CNN Politics Reporter and Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza wrote in an opinion-editorial published Thursday that, despite Democrats “desperately seeking a savior,” Democratic-socialist and New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is far from ready to lead the Party.
The impetus of Cillizza’s piece focuses on the already gaffe-prone 28-year-old’s embarrassing interview with PBS’s Margaret Hoover, in which Ocasio-Cortez served up harsh criticism of Israel, and seconds later, conceded she was not well read on geopolitics. Following her victory over incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) on June 27, Ocasio-Cortez was crowned the Democratic Party’s “it girl” despite “any sort of deep dive into what all she believes,” the CNN reporter notes.
Which leads to moments like this one, which occurred during an interview with Margaret Hoover for PBS’ “Firing Line” in which Ocasio-Cortez gets herself into trouble when she starts talking about the Middle East and referring to Israelis who have settled in the West Bank as occupiers of Palestine. Hoover follows up, smartly, and Ocasio-Cortez begins to talk about an increase in settlements that makes it more difficult for Palestinians to access “their housing.” Sensing that she is making things worse not better, Ocasio-Cortez admits: “I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue.”
The reason this awkward incident with Ocasio-Cortez is worth highlighting is because it speaks to the danger for Democrats of latching onto every Next Big Thing that comes along. Ocasio-Cortez could well be a future leader of the party and, at present, represents the beating heart of its liberal, activist wing. But she is not the perfect politician. She is not the person who has the magic formula to reverse the Trump presidency or to win the ongoing fight over the future direction of the party in 2020 and beyond.
This tendency to conflate the newest thing with the best thing is always stronger in the party out of power at any given time in Washington. Democrats are out of the White House and in the minority in the House and Senate. They are desperately seeking a savior — and Ocasio-Cortez, for some, fits that bill.
Ocasio-Cortez has made numerous eyebrow-raising statements since appearing on the national scene. When asked by Hoover if capitalism was no longer good for working-class Americans, the 27-year-old bizarrely claimed that evidence of the economic system’s failure lies in the fact that U.S. unemployment is trending downward due to “everyone” having two jobs.
“Well, I think the numbers you just talked about is part of the problem, right? We look at these figures and we say, ‘Oh, unemployment is low, everything is fine,’ right?” Ocasio-Cortez said, adding, “Well, unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs. Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their kids.”
In a panel discussion with Democracy Now!, the Democratic-socialist urged people to protest against the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy by occupying U.S. airports and border facilities until separated migrant minors are reunited with the adults with whom they crossed the border.
“I believe the moral character of the United States is at stake. So for me, it wasn’t a question of whether I should go down [to the border]. We have to have a rapid response,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And I think every day that we go on — especially a day when something that heinous happens — we have to occupy all of it. We need to occupy every airport, we need to occupy every border, we need to occupy every ICE office until those kids are back with their parents, period.”
A fact-check by Breitbart News last month discovered Ocasio-Cortez was misleading the public about her upbringing by claiming to be a “Bronx-girl,” despite growing up in Yorktown Heights, a well-to-do suburb of Westchester County. Among other far-left policies noted above, Ocasio-Cortez supports universal basic income, single-payer health care, and the impeachment of President Donald Trump.