Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a shot at Hillary Clinton in a TV interview Sunday, suggesting she lost the presidency in 2016 in part because she was too boring to vote for.
Asked by ABC’s Jonathan Karl on “This Week” whether she would support Joe Biden if he were the Democratic nominee for president, Ocasio-Cortez suggested she would, if only in the name of defeating President Donald Trump. However, she held up Clinton as a cautionary tale – using language some feminists have previously condemned as sexist.
“I think when it comes to who we select as a presidential candidate, we have to really factor in the enthusiasm of voters,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I think that was an issue that we had in 2016, and so I think that we need to pick a candidate that is going to be exciting to vote for. That all people, women, people of all genders, races, income levels, geographies, feel excited and good about voting for. And so I think that’s really what we should be looking for.”
The New York Democrat also warned: “I think that we have a very real risk of losing the presidency to Donald Trump if we do not have a presidential candidate that is fighting for true transformational change in the lives of working people in the United States.”
Contrary to the position of her party leadership, Ocasio-Cortez advocated opening an impeachment inquiry against Trump, political consequences be damned.
In another comment Clinton is sure to dislike, Ocasio-Cortez conceded that Democrats “probably” made a mistake by, as Karl put it, “giving [former President] Bill Clinton a pass all those years over his treatment of women.”
Still not an Amazon woman
Pressed for her views on Biden’s well-documented history of handiness with women, Ocasio-Cortez answered on behalf of female voters instead. She said her sense is that Democratic women aren’t “quite locked down” for Biden. But she added that the issue is not about “right and wrong” or whether Biden is a “bad person” or a “good person.”
“I don’t think that voters think that he is necessarily guilty of sexual misconduct or anything like that. But I do think that there may be some discomfort,” she said, citing a report last week that Biden tasked a 13-year-old girl’s brothers to “keep the guys away from” her. ”
Ocasio-Cortez was similarly amoral on the issue of abortion. After giving Biden’s a pass for flip-flopping last week on the Hyde Amendment – a ban on federal funding of abortion that he long supported and now opposes – she said the law isn’t really about abortion anyway. Rather, she claimed, it’s about social justice and democratic socialism.
“The Hyde Amendment isn’t about abortion per se. The Hyde Amendment is truly about equality of healthcare and healthcare access for low-income women and women of color and women who get caught in our mass incarceration system,” she said. “And so, the Hyde Amendment is about income inequality, and it’s about women’s healthcare in a system of inequality. So, I think that we need to repeal it.”
At the end of the interview, Karl finally got around to quizzing Ocasio-Cortez on her left-wing economic agenda.
She waved off her past remark that an economy with billionaires like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is “immoral.” She claimed to now be focused on cutting government subsidies and guaranteeing Amazon Warehouse workers a “living wage,” healthcare and free college for their kids.
Karl did not follow-up to ask whose money Ocasio-Cortez planned to use to pay for her desired massive expansion of government spending.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez versus Hillary Clinton
Ocasio-Cortez’s indirect criticism of Clinton was ostensibly about the failed candidate being too centrist. But she came dangerously close to a trope that many Clinton backers have decried as sexist: That Clinton lacked charisma or is simply unlikable.
Clinton herself has cited being a woman as one of the many excuses for her loss to Trump. And commentators have already started warning that the 2020 candidacy of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, could be derailed by the same nefarious misogyny.
But apparently, it’s not misogynistic when an avowed feminist like Ocasio-Cortez says it.
Conservatives, meanwhile, have generally maintained that their dislike of Clinton transcends her sex. The data has seemed to support them.
Political scientists Jennifer Lawless and Danny Hayes found in a book-length data dive published in 2016 that neither the media nor voters evince significant sexism toward female political candidates. Instead, they argued, it is the perception of sexism that discourages women from running for office.