Yesterday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a swipe at the GOP for criticizing her dry sense of humor. Specifically, she said you’d have to have the “intelligence of a sea sponge” to think she was being literal when she said the world was ending in 12 years:
This is a technique of the GOP, to take dry humor + sarcasm literally and “fact check” it.
Like the “world ending in 12 years” thing, you’d have to have the social intelligence of a sea sponge to think it’s literal.
But the GOP is basically Dwight from The Office so who knows. https://t.co/pmkwrdeAnq
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 12, 2019
The tweet she linked is not a reference to her statements about climate change but to another controversy she created over the weekend talking about taxing the rich. I wrote about it here but let’s stick with her comment about climate change. Here’s what AOC said at an event in January:
“Millenials and Gen Z and all these folks that came after us are looking up and we’re like ‘The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change and your biggest issue is how are we going to pay for it?’” Ocasio Cortez said. She added, “And, like, this is the war, this is our World War II.”
Is saying climate change is this generation’s World War II a joke? I don’t think so. When I wrote about this back in January I described her statement as “hyperbole” but she wasn’t using dry humor here. It helps to actually see the video of her saying this because you can see how absolutely earnest she is about all of it. She refers to America as “dystopian” just a few lines later, painting a picture of people with two jobs and no health insurance living in their cars. Is that supposed to be humor?
As for her complaint about being fact-checked. Reason did do an excellent fact-check of her claim about the world ending which I wrote about here. There’s no danger the world will end even if we do nothing about climate change. The danger highlighted by the IPCC report AOC is relying on is an 8.2% decline in GDP relative to a scenario where climate change is mitigated. That’s certainly worth talking about, as is the potential for sea-level rise and other related problems, but it’s not global doom. The problem, as always, with AOC is that she focuses on the costs of doing nothing while avoiding any discussion of the cost of her preferred alternative.
AOC is presenting us with a stark choice between a less prosperous future (GDP losses as high as 8.2 percent) and a Democratic Socialist future with no downside and no cost. But that’s not an honest presentation of the choice she’s offering. To really decide how to proceed, we’d need some kind of estimate of the cost of AOC’s socialist alternative. But when asked what her GND will cost or how we will pay for it, she can’t answer or refuses to answer on the grounds that we’re in too much of a hurry to worry about it. She’s literally touting the cost of doing nothing while dodging the question of what it would cost to do something.
How dare you ask what it will cost! This is the end of the world! This is World War II! That sort of moral panic argument is a lot easier to make than a clear case for how we could afford her policies. The fact that she’s now claiming those statements were merely dry humor suggests she does have some sense of embarrassment over making them. One thing that has been very consistent with AOC so far: If she’s caught embarrassing herself, it’s always someone else’s fault. In this case, the GOP just doesn’t get her dry humor.
For the record, here’s a guy usually associated with deadpan/dry humor. If this is what AOC is trying to do, she needs to keep working on her act.