As Lex Luthor said in the first Superman movie, “Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.”
Unless you happen to write for the Huffington Post, in which case it’s hard to even walk and chew gum at the same time.
Exhibit A: This piece, in which writer Jennifer Bendery dutifully comes running to the defense of Democrat It Girl Sensation Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been quite the media darling since bumping off longtime incumbent Joe Crowley—whom nobody outside of his home district in New York had really ever heard of—in a primary during which around 8% of the electorate actually showed up to vote. Naturally, this led members of the Fourth Estate to believe that the time for Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of democratic socialism—much like he brand of lipstick—had finally arrived, and they’ve taken every opportunity to boost her profile to that of a Kardashian, while at the same time defending her against anyone who might point out her unfortunate tendency to pontificate on subjects of which she knows little.
One of those guys just happened to be Ron DeSantis, who is currently running for Florida governor and isn’t exactly shy in pointing out the deficiencies Ocasio-Cortez’s arguments. Of course, Bendery can’t have any of that—and so she’s employed the rage mob’s go-to tactic of trying to inflate an innocuous comment into something worthy of a Margaret Atwood novel:
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) on Saturday referred to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democratic congressional nominee who is seen as a rising star in her party, as “this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is.”
Just terrible. I can remember how devastated I felt that one time somebody forgot my name at the office Christmas party and called me “Big Guy.” I still haven’t fully recovered.
DeSantis, who is running for governor and has the support of President Donald Trump,, made his remarks during a campaign event in Orange Park, Florida.
Yes, it’s another guy caught on tape making a rude suggestion about women! Well, maybe not a rude suggestion—but deep down, you just know that DeSantis might as well have been talking smack with Billy Bush on Access Hollywood.
“You look at this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is, I mean, she’s in a totally different universe,” he said to laughs. “It’s basically socialism wrapped in ignorance.”
What’s really funny about this attempt at manufactured outrage is how Bendery implies that “this girl” is somehow problematic, while “ignorance” is totes okay. I’m not sure what that says about the current state of our political discourse, but I doubt it’s anything good.
Nevertheless, Bendery gamely attempts to paper over the obviously stinging criticism of Ocasio Cortez’s worldview, which seems to have been largely shaped from social media talking points than any real reading of history and policy. On the situation in the Middle East, for example, Bendery tries to rehabilitate the candidate’s rather disastrous interview with PBS in which she inadvertently let slip her very real ignorance of what’s really going on there:
The 39-year-old DeSantis goes on to insult Ocasio-Cortez, who is 28 and identifies as a democratic socialist, for criticizing the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. [S]he referred to Israel’s “occupation” of Palestine causing a humanitarian crisis but clarified moments later that she meant that Israeli settlements are increasing in areas where Palestinians are concentrated.
Israel has occupied the West Bank territory since 1967 and, to Ocasio-Cortez’s point, most countries consider the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in the territory as illegal. When the United Nations Security Council voted in 2016 to demand that Israel immediately cease all settlement activities in the West Bank, the vote was 14-0. The United States abstained.
Only one problem—the context of the PBS interview referred to the situation in Gaza, not the West Bank. There haven’t even been any settlements in Gaza since the Israelis turned control there over to the Palestinians back in 2015. So either Bendery is making like Ocasio-Cortez and doesn’t really know what she’s talking about, or she’s deliberately trying to muddle the issue by injecting a non-sequitir that has nothing to do with the subject at hand.
But potato, potahto—whatever.
Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, couldn’t help but adding her own two bits with a tweet accusing—get this—DeSantis of being confused:
Hate to be the one to break it to ya, Alexandria, but Ron DeSantis graduated from Yale with a degree in history and from Harvard Law School. He also served as a JAG officer in the United States Navy—so unlike a person who got a degree in economics but somehow thinks that the unemployment rate goes down more when people have two jobs, DeSantis actually knows a thing or two about the issues.
So perhaps you should try taking less offense and maybe reading a book or two before taking office? I’m sure your constituents would be the better for it.