In what may be a bit like a dwarf claiming an NBA player lacks stature, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) accused President Trump of being semi-illiterate after he likened her Green New Deal (GND) proposal to a poorly conceived and written high-school paper. This comes on the heels of her retraction of the GND FAQ, which was posted on her website — and spoke of eliminating flatulating cows and air travel — but which her chief of staff now dismisses as being in the nature of “typos.”
As the Daily Mail characterizes it:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blasted Donald Trump as a semi-illiterate fool on Monday, minutes after the president slammed her ‘Green New Deal’ proposal as juvenile and poorly conceived.
‘It sounds like a high school term paper that got a low mark,’ Trump said of the sweeping outline that the New York Democrat unveiled last week.
The president was speaking at a raucous rally in El Paso, Texas.
‘Ah yes,’ Ocasio-Cortez sliced in a tweet, ‘a man who can’t even read briefings written in full sentences is providing literary criticism of a House Resolution.’
…She added a line that she attribute [sic] to The Washington Post: ‘Reading the intelligence book is not Trump’s preferred “style of learning,” according to a person with knowledge of the situation.’
Ocasio-Cortez’ tit-for-tat wasn’t exactly equivalent, however. It is said that Trump prefers oral to written presentations; this could reflect a defect, but, then again, personal learning style is a real phenomenon. (In fact, it might help the freshman representative’s cause if the president were illiterate, as her plan would appeal most to those who couldn’t actually read it.) Yet that Ocasio-Cortez’ GND FAQ had a valley-girl high-school quality is beyond dispute.
For starters, and to frame it in language the congresswoman obviously prefers, the proposals in the FAQ are wack. They included phasing out fossil fuels over a decade and nuclear power over a somewhat longer period; providing “economic security” for all who are “unwilling to work”; retrofitting every building in the country; and, again, eliminating air travel.
This not only would involve spending countless trillions on a problem that doesn’t exist, but if instituted globally could “result in the death of nearly all humans on Earth,” as Greenpeace co-Founder Patrick Moore put it. Note, too, that before they died their miserable deaths, they’d cut down every tree for fuel and kill every animal for food. Below is a video of President Trump discussing the scheme at his Monday rally.
Yet the FAQ’s juvenile style is also striking. It states at one point, “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”
Perhaps they’ll teach the bovines better manners, or maybe the solution will be vegan senator Cory Booker’s recently referenced desire to make every day meatless Monday. But “farting” cows, really? This is like writing “pooping,” which, mind you, has become lamentably common in journalism (pro tip: “Poop” is a baby word).
It’s easy making fun of Ocasio-Cortez (too easy), but what’s sad is that such intellectually wanting people now rise to power. Sadder still is that this reflects a decaying culture descending into Idiocracy, which is the title of a 2006 comedy portraying an outrageously intellectually degraded, dystopian United States that we today increasingly resemble (cursing politicians and all).
Speaking of stupidity, this is precisely what’s required to believe the spin on the FAQ, whose dissemination the Ocasio-Cortez crew now writes off as a meaningless mistake. This explanation (excuse?) is echoed by complicit media such as the Washington Post, which stated that the document is merely “erroneous.”
Now, the paper’s masthead-borne motto is, ironically, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” But not only did it uncritically accept the above claim, it also closed the above-linked piece with the assertion, by Ocasio-Cortez’ chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti, that people are trying to distract you from the holy climate crusade by focusing on the FAQ’s “little typos.”
Know here that an article’s closing line is often the one expressing a belief reporters want you to embrace. Making it a partisan quotation is a way of craftily injecting commentary into “straight news.” But let’s review the facts on the FAQ.
The document was posted on Ocasio-Cortez’ website early last Thursday morning, but was scrubbed mere hours later after bringing mockery. The next day, Friday evening, one of the congresswoman’s advisors claimed the document was the nefarious work of Republicans. Ocasio-Cortez then tacitly endorsed this notion in a tweet before her staff later admitted that, yes, it was theirs — but had been put on their website mistakenly.
Even this, though, is a far cry from a “typo,” which is something that, for instance, might occur upon typing out Saikat Chakrabarti’s name (I copy and paste it myself). No, in the document aren’t typos but a set of beliefs — someone’s beliefs. The document did not spontaneously generate. The letters did not magically assemble themselves in a politically troubling way on the sheet, like ocean waves quite accidentally washing rocks up on a beach to form an S.O.S.
Whose beliefs were they? The writing — e.g., “This is our moonshot” — sounds to me very much like the language Ocasio-Cortez uses when speaking. Of course, others could be feeding her ideas, but it would be interesting to see what a forensic writing-style analysis would conclude about authorship.
I suggested Monday that the FAQ’s release was likely no accident, that Ocasio-Cortez got so used to her radicalism getting a friendly reception that she just finally “went a Bolshevik bridge too far.” But let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that its release was accidental. Does this make the document less significant?
Question: What do you consider more likely the truth, what a person smoothly says to your face or what he utters behind your back? An accidentally released “planning document” is akin to being caught on a “hot mic” — you know, such as when Barack Obama was heard in 2012 telling then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he’d have “more flexibility” on missile defense after the election.
This is so obvious that wasting words on it is a shame. If something not meant for public consumption is irrelevant, why was any mind paid to Dwayne “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman’s released racial-epithet-laden private phone call, Mel Gibson’s private-phone-call rant against an ex-girlfriend, or the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape?
So we’re told the FAQ is immaterial; nothing to see here, moving along. But what we’re supposed to believe is preposterous: What a politician says or writes behind closed doors, when the cameras and mics are off and honesty costs nothing, is inconsequential.
But what the politician — a member of a breed notorious for lying to the public — says to the public while marketing policy, well, that we should believe.
As the common jokes about Ocasio-Cortez’ intellectual vacuity attest, many people think she’s stupid. Now we know the feeling is mutual.
Photo: AP Images