Are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's supposed enemies on the right secretly working to make her look cool? Because that's the impression you might gather from a series of weak-sauce attacks on the young congresswoman from New York, who was sworn in to office earlier today.
On Wednesday, an anonymous Twitter account affiliated with QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory, released video footage purportedly from Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's high school years (though her "Boston University" t-shirt suggests it was filmed while she was a college student). "Here is America's favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is," the anonymous account promised.
In a word, nope:
Here is America's favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is...— AnonymousQ (@AnonymousQ1776) January 2, 2019
...High School video of "Sandy" Ocasio-Cortezpic.twitter.com/s723Vga9zF
Not that this video needs any additional context—she's dancing, who cares?—but it's actually a reenactment of a parody of a famous scene from the beloved 1985 film The Breakfast Club, in which brat pack actors Molly Ringwald, Emilo Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy find themselves dancing in detention. In the late 2000s, various young people paid tribute to the scene by filming similar dance routines set to the Phoenix song "Lisztomania." (The first to do so was a group of friends that included Reason's own Elizabeth Nolan Brown, of all people.) Ocasio-Cortez's video looks pretty much like all the others; if anything, it's kind of adorable.
The video's leak follows weeks of attempts by some conservatives to paint the democratic socialist darling as inauthentic. The Gateway Pundit dug into her high school activities and treated the discovery that she used to go by the nickname "Sandy" as some kind of dark revelation. The article by Jim Hoft also attempted to undermine AOC's working-class credibility by pointing out that she attended an elite school in Yorktown rather than a struggling school in the Bronx. The Daily Wire's Michael Knowles has also advanced this line of argument, noting that AOC lived in relative comfort for most of her upbringing. But while Ocasio-Cortez may have occasionally overstated her working-class roots, she has always been relatively upfront abourt her time in Yorktown, and contrasted this privilege with what she encountered when she would visit the Bronx. Moreover, she did face economic insecurity after the death of her father, which forced her and her mother to work odd jobs in order to stave off foreclosure.
And then, of course, there was conservative writer Eddie Scarry's infamous creepy tweet in which he posted a picture from right behind Ocasio-Cortez, claiming "that jacket and coat don't look like a girl who struggles."
Conservatives who obsessively comment on Ocasio-Cortez's wardrobe and dance video are feeding into the narrative that the right is anti-women and doesn't treat them seriously. Bafflingly, they are also attacking her strengths. Being a young person with a sense of style is a good thing! Occasionally unwinding, dancing, and livestreaming dinner while taking questions from constituents: also good.
Stop wasting time on these personal attacks and criticize Ocasio-Cortez's socialist ideas instead. Explain why they are unaffordable and unworkable. For an example of going after Ocasio-Cortex the right way, see this post from my colleague Peter Suderman, who notes that by opposing pay-as-you-go accounting, AOC and her allies have signaled they won't even try to pay for their progressive policies.
But don't be surprised if deriding Ocasio-Cortez for, uh, having danced one time actually makes her more popular. If it's a personality contest, AOC has just about everybody in politics beat.
Photo Credit: Abaca Press/Douliery Olivier/Abaca/Sipa USA/Newscom