House Enemies May Find Common Ground in Disdain for Kevin McCarthy

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her GOP House rivals seemed to speak almost civilly about Kevin McCarthy’s flailing bid for Speaker

Riveting onlookers and confounding C-SPAN pundits, two polar opposites in our warring House of Representatives—Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL)—not only came within spitting distance of each other Tuesday, but actually appeared to converse while the fate of Bakersfield, CA’s own hapless hopeful for House Speaker, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, hung in the balance.

The curious tête-à-tête came after one of McCarthy’s six (thus far) attempts to garner enough votes from the unruly caucus of election deniers and rage performance artists he built as House Minority Leader, prompting speculation about what the jarringly civil, non-shouted exchange between AOC and Gaetz might reveal about the new House’s ongoing cavalcade of Republican follies.

“What happened here, can anyone read lips?” MeidasTouch posted, with a video clip showing the two antipodal members chatting near the back of the chamber.

In the footage, the stolid Florida congressman, shot from behind, looms over the petite Bronx/Queens legislator, who responds to his question with firm but non-hostile gestures: pointing to the floor, pointing to herself, shaking her head no, turning to leave. No flipped bird, no talk-to-the-hand palm, plenty of questions raised.

“In chaos anything is possible,” Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC later that day, revealing that Gaetz had asked her to confirm a rumor that Democrats were going to cut a deal with McCarthy to help him squeak out a win.

“McCarthy was suggesting he could get Dems to walk away to lower his threshold,” she told the Intercept. “And I fact checked and said absolutely not.”

But what Ocasio-Cortez’s unheard conversation with Gaetz and her smiling chat with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) really demonstrated were two attributes missing from today’s MAGA-fied GOP congress: restraint and professionalism.

In 2021, Gosar posted a short in which an anime version of himself took a sword to behead a non-anime image of Ocasio-Cortez—later showing her the clip himself. Also that year, Matt Gaetz—then under investigation for sex trafficking, which the Department of Justice later declined to pursue—was reported to have shown photos of nude women to coworkers on the House floor, while he described having sex with them. This was a year after Ocasio-Cortez was accosted on the Capitol steps by another GOP congressman, Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida, who reportedly told AOC that she was “disgusting” and “out of [her] freaking mind” before offering the parting words “fucking bitch.”

At the time, Ocasio-Cortez laid such behavior at the feet of then-House Minority Leader McCarthy. “He’ll face no consequences,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted after Gosar’s hate post. “Bc [Kevin McCarthy] cheers him on with excuses.”

Today, as McCarthy reaps his own whirlwind, and the GOP’s clown car appears driverless, some unprecedented coalition may be required. If his bid for Speaker keeps failing, Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC, “McCarthy’s team may have to come to the Democratic party.”

Asked if her party would be open to such an overture, Ocasio-Cortez replied: “I think ‘open’ is a generous term.”

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