Marjorie Taylor Greene is a dangerous fool in need of adult supervision, but there’s nothing surprising about her rise in American politics. A significant portion of the electorate is no less hollow and hateful in their thinking; they’re the people who helped propel a racist celebrity con man and conspiracy theorist to the presidency. The folks who have an entire media ecosystem catering to their ignorance, no matter how much it drifts towards lunacy. The group that still largely supports Donald Trump.
Select conservatives may not want to be lumped in with a group of foolish conspiratorial bigots when it’s not good PR, but as this ongoing plague has taught us, life is short — so why waste time playing dumb about how someone like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene came to be?
After the controversies last week surrounding the Georgia representative’s past views — space lasers controlled by Jewish bankers caused California wildfires, school shootings were hoaxes, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should be executed for treason — Meghan McCain blamed the mainstream media for giving Greene so much attention. “I would argue this is how we got Trump in the first place,” McCain said on Monday’s episode of The View, insisting that scrutiny of Greene only pushes Republicans to double down on extremism.
There is nothing impressive about a condemnation that does not call out the intended party by name. It’s even less noteworthy when the statement is released out of political expediency rather than semblance of genuine conviction.
No, it doesn’t matter what nepotism’s millennial representative thinks per se. The problem is, she’s not the only one thinking it. There may be reasons to fault the mainstream media for the political rise of Donald Trump, but radicalizing Republicans is an in-house effort: Lee Atwater, Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, and Rush Limbaugh all come to mind. (You can add the names of various tech execs to the grievance list for their complicity in the face of disinformation, too.)
As for “traditional Republicans,” perhaps nothing paved Trump’s road to the White House more than Meghan McCain’s father selecting Sarah Palin as his vice president nominee in 2008. Meghan may never acknowledge any of that, but if Republicans can’t be completely honest about how Trump happened, there’s not much they can contribute to discourse about how to handle threats posed by Marjorie Taylor Greene.
I felt similarly about another “traditional” Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, condemning Greene without directly naming her in a statement on Monday.
In his old-man version of a subtweet, McConnell said that the embrace of “loony lies and conspiracy theories” work as a “cancer for the Republican Party.” “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane,” he added, “is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”
Three sentences, no names. This is Moscow Mitch’s way of talking big shit.
As The Hill noted, “his rare, scathing remarks about a freshman GOP lawmaker from the other chamber suggests he recognizes the potential damage her violent rhetoric and bizarre conspiracy theories could inflict on congressional Republicans as they try to take back both the House and Senate in next year’s midterms.”
Uh-huh. You mean like the birther conspiracy about former President Obama?
McConnell did once have some bad things to say about Donald Trump bragging about serial sexual assault. He got over that, though, once Trump was declared the victor in 2016. And when Trump trumpeted his big lie about election fraud in 2020, McConnell dragged his feet until it was beyond clear that nothing would help him remain majority leader.
There is nothing impressive about a condemnation that does not call out the intended party by name. It’s even less noteworthy when the statement is released out of political expediency rather than semblance of genuine conviction. Not that Greene appears to care either way: “Too bad a few Republican Senators are obsessing over me,” she tweeted, “instead of preparing to defend President Trump from the rabid radical left. Focus on ending the witch hunt. Do your job!”
Now, many have covered this back-and-forth, as well as remarks from other high-profile Republicans, as some kind of sign of a civil war within the GOP. That’s good content for ratings and clicks, but there is not that much White-on-White crime happening. Despite Mitch McConnell’s feelings, the far-right media machine is standing by the QAnon lady because she’s more reflective of the base than GOP leadership is.
Fox News has barely covered McConnell’s rebuke of Greene. Its biggest anchor, Tucker Carlson, has been going out of his way to defend Greene and fault any criticism of her views as media bias. The network has also given other GOP members of Congress space to defend Greene — with one comparing her to Maxine Waters, who has never suggested that anyone in Congress be executed. (Fox News might be getting crazier in their attempts to claw out of a ratings rut, but at least they’re consistent with their racism.)
As of now, Democrats are the only ones bothering to try and hold Greene accountable. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer delivered an ultimatum to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at the beginning of the week: strip Greene of her committee assignments within 72 hours or Democrats would bring the issue to the House floor on Wednesday. Some have accused the Democrats of setting a bad precedent, but I happen to agree with the idea that someone who harasses teenagers and mocks mass school shootings shouldn’t serve on any House committee, let alone one for education.
Greene is already on Twitter raising funds off of the Democrats’ plans to expel her. That doesn’t sound like a person worried about their standing. If anything, she’s using this to boost her profile. I’m guessing that’s why she announced that she’ll soon be meeting Trump in Florida.
“I’m excited to go visit him soon and continue to give him a call and talk to him frequently,” Greene told Politico. “Great news is, he supports me 100%, and I’ve always supported him. President Trump is always here for the people, and he’s not going anywhere.”
Some worry about people like Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, or any of the other lanky racist White men in the Senate becoming the heir to the Trump legacy, but the fear of a “smarter Trump” waiting in the wings ignores the reality about elected Republican officials. Most of them are smarter versions of Donald Trump, and Republican voters chose Trump anyway. At the rate we’re going now, Greene is well on her way to making the GOP presidential ticket in 2024. Going from one violent conspiracy theorist to another isn’t that much of a stretch for these people.
Whether or not she tops it depends on what happens with Trump and whatever criminal and civil cases come along, but I do know this: No matter what is being said of Marjorie Taylor Greene now by the Republican establishment, they will get over their embarrassment the second she proves politically useful.