Are there any valid criticisms of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
Answered by: Jarred Dunn,studied History at The University of Texas at Austin
回答者：Jarred Dunn，曾在德克萨斯大学奥斯汀分校(University Of Texas At Austin)学习历史
On January 6, 2019, the long-running news program 60 Minutes aired an in-depth interview with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Photo: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., attends a House Oversight Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. July 26, 2019. Ocasio-Cortez: Biden needs a ‘real’ health care plan
Ocasio-Cortez had just been sworn in as a new member of Congress. She had already gained considerable attention due to her outspoken criticism of President Trump, and her support of the Green New Deal, universal health care, and tuition-free college.
She had also amassed a verifiable record of false statements.
During the 60 Minutes interview, Anderson Cooper asked the rookie congresswoman about a recent fact-check in The Washington Post. In an eye-popping claim, Ocasio-Cortez said that the Pentagon’s $21 trillion in accounting errors would already pay for two-thirds of the proposed “Medicare for All” plan.
According to the Post (and multiple other mainstream fact-checkers), this claim was not true.
The problem with what Ocasio-Cortez said: The $21 trillion figure refers to a cumulative amount of individual transactions — including some double- and triple-counting — not a single pot of money that was misspent.
One tip-off is the amount of Ocasio-Cortez’s "accounting errors" is far bigger than the actual Pentagon spending from 1998 to 2015, which was $8.5 trillion. In fact, it’s also far bigger than the amount the government has spent on national security since 1940 and, in all likelihood, in the nation’s history.
Of course it is not unprecedented for a politician to make false claims in pursuit of policy goals. In the interview with Cooper, however, she made a revealing statement.
From the interview transcript, in bold:
She's been accused of being dishonest about the true cost of her proposals and the tax burden they would impose on the middle class. She's also been criticized for making factual mistakes.
Anderson Cooper: One of the criticisms of you is that— that your math is fuzzy. The Washington Post recently awarded you four Pinocchios—
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Oh my goodness—
Anderson Cooper: —for misstating some statistics about Pentagon spending?
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: If people want to really blow up one figure here or one word there, I would argue that they're missing the forest for the trees.
I think that there's a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.
Anderson Cooper: But being factually correct is important—
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: It's absolutely important. And whenever I make a mistake. I say, "Okay, this was clumsy." and then I restate what my point was. But it's— it's not the same thing as— as the president lying about immigrants. It's not the same thing, at all.
In the age of Trump and his more than 20,000 lies since his inauguration, it has become exceedingly difficult to hold politicians accountable. It feels strange to attack someone like Ocasio-Cortez for making false claims, in light of an orange-hued figure that drowned us all in a torrent of falsehoods.
My criticism of the congresswoman centers on her deeply-held certainty. According to Ocasio-Cortez’s worldview, being “morally right” is far superior to being “precisely, factually, and semantically correct.”
This is a seductive argument, one used by populists and leaders across the globe. It is also the same reasoning employed by Trump and his sycophants.
If your cause is just, then the “clumsy” use of facts and figures is not something to be vilified.
Indeed, it might be something to be celebrated.
I see no reason why I should not demand both factually correct and morally right answers from our politicians, regardless of which political party currently holds their allegiance.