Great moments in political grandstanding

Politicians love to claim that they have the pulse of the people and speak for them when in fact most of them speak on behalf of the wealthy and the lobbyists. Kentucky Republican Andy Barr invited congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to visit his home district and talk to the coal miners there about the impact her Green New Deal would have on their livelihood.

“I want to invite the gentlelady to come to eastern Kentucky where thousands of coal miners no longer have paychecks,” he said. “I invite her to go underground with me and meet the men and women who do heroic work to power the American economy.”

No doubt Barr felt that she would be afraid to meet with real Merkins because only Republicans speak for them. But to his surprise, she accepted and tweeted that she looked forward to persuading his voters that it was she who was best representing their needs and interests and not Barr.

Ocasio-Cortez was quick to take him up on the offer.

“I’d be happy to,” she said, adding her proposal calls for “fully funding the pensions of coal miners in West Virginia and throughout Appalachia because we want a just transition to make sure that we’re investing in jobs across those swaths of the country.”

Realizing that she may make a good impression on his voters, Barr got cold feet and rescinded the invitation, saying that she first had to apologize to a Republican colleague of his for her criticisms of him. AOC not only said that she has no intention of apologizing but that she did not need an invitation from Barr to visit his district, and was going anyway.

Corbin Trent, a spokeswoman for the New York congresswoman, told CNN on Friday that they’ve been invited by other Kentuckians and that plans are in the works for a visit to the Bluegrass State on their own, though the exact timing is unclear.

“Luckily, we still have open borders with Kentucky, we are free to travel there,” Trent said. “We hope to visit and have a town hall, listen to concerns of workers in Kentucky.”

The congresswoman says [Barr’s] move was a sign that Republicans were having second thoughts about Ocasio-Cortez coming to Kentucky.

“GOP’s getting scared that up close, their constituents will realize I’m fighting harder for their health care than their own Reps,” she tweeted.

She also tweeted this week that she invited Barr to a town hall she did with MSNBC in New York at the end of March, but that he declined, saying the University of Kentucky had a game that night.

But the funniest thing is that it turns out that Barr’s district does not have any active coal mines at all, something that this ‘man of the people’ did not seem to know when he offered to take AOC ‘underground’ and to talk to the ‘thousands’ of coal miners in his district

AOC was quick to taunt him for his lack of knowledge about his own district.

One by one, Republicans are finding out that their attempts at gamesmanship with AOC are failing. One of those wising up is Barr’s congressional colleague from Kentucky. As Luke Darby writes:

James Comer, another Republican representative from Kentucky, told local news that he didn’t “see any upside” to having her come to Kentucky. “I think a lot of Republicans are making a mistake picking on her. I think we need to be very prepared when we debate her on issues that we’re having a hard time with.”

That’s a pretty low bar for political strategy—the idea that politicians should know what they’re talking about before engaging across the aisle—but Comer seems to be one of the few Republicans who’s figured it out so far. Instead of offering themselves up for the next of Ocasio-Cortez’s viral tweet dunks, other members of his party would be smart to follow his lead.

Meanwhile AOC tweet dunks on Barr one more time.


  1. blf says

    They™ seem to not — or at least rarely — go beyond seeing a young, articulate, Puerto Rican, woman who uses the dreaded word “socialist” and isn’t wealthy, and ignore what she is saying. What They™ see is almost-everything they fear and loathe, and do not go any further than that.

    Ilhan Omar is another example of this, with the additional frightener that she, gasp!, wears a hijab!

    Which is not to say some of Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s and Ms Omar’s colleagues in the dummie party are too much better; e.g., Nancy Pelosi shows no restraint in disparaging young progressive women:

    Have you heard of the “inappropriate in Ireland” rule? No, I haven’t either. But according to Nancy Pelosi it’s a thing. On Friday, the House speaker was asked whether Congress was planning to impeach Donald Trump, a question that’s kinda top of mind at the moment. Pelosi, who was in Belfast, refused to comment, telling journalists it wouldn’t be appropriate to criticize the president while she’s abroad.

    It’s strange that Pelosi should care about the etiquette of when and where it is appropriate to criticize a morally bankrupt demagogue who is clearly unfit for office. Particularly as she doesn’t seem bound by any geographical restrictions when it comes to disparaging the progressive young women in her own party.

    There seems to be no rule about not insulting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from abroad, for example. On Monday, Pelosi told an audience at the London School of Economics that a “glass of water” could have won a seat in Ocasio-Cortez’s “solidly Democratic” district. Which rather glosses over the fact that 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez defeated Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent, in the primaries. And completely misses the point that Ocasio-Cortez was elected because people are desperate for real change, not more establishment centrists like Crowley. (Who, by the way, then went off to join a corporate lobbying firm that reps clients from the fossil fuel industry.)

    Pelosi also doesn’t seem to find it necessary to treat Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar with much respect. She has made it abundantly clear that she sees Omar as a nuisance to be dealt with, rather than a colleague to be defended. When Trump recently tweeted a racist video dishonestly accusing Omar of minimizing 9/11, the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders jumped to Omar’s defence. Pelosi’s reaction, meanwhile, was to not mention Omar’s name and tweet a thinly veiled jab about the memory of 9/11 being sacred ground.

    Pelosi has been very vocal about the fact that she thinks the way Democrats will beat Trump is by staying firmly in the centre, and has repeatedly downplayed the influence of Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives. Just a day before her “glass of water” insult, Pelosi dismissed the more left-leaning faction of the Democratic party as “like, five people” during an interview on 60 Minutes. She’s also sneered at initiatives like the Green New Deal, which she has described as “the green dream, or whatever they call it”. The House speaker has been happy to wax lyrical about how young and diverse her party is, but clearly isn’t so happy to actually listen to those new voices.


  2. Mano Singham says


    Just in case that was a serious question and not a humorous aside, I think she wants to show that the things she is proposing have widespread appeal.

  3. Mano Singham says


    Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and the entire top leadership of the democratic party are terrified by the things that the young progressives are proposing, seeing it as threatening the comfortable system that enables wealthy people like them to continue. They fear that the next wave of incumbents to be targeted will be them.

  4. says

    @Mano #4,

    I get that. But she recently said that she wants to cut back on social media, probably because it takes too much of her time. I assume she has enough on her plate with her work in DC and NYC. She could have brushed off Barr easily.

  5. blf says

    Jörg, Possibly an “inability” so say No! Also, quite possibly, an awareness of refusing direct challenges and / or ignoring direct attacks can easily by “spin” into a highly-misleading, or completely false, narrative. And / or as Ilhan Omar put it, “I did not run for Congress to be silent” (‘I won’t be silent’: Ilhan Omar answers Trump 9/11 attack). Or Rashida Tlaib (same source): “Enough is enough… No more silence, with NY Post and now Trump taking Ilhan’s words out of context to incite violence toward her, it’s time for more Dems to speak up. Clearly the GOP is fine with this shameful stunt, but we cannot stand by.”

    She might respond thoughtfully if asked…

  6. Mano Singham says


    This is a good move on her part to get greater publicity for the programs she supports. Just like Bernis Sanders, when she goes into what is considered unfriendly territory and makes a good case, it creates more positive coverage than talking only to her base.

  7. says

    Jörg #3:

    Is she preparing her 2024 run for the White House? 😉

    Or maybe she’s got this crazy idea in her head that she’s allowed to be concerned about all Americans and not just those in her district?! 😮

    Seriously, I find the idea that a representative is supposed to represent their district and their district only a bit…disturbing, for lack of a better word at this moment. (Or even the idea that one is to heavily focus on their district over any others bothers me.) It seems too common of an idea. (To be clear, I’m not suggesting that is what you’re suggesting…your comment just made me think about this problem.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *