Why the GOP is pan­ick­ing over Oca­sio-Cortez

Star-Telegram - - Opinion - BY LEONARD PITTS JR. Mi­ami Her­ald Email Leonard Pitts Jr. at [email protected]­ami­her­ald.com.

Haven’t we seen this movie be­fore?

Cer­tainly, there is a sense of deja vu all over again as one watches the right wing hy­per­ven­ti­late over a cer­tain fresh­man con­gress­woman from New York. The at­tacks on Alexan­dria Oca­sioCortez have been fre­quent and fu­ri­ous, but also petty, silly and (in the men­tal-health sense) hys­ter­i­cal.

Just days ago, The Daily Caller tweeted “the photo some peo­ple are call­ing a nude selfie of Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez.” But it turns out “some peo­ple” are mo­rons. The so-called “nude selfie,” de­picts only a woman’s feet in a bath­tub. Yes, some ob­servers claim her bare breasts are vis­i­ble in a re­flec­tion on the faucet, but if that’s true, your hum­ble cor­re­spon­dent lacks the eye­sight – and the in­ter­est – to make them out.

Not that it mat­ters, be­cause Oca­sio-Cortez is ac­tu­ally not the woman in the im­age, as The Daily Caller was even­tu­ally forced to con­cede. So this was a po­lit­i­cal hit job wrapped in a Three Stooges rou­tine. She seems to at­tract a lot of those.

There’s the since­sus­pended Twit­ter ac­count that tweeted a video of Oca­sio-Cortez danc­ing on a rooftop when she was in col­lege. “Amer­ica’s fa­vorite com­mie know-it-all act­ing like the clue­less nitwit she is,” the tweet said. Ap­par­ently, we’re meant to be apoplec­tic to learn she once suf­fered boo­gie fever.

And so it goes. Repub­li­cans in Congress boo when her name is called. Her wardrobe and lodg­ing are scru­ti­nized. GOP op­er­a­tive Ed Rollins dubs her “the lit­tle girl.” Rush Lim­baugh calls her “some young up­pity.”

All this lav­ish abuse, it bears re­peat­ing, is for a fresh­man rep­re­sen­ta­tive who, at this writ­ing, has yet to do much of any­thing in Congress. Yes, like Bernie Sanders – and Martin Luther King Jr. – Oca­sio-Cortez is drawn to demo­cratic so­cial­ism. It’s fair to ques­tion her ide­ol­ogy. It’s fair to ques­tion any­one’s ide­ol­ogy. But that’s not what this is.

No, this is that movie we’ve seen be­fore where the right wing, alarmed by the rise of the scary Other, seeks to man­u­fac­ture scan­dal, spread ru­mor, sow con­fu­sion, im­pute some sense of the sin­is­ter. The less they have to work with, the more shrill, des­per­ate and id­i­otic they be­come.

Back then, it was Barack Obama. He wore a tan suit, and con­ser­va­tives sank onto their faint­ing couches. He greeted his wife with a fist bump and Fox “News” thought it might be ter­ror­ism.

Obama’s “oth­er­ness” came of be­ing a black guy with a funny name. Oca­sio-Cortez, though, hits the tri­fecta. She is young (29), a woman and of Puerto Ri­can her­itage. Add her ide­ol­ogy to that mix, and you have a per­fect storm of panic for those who con­sider power the birthright of gray­haired white men.

Oca­sio-Cortez is an­other un­wel­come re­minder for them that change is here – and that power will hence­forth no longer be the prov­ince of a fa­vored few. They’ve had over a decade to ac­cli­mate them­selves to that, so it is sad to see the right wing re­treat in­stead to the same old script – es­pe­cially since it in­evitably re­veals more about them and their fraidy-cat big­otry than any­thing else.

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