For Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, being the youngest woman ever elected to Congress and a Latina who happens to have the word “socialist” in her party identification means enduring a ceaseless spotlight and a constant stream of criticism from conservatives who tell the world to dismiss her views and opinions.
A consistent line of attack has been that Ocasio-Cortez, 29, is young and inexperienced. There have also been suggestions that her humble upbringing is a carefully crafted narrative meant to endear her to naive members of the electorate.
Some of the congresswoman-elect’s responses to the vitriol have been forceful — as when John Cardillo, a host of Newsmax’s “America Talks Live,” told his followers that Ocasio-Cortez lived in a too-nice house in a “very nice area” before going to Brown University.
“A far cry from the Bronx hood upbringing she’s selling,” he said.
“Your attempt to strip me of my family, my story, my home, and my identity is exemplary of how scared you are of the power of all four of those things,” Ocasio-Cortez shot back on Twitter.
He was not the last conservative to receive a social media gut punch from Ocasio-Cortez, as she has shown herself to be particularly deft at weaponizing Twitter.
Exhibit A is a tweet that served as her response to a series of recent attacks by critics. Eric Trump shared a meme on Instagram suggesting that if Ocasio-Cortez’s policies came to fruition, Americans would be forced to eat dogs. Mike Huckabee called her “looney.” Kellyanne Conway said that Ocasio-Cortez “doesn’t seem to know much about anything.”
Ocasio-Cortez responded with this:
She was referring to the awkward moment during Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee meeting that was supposed to be a showdown between Rep. Steve King and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai. The scowling Iowa Republican held up his iPhone and shared an anecdote about some potty-mouthed anti-Steve King content his granddaughter discovered on her device.
“I’m not going to say into the record what kind of language was used around that picture of her grandfather,” King said, staring at the tech executive, “but I ask you, how does that show up on a 7-year-old’s iPhone that’s playing a kid’s game?”
Pichai took a deep breath, leaned into the microphone and patiently replied: “Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company.”
Ocasio-Cortez derided Conway in a follow-up tweet Wednesday, saying the president’s adviser has “been engaged in a war on facts since Inauguration Day.”
If Ocasio-Cortez has become particularly good at nailing her critics on Twitter, it’s probably because of the sheer amount of practice she’s had.
As The Washington Post’s Avi Selk wrote last month, “belittling the far-left, 29-year-old congresswoman-elect has lately become something of a popular sport on the right-wing Internet.”
Selk was writing about former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who told her followers: “YIKES: Ocasio-Cortez Fumbles Basic Civics TWICE in 1 Statement,” when the congresswoman-elect talked about Democrats' chances of winning “all three chambers of government.”
Many, many people let Palin know that civics had never been a strong point for her and came to Ocasio-Cortez’s aid, reminding Palin that she had encouraged Americans “to stand with our North Korean allies,” called Afghanistan “our neighboring country,” claimed to be able to see Russia from Alaska, and bungled the relatively simple story of Paul Revere’s ride.
But later, Ocasio-Cortez’s defenders learned that she was more than capable of standing up for herself.
Ocasio-Cortez’s trolling went bilingual in November when a Fox News show, “The Story,” had a prime-time discussion about Ocasio-Cortez’s shoes, including an acknowledgment that the network spent a lot of time talking about a woman who had not even been sworn into Congress yet.
The lyrics are in Spanish, but the dig at Fox News is clear in the last few words of the tweet:
“What you feel is called obsession.”