Via Mediaite, eventually the wider media will shift from the position that “AOC is a fresh-faced phenom whom Congress needs more of” to “AOC needs to stop thinking she’s bigger than the party,” with plenty of behind-the-scenes urging from her colleagues inside the caucus on the latter point. Whoopi’s just ahead of the curve. If and when an ideological rift develops between the leadership and Ocasio-Cortez that pits Democrats against each other at a moment in which the GOP stands to benefit from it, then you’ll see it in full force.
I’ve started to think of her as the left’s version Sarah Palin 2009. Both were young and little known when they pulled momentous upsets to win their first major race; both achieved national political fame overnight; both built potent populist brands by pairing unusual personal authenticity with ideological purity; both developed immense, intensely loyal grassroots followings as a result that made them a counterweight within their party to leaders in Washington; both were, let us say, not overly concerned with the finer details of public policy. I don’t sense the same contempt for AOC on the right that greeted Palin from the left, though, notwithstanding the occasional bizarre objection from righty populists that she used a nickname while in college or whatever. I think she’s more an object of fascination: Leftists, especially far-leftists, aren’t supposed to be personally relatable in the righty narrative. Ocasio-Cortez is. But then, she doesn’t yet post the immediate threat to the right that Palin did to the left when she joined the presidential ticket and briefly threatened to derail Hopenchange before it reached the White House. No doubt AOC will be fully and thoroughly hated by Republicans if/when she seeks higher office.
The funniest part of Whoopi’s shpiel, by the way, is her reaching for Dianne Feinstein of all people as an example of a Democrat to whom Ocasio-Cortez owes a debt. It’s fair enough for her to say John Lewis; he’s treated as a secular saint within the party and beyond. But Feinstein was primaried from the left in California last year and is derided by progressives as a consummately mushy hawkish mainstream neoliberal. She may have even blown their chance to take out Brett Kavanaugh by not pursuing Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations sooner and more aggressively. All Goldberg means, I take it, is that Feinstein is a well-known woman senator and that her example of female leadership has made it easier for young women like Ocasio-Cortez to get elected. But hoo boy. This is like telling Palin in 2010 to be grateful that John Boehner is in Congress paving the way for her.