If You Ask Me, Rep. Jasmine Crockett Wasn’t Rude Enough

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Rep. Jasmine Crockett Wasn’t Rude EnoughWin McNamee - Getty Images

There’s “when they go low, we go high” and then there’s a time for Democratic and centrist establishmentarians to pull the sticks from their proverbial asses. If “they” always go low and “we” always go high, then “we” are going to end up with busted ankles. Last week, a House Oversight Committee hearing “went low,” so to speak.

First, Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene insulted Texas Democrat Jasmine Crockett’s false eyelashes. Then Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York demanded Greene apologize. Greene snapped back like a Karen in a bar fight outside a Tampa Bay Applebee’s, mockingly asking if AOC’s feelings were hurt. After some (boring) procedural harumphing that resulted in a non-punishment for Greene, Crockett herself pointed out that Marjorie Taylor Greene has a bad dye job and is built like a linebacker. Monocles popped out. Bow ties spun around. Representatives were aghast! It was great TV.

In the days since, Crockett’s closing “beach-blonde, bad-built butch body” insult has taken social media by storm. Clips from the hearing have been shared and viewed millions of times and remixed over Kendrick Lamar’s blockbuster Drake diss track “Not Like Us”—where it fits perfectly. Crockett has refused to apologize and announced a line of “Crockett Clapback” merchandise.

Marjorie Taylor Greene has released a video defending her physique, in the style of a Dove ad produced by Stormfront.

The incident was practically begging the civility police to release an APB, and sure enough, the usual suspects clutched their pearls and messed their khakis while bemoaning the death of civility in American politics. Crockett appeared on Jake Tapper’s show on CNN, where the host finger-wagged the incident in a manner most CNN. Some on the Left were offended by Crockett’s use of “butch” as a descriptor inside an insult. But insults work because the crafter of said insult believes that the recipient of the insult would be hurt by it. It was effective when Crockett described Greene as “butch” because Greene’s own party enforces a narrow, restrictive vision of how an acceptable woman’s body should look. “Butch” also starts with a B, like the other words in the insult, and as anybody well-schooled in the art of insults knows, alliteration makes it better. (Greene, meanwhile, resumed being professionally awful.)

The response from the “when they go low, we go high” crowd is predictable and familiar. The plot is always the same: the long buildup of bad behavior, then the quick and brutal verbal retaliation that becomes the story rather than the bad behavior that led to it. Impoliteness bears a bigger penalty than, say, calling for violence against one’s colleagues, spreading anti-Semitic and Islamophobic rhetoric, attending the State of the Union dressed like Hulk Hogan, accusing a colleague of having an extramarital affair during a Homeland Security Committee meeting, or following and harassing a school-shooting survivor. If anything, Crockett’s calm string of B-words didn’t go far enough.

Greene is no policy whiz and has no legislative accomplishments, she’s not particularly interesting, and her life before Congress did not produce any noteworthy achievements. Her popularity is due almost entirely to the fact that she says the things she’s not supposed to say to and about people who get upset by those things. For that matter, former president Donald Trump’s entire persona is based on his acting like a pig for applause. Voters on the Right aren’t put off by the rudeness of MAGAverse acolytes; they like them because of it. Why should Democrats have to sit there and take it again and again? Why should they be denied the pleasure of hearing someone finally stick it to a person who deserves it?

And yet, over and over, Democratic and centrist establishmentarians have decided that it’s the job of Democrats like Crockett to sit there and take insults like substitute teachers at an alternative school. Why is the Left writ large doomed to be dour or be declared the problem?

The worst thing that could happen to Democrats this fall is for their voters to stay home. They have reason to worry that this could happen. Enthusiasm for both major-party presidential candidates is low. Primary turnout was meager. Poll after poll shows voters feeling unenthusiastic about both parties–especially voters Democrats need in order to win, like young voters and Black voters. People are not keeping up with political news. They’re tired of moral pablum, widespread self-enrichment, and a media class that is largely insulated from the consequences of government action or inaction treating policy decisions like a game.

Democrats have the opportunity to show voters that they, like Rep. Crockett, have a spine. That they’re a party for people who will work in good faith until they’re pushed to a point of retaliation by increasingly brazen cruelty displayed by those on the other side of the aisle. The adults in the room needn’t be hapless meme fodder for the Truth Social accounts of Trump’s toadies. Now is not the time for Democrats to privately register their disgust. Progressive voters–and I include myself in this–need to see more fight from the ones we’ve elected to represent us. We need more people like Rep. Crockett–elected officials willing to reach across the aisle and deliver a verbal backhand if necessary. Maybe that’s how we can get voters who have tuned out to sit up and pay attention again.

Marjorie Taylor Greene got what she had coming. And, frankly, she started it. Rep. Crockett is right to refuse to apologize. Abrasiveness works for her, and it would probably work for other Democrats and progressives who are tired of being pushed around and insulted by their Right-wing colleagues. There’s no law against being mean. Let the people whose morals demand they “go high” in the face of provocation continue to go high–but if Rep. Crockett has “beach-blonde, bad-built butch body” in her back pocket, who are we to dull her shine?

Marjorie Taylor Greene at Her Best:

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