NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is the new speaker of the House, but the name of the San Francisco liberal was rarely uttered at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering held south of Washington, D.C. Demonized for much of the 2018 political season in Republican ads and presidential tweets, she had been, it seemed, entirely forgotten.
Former archrival Hillary Clinton came in for a couple of predictable jabs, as when Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, the conservative activist group, promised “more accountability” from the former secretary of state. But such calls weren’t followed up by the “lock-her-up” chants of yore.
Instead, by far the greatest animosity — and anxiety — was reserved for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., the 29-year-old House newcomer who has single-handedly pushed the agenda of the Democratic Party to the left. As much as Republicans oppose her agenda — the “Green New Deal,” a 70 percent tax rate on the wealthy — they thrill at the prospect of using her to broadly paint the Democrats challenging President Trump in 2020 as like-minded socialists.
“The moment America becomes a socialist country is the moment America ceases to be America,” Vice President Mike Pence said on the convention’s second day.
Pence did not mention Ocasio-Cortez by name, but he didn’t have to: She was everywhere at CPAC, so much so that the entirety of the five-day affair could have been dedicated to her. The event officially opened on Thursday with a panel title “Marketing Marxism: There’s Nothing New About the Green New Deal.” But there was little serious debate of the proposal, which was recently introduced by Ocasio-Cortez, and which would transition the nation to a carbon-free economy under government control.
“They’re trying to get rid of all the cows,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., referencing a comment by Ocasio-Cortez about bovine flatulence, which does in fact contribute to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, thus exacerbating the warming of the planet. The cow comment proved popular at CPAC.
Speaking shortly thereafter, former White House official Sebastian Gorka warned that progressives are seeking to “take away your hamburgers,” and that this represented Stalinism in its purest form.
“You just try to have AOC show up at my house and try to take my cows away,” said Jerry Falwell Jr., using the acronym by which Ocasio-Cortez is almost universally known. This came right after Falwell said that his sons had grown up with guns in their hands.
“I think it’s good, though, that that’s the direction the Democrats are going,” Falwell added. “That’s gonna make it pretty easy in 2020,” he added.
Indeed, the goal of many attendees and speakers was to paint Ocasio-Cortez as dangerously uninformed. “You have a 29-year-old socialist and the only thing she’s done on policy issues in her life is bartending, yet she’s driving an entire national agenda,” said one conservative activist, according to a McClatchy report. Ocasio-Cortez tended bar in New York before turning to politics.
The number of allusions to Ocasio-Cortez at CPAC suggests that conservatives believe that she has become the right’s new bugbear. Her office did not respond to multiple Yahoo News requests for comment. But on Thursday afternoon, she tweeted in response to a report that an image of her dancing outside her Washington office — ominously edited — appeared during a video montage by the National Rifle Association.
“The GOP *is* scared of dancing women, because they fear the liberation of all identities taught to feel shame,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in response.
For all that, Ocasio-Cortez will not be old enough to run president for six years, as she is only 29 years old. The prospect clearly thrills some, just as it terrifies others. The sites aoc2028.com and aocforpresident.com have both been registered, though it is unclear to whom. Both sites are blank, with a placeholder from the domain hosting company.
“Coming soon,” it says.
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