On Wednesday afternoon, Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene sought to confront Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez outside the House — shouting that New York Democrat didn’t “care about the American people” and asking “why do you support terrorists and antifa?”
On Friday morning, CNN’s KFile reported that this wasn’t the first time that Greene had targeted Ocasio-Cortez. In February 2019, before she won her congressional seat, Greene went to AOC’s congressional office and taunted the congresswoman and her staff through the mail slot in the door. Greene told Ocasio-Cortez to “get rid of your diaper,” and called Ocasio-Cortez’s office a “day care.”
Asked about the videos on Friday morning, Ocasio-Cortez said this of Greene:
“This is a woman that’s deeply unwell. And clearly needs help. And her kind of fixation has lasted for several years now. At this point I think the depth has raised concerns for other members, as well. And so, you know, I think that this is an assessment that needs to be made by the proper professional.”
Which is quite a statement for one member of Congress to make about another — even two as ideologically opposed as MTG and AOC.
(Sidebar: In a different political era, perhaps one before we knew the words “President Donald Trump,” this kind of comment might occasion a bipartisan blowback. But Trump spent much of his four years in office saying Democrats he didn’t like were “nuts” and using denigrating language to talk about mental health — creating a whole new category of verbal attack, which AOC’s comment doesn’t remotely rise to.)
But in this partisan moment — on the same day this all happened, California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell cursed at an aide for Greene, who told him to take off his mask — AOC’s suggestion didn’t spark outrage so much as it seemed to open a sort of Pandora’s box about Greene.
“I’ve heard it from members on both sides of the aisle,” tweeted Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman in response to Ocasio-Cortez’s statement.
Which, again, wow.
Now, it’s important to note here that there is a very large difference between off-handedly saying someone is “nuts” — a sort of sweeping generalization designed to dismiss — and alleging an actual mental illness (something that, of course, no one person without proper medical training and knowledge of the situation could possibly accurately identify in another). And it’s also worth mentioning that mental illness is a very serious thing, and not something anyone should make light of. But Ocasio-Cortez is pointing out a pattern of behavior by Greene that is problematic, regardless of the root cause.
That said, clearly Greene is doing her damndest to confront AOC — both as a member of Congress and before she won an open Georgia seat in 2020.
The question is where do we go from here? Ocasio-Cortez’s office has already asked for security measures to be ramped up in the wake of Wednesday’s incident with Greene. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the episode was “probably … a matter for the Ethics Committee.”
Given that House Republicans took a pass on joining with Democrats when they stripped Greene of her committee assignments earlier this year for xenophobic, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic comments she had made, it doesn’t seem likely they will go along with Democrats’ demands here.
But how will they react to what AOC said about Greene? Will they condemn the New York Democrat? Or is Sherman right that AOC simply gave voice to something lots of members think when it comes to the Georgia Republican?