Ann Coulter is secretly obsessed with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Steve Bannon is daydreaming about ways to team up with her. And Republican representative Matt Gaetz, a second-term congressman from Florida, openly admits his desire to emulate the freshman congresswoman from New York.
All three conservatives are part of AOC’s ever-growing right-wing fan club, which Politico shined a light on Wednesday. The 29-year-old has ideas they revile, but conservatives see in her someone loved by the media, someone who can “rally the left to populist causes,” and someone who reminds them of Donald Trump.
It’s a facile comparison. Yes, both Ocasio-Cortez and Trump can effortlessly command attention and both rile up their political opponents if they so much as sneeze. But while Trump’s appeal is based on the (false) notion that he’s a brilliant businessman and his ability to speak to, and for, a narrow group of aggrieved Americans, Ocasio-Cortez’s brand is authenticity and inclusivity. Trump doesn’t know how grocery stores work. Ocasio-Cortez cooks mac and cheese on Instagram.
One undeniable similarity though is that Steve Bannon likes them both. Of Ocasio-Cortez, Trump’s former senior adviser told Politico: “AOC has what I call ‘gameness’ or competitive heart — the combination of grit, determination, fighting spirit that you can’t coach. You either have it or you don’t, and she has it big league.” He also fantasized about getting her to work with the populist right on issues surrounding tech firms and China.
Coulter’s respect for Ocasio-Cortez is tied to fear:
Meanwhile, Ann Coulter, another early Trump believer, has become privately preoccupied with Ocasio-Cortez’s ability to command mass attention, according to a person close to the conservative commentator.
“Terrified is a good word,” said the person. “She’s terrified of her.” The person recounted a recent conversation with Coulter in which, “She was ranting about, ‘AOC’s going to be the next president even if she’s not old enough to run.’” Coulter did not respond to emails requesting comment.
Other Trump supporters who have given public plaudits to Ocasio-Cortez include Mike Cernovich and “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams.
Gaetz, best known for starting wild conspiracy theories and serving as Trump’s eager errand boy, sees someone who’s doing the job of a millennial member of Congress better than he is. “I aspire to be the conservative AOC,” he said. Of course, that’s not possible. Ocasio-Cortez is not just about good tweets, she’s about good ideas. And you shouldn’t expect to see any of those coming out of the right-wing fever swamp any time soon.