In the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans have 211 members. Only 11 of them voted to support a Democratic motion to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her duties on the education and budget committees.
No matter that this is the newly elected Congresswoman who sided with QAnon conspiracists, who doubted 9/11 really happened, who suggested that mass shootings were politically orchestrated “false flag” events and endorsed the view that many high-profile Democrats should be executed. On a lighter note she also opined that the California wildfires were triggered by a secret space laser to make way for a high-speed rail corridor.
But all that was not enough to prevent Republicans from voting overwhelmingly to keep her in a decision-making role on the education of the nation’s youth. Their wishes were blocked by the Democratic majority, which passed the resolution. But the day served as another missed opportunity for the Republicans to get back on the road to integrity. Instead, the resonating message was: We stand with our crackpots.
As a capsule comment, I was reminded of a quote from Gerald Ford, the president who followed Richard Nixon. “If Abraham Lincoln were alive today,” lamented Ford, who was a victim of the occasional malapropism, “he’d roll over in his grave.”
Before the vote Ms. Greene, who won election in a Georgia district, expressed regret for some of her positions, including her view that no airplane struck the Pentagon on 9/11. “I also want to tell you, 9/11 absolutely happened,” she declared, as if it was gracious of her to concede the startlingly obvious. For that and other concessions, though no clear apology, her colleagues gave her a standing ovation.
Prior to the vote, Steny Hoyer, the Democrats majority leader, displayed a Facebook posting from the Greene campaign showing her standing with an assault rifle juxtaposed with three left-wing Democratic Congresswomen with the caption, “The Squad’s Worst Nightmare.”
Though not voting to take away her committee duties, many Republicans did express strong opposition to her statements. And in another vote they did save some face. They voted to keep Liz Cheney in her leadership post, rejecting a push by Donald Trump supporters to have her ousted for having come out in favour of his impeachment.
Mr. Trump had labelled Ms. Greene a future party star. Many Republicans were likely thinking of staying in his good graces in voting to support her. They also noted that her vile pronouncements were spoken before being elected and that she did take some of the statements back.
The Democrats’ action against Ms. Greene was deemed to be without precedent. Republicans bitterly complained of the precedent of the majority party stripping opposition members of committee assignments on account of statements that don’t meet its approval.
They said Democrat members had been guilty of offensive or ridiculous assertions without penalty. For examples they pointed to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who made remarks deemed anti-Semitic (for which she apologized), and to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said last year that “The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” Senator Rand Paul ridiculed the statement, saying something had to be done to fight climate change “over the next 500 million years.” To which AOC, agog that he didn’t get that she was being sarcastic, shot back, “You’d have to have the social intelligence of a sea sponge to think it’s literal.”
Drawing any kind of Democrat equivalence to the extremism of Ms. Greene is a head scratcher, but it was the defence adopted by Fox News commentators and other far-right thinkers.
In her statement of regret, Ms. Greene suggested she had been influenced in making her wingnut observations by higher-ups. No doubt, Mr. Trump could have served as a role model. On his highlight reel are claims that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., that Senator Ted Cruz’s father was in on the plot to kill John F. Kennedy, that TV anchor Joe Scarborough may have murdered one of his staffers when he was a Congressman, that Joe Biden appeared to be taking performance enhancing drugs and was being controlled by “people that are in the dark shadows,” and that he (Trump) won a landslide in the 2020 election.
In 2019 Grand Old Party members saw it fit to remove then-congressman Steve King from his committee assignments after he publicly questioned why the term “white supremacist” was offensive.
They couldn’t bring themselves to vote in favour of doing it this time even though the case before them was more egregious. It’s yet another sign of moral decline, the next test of which comes next week when the Senate trial begins on Mr. Trump’s impeachment charge.
Guess how they’ll be voting on that one.
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