By ROBERT AVILA
Special to the PRESS
If I had a nickel for every time a conservative political pundit (someone who identifies as an authority on conservative values for media) attempted to put-down and shame freshman congressional Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for her former job as a bartender, I could buy everyone reading this column — on either side of the Queen Isabella causeway — their first and second round of drinks at a neighborhood bar.
Heck, if every time a conservative pundit suggested her background as a bartender made her unfit to serve on the house of representatives, I could pay the babysitter to watch the kids while you come out, buy appetizers for your friends, family and every table, and pay off every tab the bar was ever owed. I could tip the bartender well, knowing just how much work goes into the profession, as a former bartender myself.
If this all-expenses-paid night out sounds appealing to you, then you understand that — if you just stop to think about it — it makes no sense that conservative pundits like Tomi Lahren and Tucker Carlson constantly suggest you look down on someone for the very profession you would enjoy being served by. It is objectively absurd and weird to put someone down for their working-class profession; but in a chorus of constant rumors, memes, and fake quotes used to discredit and make the congresswoman look stupid, profession shaming is small change. When you listen to sensational put downs so often, they become familiar and mundane — “dumb bartender” just blurs into the ingrained emotional response to associate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with being stupid and wrong. You don’t stop to think when repetition has been so ingrained. You just accept something as true without a second though.
Why does this matter? Because when we grow numb from the petty, spiteful, and absurd political commentary that persists on places like cable news, our adaptation to tune out the sensational, becomes our weakness in discern what’s important news.
It should come as no surprise that when the extraordinary deposition of Bill Taylor — the well respected top American diplomat in Ukraine who has served since 1985 for every administration of both parties — was released earlier this week, it looked just like any other sensational story we’ve grown accustomed to. The damning detail describing Trump’s abuse of his presidential position to leverage a quid pro quo, to have a foreign country investigate a domestic political rival are mundane to us because everything — even the previous bartending profession of a congresswoman — is mind-tuned out sensational.
Do we even care that the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who the deposition described in further detail leading the Ukraine talks, tweeted after the depositions release that “…the investigation I conducted…was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client…”, essentially admitting that the quid pro quo was done on behalf of Trump personally, not as an act for the United States to investigate corruption, as many conservative pundits and Republicans have used as a defense to the president?
We should care that the president’s personal lawyer admitted to the exact impeachable offense he is accused of leading. We should care that well respected, credible witnesses, describe in detail the same offense. But in the exhaustion of the sensational, the never ending wall of absurd, spiteful, defensive and weird social media and cable news, highly credible accusations just blur into the familiar and the mundane. Life-long public servants, people who take an oath to devote their lives to this country and constitution, not to a political party, just blur into the ingrained emotional response that these are “dumb bartenders” to be disbelieved.
As the first public hearings into impeachment begin next week keep this in mind. Conservative political pundits like Tucker Carlson, Tomi Lahren, Jeanine Pirro, don’t take oaths to uphold the constitution in their roles in the media. If Fox News chooses to run a segment about Ocasio-Cortez, rather than discuss the implications of the impeachment hearings, every day for the next six weeks, none of us should blink an eye. As Fox News host Stuart Varney acknowledged, she’s good for ratings. If Facebook ads appear more often depicting the same content, pay no attention. Their business is ratings and viewers — and when you are a profitable vehicle for targeted political ads or the number one cable news network in the country, you don’t change a winning formula.
To state the obvious, however, the president, senators, and representatives take an oath to the constitution they cannot take lightly. When a person’s duty is to their country first, and not to personal profit or a political party, they should not have the luxury of using the same absurd and weird practices of current day conservative political pundits, the winning cable-news formula — they shouldn’t have that luxury when it comes to impeachment.