When a Monica Crowley op-ed with the headline “Newly Elected and Too Big for Her Britches” appeared in the Washington Times this week, it wasn’t hard to guess who the far-right journalist was referring to. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was sworn into Congress on January 3, has been the subject of countless attack pieces on right-wing websites. And sure enough, AOC is the one Crowley goes after in her op-ed, which expresses her disdain not only for the 29-year-old congresswoman, but the Millennial generation in general.
Ocasio-Cortez, as she sees it, is a prime example of what Crowley calls Tall Poppy Syndrome. Crowley explains, “Tall Poppy Syndrome occurs when someone gets cut down to size after becoming too big for her britches, too important too fast, too superior to those around her. The tall poppy must be pruned back, lest she think she can easily dominate her peers. She must be taught a lesson.”
And Crowley goes about trying to teach Ocasio-Cortez a lesson, employing an abundance of anti-Millennial imagery to make her point.
“With her relative youth, Taylor Swift red lipstick, deft use of social media and unapologetic embrace of socialism,” Crowley writes, Ocasio-Cortez “became an instant political celebrity. The mainstream media panted after her and her radical ideas — Medicare for all, a green ‘new deal,’ a 70% tax rate — her dripping sarcasm on Twitter and even her announcement of a ‘self-care’ break before being sworn in.”
Crowley goes on to describe Ocasio-Cortez as “the stereotypical Millennial who, at her first job interview, asks for the corner office and eight weeks’ vacation,” quoting various Democrats who have mildly criticized her on occasion — including former Sen. Claire McCaskill, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri and “The View” host Whoopi Goldberg.
“As the Democratic establishment took note of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s haughty dismissal of those she considers too old or not progressive enough to lead the leftist revolution,” Crowley asserts, “it also began to remind her who’s boss.”
But most of the Democrats Crowley quotes have said more favorable than unfavorable things about Ocasio-Cortez. While Goldberg, for example, recommended that Ocasio-Cortez “sit still for a minute and learn the job,” she also acknowledged that the native New Yorker has “lots of good ideas.”
In other words, Goldberg was offering constructive criticism and saying that AOC could learn some things from older liberals in Congress—not telling her to go stand in the corner and keep quiet. And Ocasio-Cortez showed her ability to work with the Democratic establishment when she voted for Nancy Pelosi to become House speaker again.
One older liberal Crowley doesn’t quote in her op-ed is veteran economist and New York Times economist Paul Krugman. On Twitter, the 65-year-old Krugman addressed GOP disdain for Ocasio-Cortez when he posted that Republicans’ “insecurity in the face of a bright, charismatic woman of color is spectacular. I particularly like the constant claims that she’s stupid when, let’s face it, the average GOP House member knows as much about policy as the average house pet.”
Crowley ends her op-ed on an especially overwrought note, characterizing Ocasio-Cortez as a “monster” the Democratic Party will be unable to control.
“The Democratic establishment, which long winked at socialism and encouraged youth activism, now realizes that it’s created a monster it won’t be able to control for much longer,” Crowley insists. “As Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is demonstrating, the Tall Poppy can be pruned back, but it eventually grows back taller than before.”