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Realizing that she may make a good impression on his voters, Barr got cold feet and rescinded the invitation, saying that she first had to apologize to a Republican colleague of his for her criticisms of him.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.
As it turns out, Rep. Barr has the same amount of coal mines in his district as I do in mine!
Who says Dems and GOP can’t find things in common? 😉 https://t.co/RxgDntxftG
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 19, 2019
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.
GOP’s getting scared that up close, their constituents will realize I’m fighting harder for their healthcare than their own Reps 🙂 https://t.co/TVSafpJWEd
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 16, 2019