Monday, July 02, 2018


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made an appearance on Meet the Press yesterday. She is, in in all likelihood, a future congresswoman with very progressive positions on a number of serious issues:

So when Chuck Todd spent more than seven minutes interviewing Ocasio-Cortez yesterday, did he ask her about any of these issues? Medicare for All? A universal jobs guarantee? Criminal justice reform? Of course not. All that was on his mind was the horse race. What does Ocasio-Cortez's primary win against Joe Crowley say about the state of the Democratic Party? Does her tactical approach to politics clash with that of the current Democratic mainstream? Does this mean Democrats are in disarray? Who's up? Who's down?

Here's the complete interview:

I will now reproduce every question Todd asked Ocasio-Cortez. First, there was this:

You're not a congresswoman-elect yet. You do have a general election, but it is a pretty strongly Democratic seat. So let me first start with something that Nancy Pelosi said about your victory earlier this week. Take a listen.



They made a choice in one district. So let's not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that within the caucus or outside the caucus. It is not to be viewed as something that stands for everything else.



She was a bit defensive, a lot of people coming at her saying your victory means a lot more than just a primary win in the Bronx. How did you react to that?
After that, Todd asked a couple of questions about what might have prevented Ocasio-Cortez from being such a pest that she felt it necessary to challenge an entrenched incumbent:
I'm curious, if Joe Crowley had found out you were, you know, thinking about running and he called you up and said, ‘What am I doing wrong? You know, what would you like to see from me? What would you like to see me do that would make you say, You know what? I'll stand down this cycle and see what you do.'


What would you have said to him if he had asked you for advice about how to win your vote before you decided to run against him?


Meaning you never saw him in your mind? That the district never saw him, is that what you're saying?
Todd moved on to the Supreme Court vacancy -- but not, of course, to any of the issues on which the next Justice could be a deciding vote. Again, the line of questioning was all about tactics.
Some of your energy and some of the energy behind you and some of the energy behind other progressives has to do with almost the tone and tactics of the Democratic leadership. I'm curious, what was your reaction to Senator Cantwell earlier today in how she described how she would like to fight on the Supreme Court?


What do you want to see?
Ocasio-Cortez says that when Republicans "want to bend and break the rules and stretch the Constitution to its limits, they'll do it. But when they're on the other side of the table, it's, ‘Whoa, decorum.’" Todd asks:
So do you want Democrats to borrow some of those tactics? I mean, because that's the tricky game here, right?
She said yes and Todd asked,
Which is, you know, do two wrongs make a right?
It's news to me that Todd considers Republican hardball tactics to be a "wrong," but I guess he does when Democrats use them.

Here's Todd's final question about the Court fight -- it was, of course, an effort to make Ocasio-Cortez attack a fellow Democrat:
So what do you want Senate Democrats to do that you didn't hear from Senator Cantwell this morning?
Todd's next question began with a ray of hope:
Let me talk about some of your policy positions.
But Todd didn't actually talk about any of Ocasio-Cortez's policy positions. When he said this, what he really meant was "Let me talk about that booga-booga word 'socialism.'"
Let me talk about some of your policy positions. First, explain this to me. You were endorsed by a group, the democratic socialists. And you have embraced this label. And I think The New York Times has a headline this morning, that sort of, ‘Millennials have embraced socialism.’ What is your definition of democratic socialist?
And then more of the same:
Some Democrats are afraid of the S word. Older Americans hear socialism and they tie it to sort of ugly governments from Europe and the past. Do you -- how do you sell this to an older generation?


Are you a democratic socialist? Is that what you'd call yourself or you don't want that label?
And then ... one final question about potential Democratic infighting.
All right. You defeated a potential future speaker. Should Nancy Pelosi be that next speaker of the House or should be a new generation?
That's it. Seven minutes of nothing.

Ocasio-Cortez did as well as she could with what she was given, but she was treated as a freak of nature, not as a politician with ideas worth discussing.

I'd say that this is just Chuck Todd's standard M.O., but I found an interview Todd did with Republican Dave Brat immediately after his upset victory over Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary in Virginia, and here are the first three questions:
Do you believe your victory is all the immigration issue? Do you say -- if people say, "Well, you won this on immigration," you would say yes or you would say, "Well, it's more than that"?


Would you call yourself an anti-Wall Street Republican?


Where are you on the minimum wage? Do you believe in it and would you raise it?

Todd went on to ask about trade agreements. He went on to ask about arming Syrian rebels. It was a substantive interview.

The interview with Ocasio-Cortez wasn't. I don't know if that was because she's young and female, because the only thought Todd and other insiders have about Democrats is "What's wrong with them?" (see also excessive coverage of Hillary Clinton's emails), or because the issues Ocasio-Cortez talked about are simply beyond the pale for our political elite. But Todd's work in that segment was a disgrace.

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