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AOC Warned Ted Yoho Before Annihilating Him on the House Floor

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez smiles.

Vanity Fair‘s December cover story is a profile on New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and while it feels very intimate, it also covers a lot of ground, including her no-holds-barred thoughts on quite a few Republican politicians. She expresses her anger at “these motherfuckers [who] are only paying $750 a year in taxes” which keeps the rest of us from having things like tuition-free public colleges. She calls Mitch McConnell out for being the bootlicker he is to Trump, the “racist visionary.” (“He doesn’t do anything without Trump’s blessing. Trump says, ‘Jump.’ McConnell says, ‘How high?’ Trump never does what McConnell says.”)

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She also shares some behind-the-scenes details from the lead-up to the speech she gave from the House floor earlier this year in which she deservedly demolished Republican Rep. Ted Yoho.

If you remember, Yoho was overheard by a reporter calling AOC “crazy,” “disgusting,” and a “fucking bitch” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. It was Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on the connections between poverty and crime that angered Yoho to the point of feeling the need to lob misogynistic insults at his colleague in public, in the presence of journalists.

“She froze,” writes Michelle Ruiz. “The situation felt dangerous, with Yoho towering over Ocasio-Cortez, who calls herself “five-five on a good day. […] She told Yoho he was being rude and went into the Capitol to vote.”

The next day, Yoho took to the House floor to give a non-apology in which he trotted out the old “father of daughters, husband of a wife” defense and stated, “I cannot apologize for my passion.”

The day after that, AOC gave her own speech in which she straight-up annihilated Yoho. I have to admit I’d never taken notice of him before this exchange and I haven’t heard anything about him since, so I’m going to just assume that this speech caused him to either resign or crumble into dust or both.

The whole speech is fantastic but here’s an especially key bit:

What I do have issue with is using women, our wives and daughters, as shields and excuses for poor behavior. Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this House towards me on television and I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.”

She added, “What Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters. In using that language in front of the press, he gave permission to use that language against his wife, his daughters, women in his community. And I am here to stand up to say that is not acceptable.

What wasn’t reported on in this exchange until this new profile is that after reacting with near-silent shock—an initial involuntary reaction that many women who have been accosted by men have experienced—Ocasio-Cortez gave Yoho a warning.

From Vanity Fair:

This part hasn’t been reported: The next day Ocasio-Cortez approached Yoho and told him, “You do that to me again, I won’t be so nice next time.” She felt his actions had violated a boundary, stepping “into the zone of harassment, discrimination.” His mocking response, straight out of Veep: “Oh, boo-hoo.” Publicly, Yoho doubled down, issuing a non-apology on the House floor, citing his wife and daughters as character witnesses.

Ocasio-Cortez flashed back to one of her first jobs out of school, when a male colleague whom she’d edged out for a promotion called her a bitch in front of the staff. She had been too stunned to reply, and no one came to her defense. She wouldn’t let it happen again.

Forty-eight hours later, Ocasio-Cortez delivered one of the most eloquent dunks in political history, a “thank u, next” for the C-SPAN set, taking on not just Yoho but the patriarchy itself. She took care to enter “fucking bitch” into the Congressional Record. “I want to thank him for showing the world that you can be a powerful man and accost women,” she told the House. “It happens every day in this country.” And the line that spawned headlines, T-shirts, hashtags, and memes: “I am someone’s daughter too.”

What Yoho did on the Capitol steps was inexcusable. But Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave him a warning and he threw it back in her face, which is just, honestly, irresponsible. Imagine the hubris and the poor basic judgment required to hear this woman tell you to back off and to not listen. I cannot.

(via Vanity Fair, image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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