Freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a swipe at her Republican opponents on Sunday, comparing them to Dwight Schrute, the overbearing paper salesman of The Office TV show, Huffpost reports. The remark came on the tail end of an ongoing exchange on Twitter where Ocasio-Cortez had hyperbolically explained what she and her colleagues mean when they talk about taxing the very wealthy to fund programs for Americans.
“When we say ‘tax the rich,’ we mean nesting-doll yacht rich,” she tweeted. “For-profit prison rich. Betsy DeVos, student-loan-shark rich. Trick-the-country-into-war rich. Subsidizing-workforce-w-food-stamps rich. Because THAT kind of rich is simply not good for society, & it’s like 10 people.”
Many detractors seized on her characterization as this ultra-wealthy group comprising just 10 people, treating it as a literal statement of fact.
Philadelphia-based attorney Max Kennerly chimed in to hit back at those commentators on behalf of Ocasio-Cortez, indicating that although her statement was not literal, the top ten wealthiest in the country really do hold between them hundred of billions of dollars in personal wealth. The 14 richest American families, Kennerly went on to calculate, turn out to be worth more than about 60 percent of Americans combined.
In response to Kennerly’s supportive banter, Ocasio-Cortez poked further fun at some of her most vocal opponents.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is tired of the GOP "fact checking" her every statement. https://t.co/FQYCVu0ZX4
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) May 12, 2019
“This is a technique of the GOP, to take dry humor + sarcasm literally and ‘fact check’ it. Like the ‘world ending in 12 years’ thing, you’d have to have the social intelligence of a sea sponge to think it’s literal. But the GOP is basically Dwight from The Office so who knows,” she tweeted, evoking the Dwight Schrute character by name.
Ocasio-Cortez’s reference to the world ending in 12 years had to do with similarly criticized statements made in connection with her launch of the Green New Deal, where opponents once again seized on a hyperbolic statement and treated it as if intended literally. The congresswoman argues that both statements, that her tax philosophy would focus on 10 wealthy individuals and that the world could face doom in just over a decade, were each light-hearted statements that were deliberately twisted out of context and out of proportion by disingenuous detractors.
Statements about the Green New Deal have indeed included references to the year 2030, but as a benchmark by which the United Nations has predicted that climate change will become a substantial and difficult-to-reverse danger, not the actual end of the world.
Actor Rainn Wilson, who played Dwight on the television show, has, in the past, referred to the character as a “fascist nerd” and “someone who does not hate the system, but has a deep and abiding love for it.”