Daily Bread for 11.6.22: A Scene from Twitter’s Turmoil (with Ocasio-Cortez Teaching Something About Rhetoric)

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly sunny and breezy, with a high of 59. Sunrise is 6:36 AM and sunset 4:41 PM for 10h 03m 54s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 96.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1837, Burlington, Iowa selected as temporary capital:

On this date, Burlington, Iowa was chosen as a temporary capital of the Wisconsin Territory. A year earlier, legislators offered a bill making Madison the capital with a temporary capital in Dubuque until which time a permanent building could be constructed in Madison. Legislators also proposed the City of Belmont as a temporary capital. One month later, on December 12th, a fire destroyed the two-story temporary capital in Burlington. The new legislature moved its headquarters to the Webber and Remey’s store in Burlington where they conducted government affairs until June 1838.

Twitter’s a private company now, and it’s been a chaotic transition. For many small towns, like Whitewater, Twitter’s not directly influential, but it has an indirect influence as an occasional nationwide rumor mill. Crackpot ideas get test runs on Twitter, and find their way to other audiences. (In my own case, I like to follow interesting national publications & people on Twitter, and it works like an RSS feed for me. As long as Twitter has interesting national figures, I’ll likely stay on the platform.)  

Stores abound with details of Twitter’s shaky transition to Elon Musk’s ownership. Jonathan V. Last writes of Three Stories About the Death of Twitter (Elon’s Twitter-Tilt, What does Elon Musk think Twitter is?, and It’s the end of Twitter as we know it.

(Twitter may collapse, but it’s more likely to decline slowly into irrelevance, supplanted by other sites. See MySpace (remember them?). 

Amid this turmoil, there’s an encounter between Elon Musk and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez worth noting. 

In a series of exchanges between them, AOC complains about an increase in the cost of Twitter Blue (a premium service) and Musk replies to her complaint:

Musk flamed Ocasio-Cortez in a series of Friday tweets, reacting to a meme insinuating the lawmaker unintentionally caused Musk to take over Twitter and replying to a video of Ocasio-Cortez accusing Musk of restricting her Twitter account, “What can I say? It was a naked abuse of power.”

Musk, who officially took control at Twitter last Thursday and has vowed to rid the site of its “left wing bias,” and Ocasio-Cortez, are historically at odds, but their acrimony escalated in recent days in a series of viral exchanges.

“Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that ‘free speech’ is actually a $8/mo subscription plan,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Tuesday, tallying more than 700,000 likes referring to Musk’s idea to charge users a fee for a verification badge.

Musk replied, “Your feedback is appreciated, now pay $8,” picking up one million likes, and posted a screenshot of a $58 sweatshirt for sale on the politician’s website Wednesday, circling the price.

Ocasio-Cortez retorted by saying it supports her staff and calling Musk a “union buster with an ego problem who pockets the change from underpaying and mistreating people.”

It’s Ocasio-Cortez’s longer video reply that has my attention. While I (obviously) don’t support her politics, her nonchalant reply shows that, contrary to her critics, she’s clever and rhetorically gifted. Watch how she describes the exchange with Musk:

Impressive: she speaks into the camera as though she’s talking to a friend, while casually eating some chicken (!), and describes Musk and his remarks in a relaxed-but-dismissive way. That’s skillful, as most people responding to Musk would be nervous, irate, or awkward. She takes it all in stride. Of course she’s not always right, and she may not be right about technical problems with Twitter she describes in this recording, but her demeanor is rhetorically spot-on.

It’s common on the right to deride her as air-headed, etc., but she’s quite the opposite. Ocasio-Cortez is a match for her over-confident interlocutors. She acquits herself well here, and serious, thoughtful parents would rightly be proud of a daughter who manages herself this way. (We’ve sons in our family, but if someday we have a granddaughter this skilled our family will be enriched for it.) 

A reminder, if one were needed: it’s best to begin every encounter as a dark horse underdog, recognizing that, on any given day, one might be bested  without the right approach and preparation:

The dark-horse underdog by his or her nature approaches issues without entitlement, without over-confidence.  There is, each time, nothing other than the work of observing, assessing, and writing thereafter. 

One’s obligations begin anew, without credit for past work, each and every morning. 

There are few more avoidable mistakes than underestimating others.

How One Chef Is Fighting To Preserve A Cooking Tool As Old As Civilization Itself:







Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments