Republicans never really liked that crude vulgar man who knew nothing and sneered at them, and at everything, but eventually they all thought this would work. They should be able to contain Donald Trump’s narrow and uninformed nastiness, or shrug it off, and show the nation how to shrug it off – for the greater good. Trump would deliver big tax cuts for the wealthy, or at least get out of the way to let them pass, and he’d rid the nation of all that clean air and clean water regulation that was bad for business. And he did all that. And he’d deliver them judges who would be good for big business, not consumers, ever, and who would make abortion illegal again, and maybe birth control too, and bring mandatory Christian prayer back to public schools, and abolish Obamacare and any form of gay marriage too. Most of that was for the angry base. White grievance would assure votes for Trump. White folks were losing “their” country. Trump would bring it back. That was nonsense but Make America Great Again was a great hook.
Trump would do. They’d ride this tiger. Not that they had much choice. The angry base demanded Trump and they had no alternative to offer to that base. But how bad could that be? They got their tax cuts. It will take Joe Biden years to even begin to bring back any environmental rules and regulations at all. But the rest was a bit too much for the rest of America. White grievance isn’t everything, or everybody.
How bad could it be? They lost the White House. They lost the Senate. They never had the House. They had lost everything. And suddenly, Donald Trump was gone. This had been a bad bet. Don’t bet on crazy. That’s asking for trouble.
But now it’s too late. They may be the party of crazy. The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake notes the new problem:
Republicans knew they had a Marjorie Taylor Greene problem back in the summer of 2020 when she was running for Congress. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) called the QAnon supporter’s comments about Black people and Muslims “disgusting,” while a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called them “appalling.” Scalise backed her primary opponent.
Then she won, and Republicans tried to put a good face on it – even falsely claiming she had disavowed QAnon and suggesting the country should move on.
Nope. They’d made another bad bet:
That posture is looking increasingly untenable. Now that Greene is in Congress, the situation has spun further out of control for the GOP, with a steady stream of revelations about her extreme views and advocacy for fringe causes and baseless claims. That stream combined with Greene’s puzzling defense of herself should make Republicans wonder how long they can put up with this.
This is a problem far beyond Trump’s gleeful nastiness:
Tuesday’s revelation is particularly pertinent – and ugly. CNN’s KFile reported that Greene’s Facebook feed featured several endorsements of violence against Democrats and federal agents. In one case, she liked a comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” than removing Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from her speakership. She also liked a comment about Pelosi that said “through removal or death, doesn’t matter, as long as she goes.” She responded to another commenter who suggested hanging former president Barack Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton by saying: “Stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off.” She also liked comments suggesting execution for FBI agents who were viewed as working with the “deep state” against then-President Donald Trump.
This was awkward:
Greene’s comments on these matters come to light just three weeks after Trump supporters, including many QAnon subscribers, stormed the U.S. Capitol. Some indicated they intended to harm lawmakers, with chants of “Hang Mike Pence” for Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to take extraordinary action to overturn the 2020 election results. In other words, we have evidence that a member of Congress promoted the kind of extremism and even bloodlust that led to an attempted insurrection at the Capitol.
Oops. But her positions were always clear:
Supporting the false QAnon claims that hold there is a global pedophile cabal involving top U.S. political figures.
In another Facebook post revealed this week, promoting the false “Frazzledrip” claim about Clinton and a top aide, Huma Abedin, supposedly engaging in a satanic ritual involving the murder and mutilation of a child.
Liking a comment suggesting the 2018 massacre of students in Parkland, Fla., was a “false flag” and calling a student gun-control activist who attended the school “little Hitler”
Claiming much the same thing about the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Greene responded to a user who said it was a “STAGGED [sic] SHOOTING” by saying, “That’s all true.”
Baselessly claiming Pelosi cited the need for monthly school shootings to pass gun legislation.
Suggesting another mass shooting, in Las Vegas, was part of a plot to abolish the Second Amendment.
Saying the 2018 midterms, in which Democrats won the House, represented “an Islamic invasion of our government.”
Comparing Black Lives Matter activists to neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.
Claiming George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, collaborated with Nazis.
But don’t worry:
Greene suggested the comments weren’t actually from her, saying she had “teams” of people who managed her Facebook account. She also suggested the revelations aren’t pertinent because they came before she ran for Congress.
The newly revealed comments are from 2018 and 2019 – not exactly decades or even several years ago. She is a 46-year-old woman essentially arguing that comments she made when she was 44 don’t reflect upon her today or aren’t relevant. Has she really evolved that much in two years?
As for the idea that this wasn’t actually her: Did she really have “teams” of people working on her social media accounts when she was a private citizen? That would make sense as a candidate for Congress, but it seems a puzzling thing for someone in private life to delegate people not just to manage your accounts but also to post such incendiary things.
What’s more, the comments are in keeping with everything we have come to learn about Greene. She has spoken publicly on video, for example, about the possibility of Democrats including Pelosi being executed for treason. And even after the revelations on Tuesday, she responded to criticism from Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) by calling him a “heretic,” a crime for which many societies have used the death penalty.
Now what? That would be this:
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office said in a statement to Axios on Tuesday night that he was aware of “disturbing” comments Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia had made and endorsed before being elected to Congress…
“These comments are deeply disturbing, and Leader McCarthy plans to have a conversation with the congresswoman about them,” Mark Bednar, a representative for McCarthy, told Axios.
That’s it? That won’t do:
This isn’t the first time McCarthy has had to deal with inflammatory remarks from among his ranks. In 2019, Rep. Steve King of Iowa was stripped from his committee assignments after he publicly questioned why terms like “white nationalism” and “white supremacy” had become offensive.
King’s comments drew criticism from members of both parties, and McCarthy ensured he would take action against King after having “a serious conversation.”
Greene was elected in November to represent Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. She rose to prominence when she won the Republican primary, which all but assured that a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory would be elected to Congress.
In an August interview, King accused McCarthy of a double standard for saying Greene would be “welcomed” by the national party.
That is a bit awkward, but Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog thinks not:
Republicans are afraid of the voting bloc that regards her as a hero. So they’ll protect her. They’ll describe any attempts to drive her from Congress as “cancel culture.”
And why not? Democrats will never make a habit of arguing that the entire Republican Party is as bad as Greene. Only Republicans do that. They equate the entire Democratic Party with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar – who are decidedly to the left of center but have never threatened any president or member of Congress with death. Democrats, inexplicably, will never say that the GOP is the Marjorie Taylor Greene party.
When voters abandon the Republican Party because it’s lousy with extremists and conspiratorialists, when prominent officeholders are regularly asked whether they’ll disavow the party because of its clear support for extremism, then someone like Greene will be treated as the liability she is. But we’re not even close to that.
That’s a bit cynical, or maybe that’s just realistic:
It’s said that Donald Trump was such a scandal machine that we went numb during his presidency and weren’t able to respond to outrages the way we used to. Well, he’s gone now, but we’re still numb, aren’t we?
But he may be right about the Republicans. Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey report this:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced little more than a week ago that the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol had been “provoked” by Donald Trump. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Trump “bears responsibility” for failing to respond more quickly to the bloody incursion.
But that was then.
The nation’s two most powerful elected Republicans have signaled that they are ready to look past questions of responsibility for the violent effort to overturn the result of the presidential election, an attempt that left a Capitol Police officer and four rioters dead, as they maneuver to avoid a divisive battle within the Republican Party and try to position it to reclaim power in 2022.
McConnell (R-Ky.) voted Tuesday against a procedural motion to proceed with Trump’s impeachment in the Senate, while McCarthy (R-Calif.) planned to meet with Trump in Florida on Thursday to mend relations that were frayed by the Jan. 6 attack, according to an adviser to the former president.
McCarthy is a supplicant. He begs one thing of Trump. Please don’t hurt me!
Trump won’t hurt him, and McCarthy is making his bet right now:
McCarthy has rewarded with committee assignments new pro-Trump firebrands such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a QAnon supporter who in the past appeared to espouse violence toward Democratic leaders. Other members of Congress, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), have promised to inflict punishment on GOP colleagues who voted for Trump’s impeachment.
For party leadership and top election strategists, video of protesters pummeling Capitol Police officers or chanting for the death of Vice President Mike Pence has proved less germane to current considerations than the potential to quickly return to power. They have been calling for more party comity, even with those holding extremist views.
Trump will somehow seize power again. Be ready. Be on the right side of things, or at least on the winning side. The writing is on the wall:
Operating from Florida, Trump’s advisers have been encouraging party leaders to move on from impeachment and refrain from further criticism of the former president, even as they plot retribution against Republicans who opposed Trump’s final effort to overturn the election. Trump campaign advisers have commissioned and circulated to GOP lawmakers polling that shows him as still formidable in their states and made clear that he would seek revenge for votes against him.
“We cannot take the House and the Senate back without his help. That’s just a fact,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has called for prosecuting every person who illegally entered the U.S. Capitol but opposes impeachment.
“There are a lot of Republicans who hold their nose, but if you want to win, there are 6 million voters in 2016 who didn’t show up in 2018,” said a House Republican political strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to comment more frankly about Republican dependence on Trump’s most loyal fans…
And few Republicans will oppose them now:
The numbers have taken away any appetite for picking fights with the more divisive, conspiratorial and militant elements of the party. Instead, sentiment has gone the other way. The state party of Oregon released a statement this week that compared Republicans who voted to impeach Trump a second time to the traitor Benedict Arnold and suggesting that the Capitol attack had been a “false flag” effort by Trump opponents. The state party of Arizona last weekend voted to censure Gov. Doug Ducey (R) for standing by the accuracy of President Biden’s win in the state, a move that was dismissed as unimportant by Ducey’s aides.
In response, McCarthy has focused on finding a way to keep his conference together, giving committee assignments to members such as Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who tweeted “Today is 1776” before the Capitol riot, and Greene, who also urged protests at the Capitol.
But there is some resistance:
A small and vocal minority of Republicans have continued to call for a reckoning over the extremist and anti-democratic currents that Trump has encouraged. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Tuesday in an address to the Economic Club of Chicago that Republicans must now make clear that Trump lost the election “fair and square.”
“Five people died with the attack on the Capitol. Five human beings died,” Romney said. “There is no question but that the president incited the insurrection that occurred.”
The Lincoln Project, a group of Republican and former Republican strategists that has pledged to stamp out Trumpism, also has continued to attack members of the party who support Trump, including McCarthy and McConnell.
“This is a submission, a surrender to Trump’s coalition but most importantly to the anti-Americanness of that coalition,” said Lincoln Project co-founder Steve Schmidt, a former aide to Vice President Richard B. Cheney and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “They are foolish men who continue to believe they are riding the tiger as opposed to riding inside the tiger, which they have been doing for some time.”
And this has lead to this announcement:
The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning Wednesday to alert the public about the growing threat of “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” agitated about President Biden’s inauguration and “perceived grievances fueled by false narratives.”
DHS periodically issues such advisories through its National Terrorism Advisory System, but the warnings have typically been generated by concerns about attacks by foreign governments or radical groups, not domestic extremists.
In a statement, the department said the purpose of the new bulletin was to warn the public about a “heightened threat environment” across the United States “that is likely to persist over the coming weeks.”
The bulletin is a lesser-status warning designed to alert the public about general risks, rather than an imminent attack or a specific threat.
But the threat is real:
“DHS does not have any information to indicate a specific, credible plot; however, violent riots have continued in recent days and we remain concerned that individuals frustrated with the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances and ideological causes fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors to incite or commit violence,” the statement read.
The most recent bulletins DHS has issued – both in January 2020 – warned the public about an elevated threat from Iran. No other bulletin in recent years has been issued to alert Americans about violence by domestic extremists, records show. The new bulletin will remain in place through April 30. It does not mention any specific right-wing or left-wing groups and instead describes the intensification of a broader agitation that built up over the past year.
Who needs Iran? We have the Proud Boys. And we still have Donald Trump:
“Throughout 2020, Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) targeted individuals with opposing views engaged in First Amendment-protected, nonviolent protest activity,” the bulletin states. “DVEs motivated by a range of issues, including anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force have plotted and on occasion carried out attacks against government facilities.”
It added: “DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities.”
So let that be a warning to Marjorie Taylor Greene:
Tom Warrick, a career counterterrorism official at DHS who served under Democratic and Republican administrations, said the purpose of the bulletin was to send a clear message about the “return of the bright line between protected speech and acts of violence that are considered domestic terrorism.”
And there was this:
MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace said Wednesday if Republicans really want to stand by Donald Trump even after the violent storming of the Capitol, “knock yourself out.”
On Tuesday 45 Republican senators – including Mitch McConnell – voted to dismiss the impeachment trial out of hand on Tuesday. Only five Republicans dissented.
Wallace, after touting her colleague Joe Scarborough’s “epic rant“ against senators wanting to move on, said, “Republicans want to stand with Donald Trump on inciting an insurrection, knock yourself out. You’ll make the job of burning the party to the ground faster and easier.”
And her guest chimed in:
The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker recalled covering Trump back in 2015 and recalled telling editors, “We need a reporter at every single Trump event, because pretty soon things are going to get violent and going to want to have someone on the ground to cover it.”
Will things get violent? The New York Times’ David Sanger adds context:
An intelligence official involved in drafting Wednesday’s bulletin said the decision to issue the report was driven by the department’s conclusion that Mr. Biden’s peaceful inauguration last week could create a false sense of security because “the intent to engage in violence has not gone away” among extremists angered by the outcome of the presidential election.
The warning contained in a “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” was a notable departure for a Department of Homeland Security accused of being reluctant during the Trump administration to publish intelligence reports or public warnings about the dangers posed by domestic extremists and white supremacist groups for fear of angering Mr. Trump, according to current and former homeland security officials.
Trump is the issue:
Starting with the deadly extremist protest in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, when Mr. Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides,” he played down any danger posed by extremist groups. And when racial justice protests erupted nationwide last year, his consistent message was that it was the so-called radical left that was to blame for the violence and destruction that had punctuated the demonstrations.
Even after the Department of Homeland Security in September 2019 singled out white supremacists as a leading domestic terrorism threat, analysts and intelligence officials said their warnings were watered down, delayed or both. Former officials in the Trump administration have even said that White House officials sought to suppress the phrase “domestic terrorism.”
The intelligence official involved with the bulletin, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss its findings, added that the public warning should have been issued as early as November, when Mr. Trump was making an escalating series of false accusations about the election, and that far-right groups continued to be galvanized by such false statements.
But it’s never too late. Republicans will make Marjorie Taylor Greene go away and move on from Donald Trump and… no, wait. It is too late. The Republican Party has gone Greene.