Monday, both the Washington Post and the NY Times wrote articles about the appearance and disappearance of the Green New Deal FAQ. Both articles adopted the self-serving explanations of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Chief of Staff who had belatedly claimed over the weekend that the whole thing was a big mistake. The Green New Deal FAQ, which contained lines about “farting cows” and guaranteed economic security for people “unwilling to work,” was never meant to see the light of day, they claimed. For the Times and the Post, that explanation was good enough.
To its credit, Vox’s take on this story does not read like a press release written by AOC’s office. There’s still a whole section of the piece devoted to conservatives seizing on the language in the FAQ but then comes this admission:
Ocasio Cortez’s staff doesn’t have a clear explanation for what happened
There hasn’t been a lot of clarity on exactly how this fact sheet got sent out to numerous media organizations at the same time as the final Green New Deal resolution. Ocasio-Cortez’s office has said there is a fact sheet that was intentionally doctored, and also that an unfinished draft got sent out and posted on their website before it was ready for prime time.“There are multiple doctored GND resolutions and FAQs floating around,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted this weekend. “There was also a draft version that got uploaded + taken down. There’s also draft versions floating out there.”
But for the most part, Ocasio-Cortez’s office has backed away from Hockett’s assertion that the fact sheet was doctored and sent out by Republicans, saying that it was a mistake. In a string of Saturday tweets, Chakrabarti provided more clarity about the rollout of the Green New Deal and what went wrong with the fact sheet release.
“We did this in collaboration with a bunch of groups and offices over the course of the last month,” Chakrabarti tweeted on Saturday. “As part of that process, there were multiple iterations, brainstorming docs, FAQs, etc. that we shared. Some of these early drafts got leaked.”
Per Chakrabarti’s account, this fact sheet got “leaked” before it was ready; a statement that doesn’t quite match up with the accounts of multiple news organizations who say Ocasio-Cortez’s office sent them the fact sheet along with the final resolution.
Here’s someone from NPR confirming that the FAQ wasn’t a leak it was a document emailed to them by AOC’s office:
I'm so sorry — i'm late to this. Was ignoring political twitter during a weekend vacay and am catching up. At any rate, that FAQ we published wasn't leaked to us. It was emailed to us by AOC staff. Just to be clear on NPR's behalf.
OK, back to the current news cycle. https://t.co/A3dxQFGk9f
— Danielle Kurtzleben (@titonka) February 11, 2019
So in order to believe the story being told by AOC’s Chief of Staff you have to believe that the FAQ was accidentally published on her website two days before the rollout, including a linked headline which appeared on the front page of her site. And you have to believe that as part of the media rollout her staff accidentally emailed the FAQ to numerous media organizations. This obviously strains credulity, except at the Washington Post and the NY Times. Kudos to Vox for choosing not playing along with this nonsense.
Finally, since we’re on the topic of the Green New Deal, Jonathan Chait has a story at New York magazine today which is broadly critical of the plan. He says it’s too vague, too unrealistic in its climate goals, and too packed with a wish list of other progressive priorities. Last week I wrote that the GND made sense as a coherent whole if you assumed its goal was to save the world by ending capitalism. Today, Chait reaches a similar conclusion:
Presented with a gigantic problem like climate change, people who believe capitalism is the root of all problems will naturally and earnestly gravitate toward solutions that require dismantling capitalism.
Afew years ago, Naomi Klein wrote a book laying out the case for why climate change required a revolutionary attack on global capitalism. Her argument, while deeply flawed and frequently self-contradictory, anticipates the Green New Deal’s ideological character. Klein not only disdained the value of using prices to efficiently allocate the cost of greenhouse gas emissions, she celebrated the defeat of the cap-and-trade bill in Congress as a victory for real climate progress against the sinister forces of neoliberalism.
If you believe, as Klein does, that the only path to saving the planet lies in broader economic change, then it makes perfect sense to wrap the cause of climate change tightly to socialism.
He doesn’t explicitly circle back to AOC, but that’s the gist. If you turn your entire domestic agenda over to an inexperienced Democratic Socialist, you’re going to get something that looks like the Green New Deal. AOC isn’t including a grab bag of other priorities because she thinks she can get away with it. She’s doing it because she believes capitalism is the root of the problem and tearing that root from the ground is what the seemingly extraneous parts of the GND are really about.