They don’t put their best face forward. After a disappointing 2022 split, Republicans have learned zero lessons as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is poised to become the face of the GOP in the new year — if she isn’t already.
The die was cast last month when Greene broke with the right and supported Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House, saying that antagonizing him is a “bad strategy.” You don’t have to be a Rasputin to see Greene trying to play kingmaker. If McCarthy becomes the speaker (which seems more likely than not), she’ll be the one pulling the strings.
Meanwhile, Greene continues to provide an endless stream of controversy and demagogy that is guaranteed to generate buzz and boost her stature. The most recent example came at the New York Young Republican gala on Saturday night, then she said: “If Steve Bannon and I had organized it [the Jan. 6 riot], we would have won. Not to mention, it would have been armed. (Should the insurgents have been armed? )
It would be wrong to write off MTG’s violent rhetoric as an anomaly. In many ways, she has earned her status as the Queen Bee of a Republican Party that reflects her values. Look no further than the aforementioned Young Republican event Greene addressed this weekend for proof.
According to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the event also included a speech by the group’s president, Gavin Wax, who stated, “We want to cross the Rubicon. We want all-out war. We must be ready to compete in any arena. In the media. In the courtroom. At the ballot box. And on the street.”
In the streets?
Call me crazy, but it sounds like he’s calling for real war. The rhetoric isn’t cute or harmless: it’s all very literal — especially in the context of Greene’s comments about January 6 and armed insurgents.
What do people think the endgame will be? Based on past performance, we should not dismiss this as mere exaggeration.
The SPLC’s report also highlighted some interesting event participants such as Peter Brimelow, Jack Posobiec and Josh Hammer.
In case you’re not familiar, Brimelow runs the white nationalist site VDARE. Posobiec is best known for pushing the #Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Hammer is the opinion editor of news week, once considered a leading news magazine and a proponent of “national conservatism” (which raises the question of whether it is going too far for me to connect the dots between national conservatism and white nationalism).
It’s hard to imagine that the opinion editor of news week, in roughly 2015, toying with such extremists (according to the report, Hammer “shared jokes” with Posobiec and said he wanted to say “hello” to Brimelow). To be sure, spending time with all manner of inappropriate people is a job requirement (if not a fringe benefit) for any curious opinion journalist. But in this situation, the boundary between observer and employee seems to have been crossed.
As I write this, I wonder if I’m provoking yawns from readers who have burned out their outrage receptors since 2016 and perhaps think none of this is a big deal.
Let’s face the facts: we have lost the ability to be shocked.
Talking about fighting in the street was once off limits. Once upon a time, a regular Republican event prominently welcomed white nationalists who mingled with members of Congress and journalists. This would have been met with disbelief and indignation.
Today it is all normalized. The important thing to realize is that by definition this was not a fringe right-wing conclave, but a regular Republican gala that took place in Manhattan— not the Michigan militia trading posts on 4chan. These were also the Young Republicans, once the anodyne house of Alex P. Keaton-esque conservatives (I know because I used to be a Jr.).
Along with Greene and the aforementioned names, former White House adviser Steve Bannon was at the gala. “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani was at the gala. Son of the former POTUS, Donald Trump, Jr., was at the gala. We’re not talking about the edge anymore. We are talking about prominent names in the world of politics and journalism.
Besides being dangerous, this also seems politically stupid.
A month after “candidate quality” issues doomed the Republican “red wave” as candidates like Blake Masters, Kari Lake and Herschel Walker all underperformed, Republicans seem destined to repeat history, while Democrats are determined to help them do so, in part by arranging for Greene to be the new face of the GOP.
By embracing Marjorie Taylor Greene and the cavalcade of lunatics, lunatics, racists and right-wing extremists she associates with, Republicans are preparing for another face-plant.