I was an agnostic on the subject of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez until recently. She ran a great primary campaign against a complacent incumbent but she’s a freshman, which gives her little to no power. That, and my opinion of her, changed when the conservative media began its campaign to elevate her. That was not their intention but their idiotic and downright hysterical attacks on AOC have transformed her into one of the stars of the class of 2018. Holy unintended consequences, Batman.
Thus far the flying monkeys of the far right have attacked AOC for:
- Being factually challenged. Compared to Trump, she’s Norm Ornstein.
- Being a bartender. So much for the dignity of work. Besides, her former vocation has given her the ability to out-shout and out-heckle her enemies.
- Going by the nickname of Sandy while in college. They seem to think this should be a hanging offense. Oy, just oy.
- Dancing and looking vaguely goofy on a video from her college days. Her response was to post a video showing herself dancing into Congress. Dance shaming did not work.
- Taking a selfie of her bare feet whilst bathing. This was debunked by foot fetishists at something called Wiki Feet. I am not making this up.
- Calling Trump a racist. That’s called telling the truth.
- Rush Limbaugh called her “uppity” not long after Ed Rollins dismissed her as a “little girl.” Perhaps she should be more like Butterfly McQueen as Prissy in Gone With The Wind.
The result of these ludicrous attacks has been to dramatically raise her profile. Typically, rookie Congresscritters aren’t interviewed by Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes. One could call that encounter AC meets AOC. She even has her own acronym: talk about branding.
AOC is a helluva counter-puncher. Thus far, her responses to her critics have been pitch perfect. She’s a social media ninja who knows how to make her critics look small and petty. It helps that they are.
These bizarre and ineffectual attacks are rooted in the fear of strong women that pervades the political right. The attacks on AOC have empowered her instead of taking her down. They need a new playbook. White male hysteria isn’t working for them.
These men aren’t afraid of these women because they’re part of a movement, although they are. They’re terrified because these women are empowered professionals who have parlayed careers in institutions of power to become formidable political actors. Calling them uncivil or bad mommies or child-like isn’t effective when women are legitimate holders of high office—and yet, as we see, it continues in ever-more comically depressing forms. As Virginia Heffernan notes, “These moth-eaten virgin-whore tropes have become self-satirizing. If you think misogyny has faded since ‘Mad Men’ days, you’re wrong. In fact, as women pack the halls of power, it seems more virulent than ever, as conservatives convulse in fear at losing their old rubrics of control. They lash out more than Don Draper ever did.”
As a retired Mad Men recapper, I think Tucker, Rush, and their ilk are much worse than Dapper Don Draper. He came to accept Peggy and Joan as powerhouses. AOC’s critics are too busy fluffing Trump to evolve. Until they do, she’ll keep punching above her weight.
We conclude this episode of Dance Shaming Theatre with a little ditty from the Seventies: