Was it really a “nice meeting,” as Nancy Pelosi put it, or was it more of a let’s-get-the-command-lines-straight showdown with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? It certainly started off as all smiles:
Today, Congresswoman @RepAOC and I sat down to discuss working together to meet the needs of our districts and our country, fairness in our economy and diversity in our country. pic.twitter.com/eVp1LS0Gpw
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 26, 2019
How did it end up? If you believe Pelosi, somewhat generically:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is downplaying any differences with high-profile progressive lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying she had a “nice meeting” Friday with the social media dynamo who’s made some tart observations about the Democratic leadership team.
Pelosi told reporters that “I don’t think we have that many differences” despite some sharp words back and forth recently with “AOC,” as she’s referred to by her 4.9 million followers on Twitter.
The Associated Press took note of one surprising outcome afterward:
Ocasio-Cortez avoided reporters after her meeting with Pelosi.
Really? That would be a first. Normally, one of the most dangerous places to be is between Ocasio-Cortez and any opportunity for self-promotion. That, in fact, is one of the problems that Pelosi has had with AOC Plus 3 — their self-promotion at the expense of a cohesive caucus message. It’s not the only problem, of course; Ocasio-Cortez’ work with Justice Democrats to find primary challengers against Pelosi’s allies is another, as is AOC’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti, who founded the group.
After Wednesday’s impeachment-advocate debacle, it looks more like Pelosi’s looking to settle all of the accounts. Her response to a question from CBS’ Nancy Cordes about the meeting at Pelosi’s daily presser didn’t exactly suggest that this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It’s all about “respect” as much as it is “diversity,” in what sounds like a pointed message to grandstanding first-termers going on television to slag her:
Pelosi on @AOC: "So we have our differences. Respect that, instead of making a big issue of it. Our differences and how we express ourselves as representatives of our districts is our responsibility." https://t.co/ewTTRfZuJX pic.twitter.com/2E2fH8NCed
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 26, 2019
Cordes scoffs when Pelosi says there wasn’t any “hatchet” to bury, noting that Ocasio-Cortez ripped her publicly. Pelosi stepped carefully around the point:
“The congresswoman is a very gracious member of congress so we had a very positive conversation about our districts and how we represent them,” she added. “We have been engaged in differences in opinion in our caucus and that is a good thing.”
Cordes later pressed the speaker about familial infighting.
“It’s like you’re in a family and in a family you have your differences, but you’re still a family. Does your family always agree on everything?” Pelosi asked Cordes.
“Sometimes we have meetings to clear the air,” Cordes replied.
“You have meetings in your family? Oh my god, well you may be a model for us all,” Pelosi retorted.
That beats Pelosi’s reaction immediately after the meeting, which also suggested that it wasn’t all sweetness and light (via Townhall):
“I wish you would be interested in [my meeting] from yesterday on $ 4 community health centers.”
— Rachael Bade (@rachaelmbade) July 26, 2019
If Ocasio-Cortez is avoiding reporters, that’s at least a gain for Pelosi. But it certainly would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall for that tète-a-tète. If AOC puts out a “help wanted” sign for her chief of staff position, as several in her caucus want, then perhaps this might not have been just a confab between pals.