My instinct is to finish that headline with “And then I know for sure that I’m unfit,” but no, that’s not her point. A sitting member of Congress who somehow has zero idea of what we spend on national defense wants to have a test o’ fitness with, of all people, Mike Lee.
Mike Lee. Not Matt Gaetz. Not Louie Gohmert or Steve King or some other ripe target for mockery. The guy she’s using as her barometer for congressional fitness is brainy enough to be a Supreme Court candidate and one of the more policy-focused Republicans in Congress, sufficiently independent in his conservatism that he recently voted with Democrats to cancel Trump’s border emergency and to withdraw U.S. assistance for the Saudi war in Yemen. Granted, he’s an ardent opponent of her pet project, the Green New Deal; go figure that a fiscal hawk would be nervous about a $93 trillion outlay when even Barack Obama’s nervous about it. But if there’s any right-winger in the Senate who might be willing to work with her and other progressives on subjects of mutual interest, it’s Lee.
So naturally here she is essentially calling him a moron.
A fun synergy between him and Ocasio-Cortez: Off the top of my head, I believe they’re the two most famous examples of successful primary challengers in Congress. Sen. Bob Bennett’s defeat in a multi-candidate Utah Senate primary that led to Lee’s victory in 2010 was effectively the start of the tea-party movement as an electoral force. Eight years later, AOC’s upset of Joe Crowley may be the beginning of a similar progressive grassroots backlash to incumbents nationally. Her lament about “imposter syndrome” might be something Lee himself experienced early on as an unlikely senator. There is unlikely common ground here, if she could get past the insults.
Don’t be too hard on her, though. Watch this speech, which is very different from the usual Lee fare, and see how much respect he has for her signature proposal. Nothing communicates disdain for an opponent quite like a picture of Aquaman riding a sea horse.