May 19, 2019


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Self-Limiting Revolution (Andrew Ferguson, 5/18/19,  The Atlantic)

Representative Joseph Crowley. At the time of his gibbeting, Crowley was the fourth-ranking member of the House Democratic leadership. Pink and fleshy, with a toothy perma-grin, he could have been drawn by Thomas Nast to represent the Machine Hack, the very symbol of complacent incumbent. He saw Ocasio-Cortez coming too late and never knew what hit him.

The film leaves it unclear what Crowley's offense was, why he deserved his unhorsing--beyond being one of the world's seemingly bottomless supply of "white dudes in suits," to use the phrase of one activist in Knock Down the House. (It's the filmmakers' bad luck that they never caught him wearing a suit.) As a liberal Democrat, he sat in the middle of his caucus ideologically--no Barbara Lee or Jamie Raskin, but a reliable "yes" vote on whatever enthusiasm public-employee unions and environmentalists placed before him.

Crowley initially avoided a debate with Ocasio-Cortez but at last relented. She tagged him for living in suburban Virginia rather than his district, as so many congressional lifers do, and for sending his children to school in their neighborhood rather than to the diploma mills back home (ditto). Crowley, she charged, helped defeat an obscure amendment to the Dodd-Frank bank-regulation bill; the amendment would have helped "working families," Ocasio-Cortez assures us. And although Crowley did his duty and called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) "fascist," he refused to join Ocasio-Cortez in her demand that the agency be abolished.

"If you think this system is fascist," she said to Crowley, "then why don't you vote to eliminate it?"

He had no answer. That's how you know when a congressman has been in Washington too long: He loses the courage of his own demagoguery.

Posted by at May 19, 2019 7:18 PM