Representative Ted Yoho of Florida, an ineffective Tea Party howler scheduled for retirement in January, was on the express to oblivion. But this week he decided to verbally attack Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the steps of the Capitol, then called her a vulgar, sexist expletive in front of a reporter as he walked away. Now he’ll be remembered as the doormat on which a rising young star wiped her shoes.
Yoho’s “apology” for his crude outburst, delivered on the House floor this week, was as bad as the original insult — a preening self-justification that evaded responsibility at every turn. Yoho also made the mistake of thinking himself clever, smothering his quasi-denial in ambiguity. Then there was this: “I cannot apologize for my passion, or for loving my God, my family, and my country.”
AOC, as Ocasio-Cortez is known, is the new target of right-wing rage and already a popular subject of Republican television advertising. In this, she follows in the footsteps of Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. You might notice something about those names. The first is regarded as one of the most accomplished legislators of the 20th century. The second is a former senator and secretary of state and the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party. The third is the first woman to be elected speaker of the House. She’s also regarded by many as the most effective speaker in recent decades.