democrat common in Western democracies. She's for "supporting seniors" and "clean campaign finance." Would Republicans care to run against that? Her "Green New Deal" to address climate change would draw bipartisan support.

Ocasio-Cortez's ability to come off as "real" and to fearlessly mock her foes on social media has been likened to Trump's. That's what might concern Republicans. It's like the left found the secret sauce.
On the other hand, AOC is just a junior member of the 116th U.S. Congress. Trump is commander in chief. There's a difference, you know.

Froma Harrop's column is distributed by Creators Syndicate.


 

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