In late June, a bartender and activist in New York City managed to win the Democrat primary against the well-financed, well-known Rep. Joseph Crowley, once thought to be a possible successor to Nancy Pelosi atop the House Democrat caucus.
Thus did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became an instant celebrity.
The card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America was the toast of the left, appearing on Stephen Colbert and becoming one of the new faces of the Democrats without actually having won a general election. The 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez probably shouldn’t worry about that; she’s in a district where Republicans are about as rare as active chapters of GLAAD in Saudi Arabia.
She should, however, worry about interviews. And not of the Colbert variety, in which an inexplicably star-struck host swoons over Washington’s newest sensation. I’m talking about interviews where the questions aren’t some permutation of: “So, Donald Trump is really awful because <insert alleged treachery here>, right?” or “I hear you’re from the Bronx, is that correct?”
“Firing Line” is just such a program; the venerable PBS show, begun by the legendary William F. Buckley, has now been revived with Margaret Hoover as the host and is one of the rare slices of conservatism on the otherwise uniformly liberal public broadcaster.
Ocasio-Cortez was Hoover’s guest on Friday and, while the show was nowhere near as contentious as the WFB years could get, the newly minted nominee still didn’t particularly seem to grasp the particulars of one of her more controversial positions — namely, her open support for the Palestinian cause and animus toward Israel.
According to The Daily Wire, the exchange in question was about the May clashes at the Israeli border with Gaza, which Ocasio-Cortez has described as a “massacre.” Hoover noted that the “geo-politics” of a Palestinian protest are a good deal different from a peaceful demonstration in the United States by people “expressing their First Amendment right to protest.”
“Well, yes, but I also think that what people are starting to see, at least, in the occupation of Palestine, is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition,” the candidate said. “And that, to me, is just where I tend to come from on this issue.”
“You use the term ‘the occupation of Palestine,'” Hoover continued. “What do you mean by that?”
“Oh! Um.” There was a significant pause before Ocasio-Cortez embarked on her answer. “I think what I meant is, like, the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas and places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.”
“Do you think you can expand on that?” Hoover continued, showing considerable restraint by not asking whether Ocasio-Cortez would like to phone a friend.
“Yeah, I mean, I think, I’d also just — I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue,” Ocasio-Cortez said, breaking into laughter.
Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attacks Israel, calls them the occupiers of Palestine.
When pressed on what she meant she struggled to give an answer and then admitted she does not know what she is talking about. pic.twitter.com/e3Uq1eupD3
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) July 16, 2018
Yes, you don’t say. I don’t know what she thinks is particularly hysterical here. I mean, I certainly know what I find funny, although I also find my mirth considerably tempered by the fact that this woman will likely be voting in the Congress of the United States on issues regarding the Jewish state and Palestine come January next.
This, mind you, isn’t Ocasio-Cortez’s first misstep, although she’s generally been able to wallpaper over other controversies. Israeli issues are a pretty big deal, both within the Democrat caucus and the New York City area, which is home to the largest Jewish population in the United States.
It’s one thing to call Gaza a “massacre,” another to call Israel an occupier and yet another to openly admit that you don’t really know about these things. Laughing this off brings this to a whole different level of head-in-handedness, particularly when you consider that her direct constituency likely cares about the issue a great deal.
For that matter, this won’t be the last time that Ocasio-Cortez is asked difficult questions by people who aren’t going to let her off easy. The Balkanization of cable news still means she can find relatively safe harbors on CNN and MSNBC, but even there, the softballs aren’t Colbertian in their slowness. Especially when it comes to Israel, both voters and the media will demand answers, answers it seems Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t particularly have any of.
For someone with such a controversial view on the issue, you would think this would be something she would have studied vigorously.
Now that she’s likely headed to Washington, it’s time for Ocasio-Cortez to become, like, the expert on geopolitics on this issue. Or at least something approximating informed, before her next crash-and-burn interview.
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