Premium

QAnon-er who won Georgia House primary was once a 9/11 Truther too, of course

The thing about people with one really bad idea is they never have only one really bad idea.

There are no flat-earthers, say, who are perfectly sober and reasonable about 9/11, the Kennedy assassination, vaccines, and/or geopolitics writ large.

What makes this clip newsworthy isn’t just the fact that Marjorie Taylor Greene won the GOP primary in Georgia’s overwhelmingly red 14th District, it’s that there’s growing angst about it on the Hill. Republican sources have gone running to the media to complain — anonymously, of course — that Kevin McCarthy screwed up egregiously by not doing more to help Greene’s opponent in the Republican House primary. As dirt on her starts to pile up, the party’s headache about what to do with her now that she’s the nominee and heavily favored to win in November will grow. This video will make it harder for him McCarthy and the House GOP leadership to ignore her.

She doesn’t mention Dick Cheney there but I doubt there’s a 9/11 Truther on earth who thinks he was completely uninvolved in whatever their theory of the attacks happens to be. Cheney was always touted by Dubya’s critics as “Bush’s brain,” the sinister, scheming neocon puppetmaster who pulled Bush’s strings to get the U.S. into another war for oil or whatever. How do we suppose Greene is going to get along next year with the third-ranking GOPer in the House, the head of the House Republican Conference, Dick’s daughter, Liz?

I’m curious to see if House Republicans react differently, i.e. more vociferously, to this 9/11 clip than they reacted to her primary victory. Reporters have been calling around asking for comment about her QAnon pedigree and gotten a big “nope” at every turn. Adam Kinzinger tweeted something critical of QAnon yesterday, and Denver Riggleman — who just lost his primary — told Politico that QAnon is “mental gonorrhea,” but that’s been the extent of the criticism. There are two reasons why GOP congressmen might react differently to 9/11 Truth crankery than QAnon crankery. One is that Republicans are the villains in 9/11 conspiracy theories whereas Democrats are the villains in the QAnon cult. It’s one thing to accuse Joe Biden of drinking children’s blood with the Clintons or whatever, but accuse George W. Bush of blowing up the Twin Towers and, well, now you’ve crossed the line.

The other reason, relatedly, is that congressional Republicans potentially have something to lose by criticizing QAnon. 9/11 Truth is sufficiently passe that McCarthy or Cheney or whoever else could say something disapproving of this clip of Greene and probably not offend many Q-bots. Questioning the gospel according to Q would be much more politically risky. There are a lot of cult members out there, and they vote. In fact, the Times asks a question today that I asked yesterday in my post about Greene: What if QAnon is a new, hyper-fringey tea party?

QAnon followers have left the dark corners of the internet and established a large and growing presence on mainstream social media platforms. Twitter recently announced it was removing or limiting the visibility of more than 150,000 QAnon-related accounts, and NBC News reported this week that a Facebook internal investigation into QAnon’s presence on its platform found thousands of active QAnon groups and pages, with millions of followers among them…

One advantage QAnon has over earlier insurgent movements is improved technology. John Birch Society members had to resort to pamphleteering and newspaper ads, and the Tea Party — which kicked off with a CNBC anchor’s televised rant — relied heavily on the existing conservative media apparatus to spread its message.

But QAnon is native to the internet, and moves at the speed of social media. Since 2017, QAnon followers have built out an impressive media ecosystem encompassing Facebook groups, YouTube channels and Discord servers. These spaces serve both as sources of news and virtual water-coolers where followers socialize, trade new theories and memes, and strategize about growing their ranks.

There’s no telling how many believers there are but there were indeed millions of members of QAnon groups on Facebook until the company started shutting them down. Say something dismissive of Q as a House Republican and it could be your undoing in a primary. That’s the state of the American right in 2020.

The problem is, as more comes out on Greene, the silence becomes a political liability too. As I was writing this post, I saw this months-old story about her from Jewish Insider flagged on Twitter. Here’s the person whom Trump described yesterday as a future star of the party:

In a post on the now-defunct website American Truth Seekers archived on the Wayback Machine, an author named Marjorie Greene made claims about George Soros, the Rothschild banking family and factions of the Saudi Arabian monarchy as part of QAnon, a conspiracy theory that claims that President Donald Trump is secretly working to take down a massive cabal of political elites and celebrities who practice pedophilia, satanism and human sacrifice.

On her campaign’s Facebook page, Greene speculated that demonic possession or military technology allowing individuals to project messages into others’ heads could be responsible for school shootings, and indicated that she believes some school shootings are fake.

As I say, no one with one really bad idea has just one really bad idea.

Republicans far beyond Greene’s district are going to have their faces rubbed in stuff like that, which is why so many of McCarthy’s colleagues are pissed off. “Kevin McCarthy puffed his chest out about stripping Steve King of his committee assignments, then sat on the sidelines and let another Steve King walk away with this race in GA14,” said one Republican source to Politico. “It’s political malpractice and Republicans will be answering for her for years to come.” A House Republican told The Hill, “It is a really ugly outcome — an embarrassment for our party. And [it is] unfortunate our party leadership did not address that issue.” An aide added, “McCarthy is clearly so paranoid about not having the support of the far right for his own Speaker race that he was willing to throw the rest of the conference under the bus by backing this woman and now making everyone else have to answer for her.”

Allegedly McCarthy spoke to Greene’s primary opponent two weeks ago and told him, “I’m solidly with you,” with a promise that help from leadership was on the way. In the end, nothing happened. Result: McCarthy’s office is now telling Politico that yes, of course Greene will be welcomed into the conference and given committee assignments.

All we’re doing here is re-learning the lesson of 2016, which is that there’s no such thing as a Republican who’s unfit for office, no matter how much of a crank he or she might be:

The salient fact about QAnon is that it’s an entirely populist phenomenon, and Republican leaders in the age of Trump are forever scrambling to show themselves as populists at heart. To their great shame, both Kelly Loeffler and Doug Collins — the two Republican combatants in Georgia’s Senate special election — were quick to congratulate Greene yesterday on her primary win, with Collins praising her for having “created a tidal wave among the voters” and Loeffler adding that ”It’s clear that we need more outsiders with business sense in Washington.” (Loeffler’s desperation in building populist cred is consistently embarrassingly heavy-handed.) Good luck to Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz and every other populist 2024 hopeful in trying to stay on the good side of these people in a national primary without sounding completely batsh*t.

Update: Oh, good. She’s “moderating.”

What about military technology beaming homicidal thoughts into school shooters’ heads? Still solid on that, or 50/50, or what?