On Thursday, some conservatives surfaced an old video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing in college, and attempted to present it as a scandalous indictment of her character. The plan immediately backfired, of course, because there's nothing scandalous about playfully dancing around with friends. In fact, many found the video endearing, with some suggesting that it would make for a good campaign ad for the newly-minted Congresswoman.
The incident is only the latest example of the right's growing obsession with Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Previously, conservatives have attempted to create scandal out of her wearing a jacket, for going by the name "Sandy" when she was young, and for living in a house as a child. Unsurprisingly, none of those attacks have stuck, and some have suggested that they say more about conservatives' fear of Ocasio-Cortez than the young Democratic Socialist herself.
Although it's unclear precisely when the newly-surfaced video was filmed, a version of it was uploaded to YouTube in late 2010. It depicts Ocasio-Cortez and several other Boston University students recreating a dance scene from The Breakfast Club; at the time, this was a popular internet meme, and many other people made similar videos.
"Here is America’s favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is," a Twitter user with the handle @AnonymousQ1776 wrote while tweeting out the video. "High School [sic] video of 'Sandy' Ocasio-Cortez."
Ocasio-Cortez made history not only as the youngest woman elected to Congress, but also as one of the first Democratic Socialists, along with Rachida Tlaib, to be elected to the House of Representatives. The video of her dancing surfaced as she was being sworn in, and many conservatives presented it as somehow incriminating.
"She looks to me like she's having fun dancing at an elite school," American Spectator writer Melissa Mackenzie wrote. "She does not look like she's oppressed."
But many people, including some conservatives, felt that these attacks were counterproductive, and that the video made Ocasio-Cortez appear likable and relatable.
"I keep rewatching the @AOC dancing video and can’t find the problem. She’s... having fun? Has friends? Likes music?" Time correspondent Charlotte Alter wrote. "GOP is threatened by her because she represents every demographic they struggle with (young ppl, women, ppl of color) while making Dems look fun and cool."
"The video of @AOC dancing is so well done," Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson wrote. "And she’s all joy in it. I can’t believe they thought that was going to be some scandal."
Even some on the right thought the attack was misguided. Writing for the libertarian website Reason, Robby Soave argued that conservatives should "criticize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s socialist policies, not her extremely likable dance video."
"Conservatives who obsessively comment on Ocasio-Cortez's wardrobe and dance video are feeding into the narrative that the right is anti-women and doesn't treat them seriously," Soave wrote. "Bafflingly, they are also attacking her strengths. Being a young person with a sense of style is a good thing!"
Josh Bresnahan, the capital bureau chief for Politico, said that he'd seen the video earlier but decided not to publish it due to its lack of newsworthiness.
"Someone sent me this video a month ago," Bresnahan tweeted. "Of couse [sic] we didn’t post it. Has no news value whatsoever & provides no insight into @AOC. It’s college students .... dancing."