The longer this goes on, the less it becomes a story about Nancy Mace and Marjorie Taylor Greene and the more it becomes a story about McCarthy. Has there been a weaker caucus leader in our lifetimes?
Be fair if your answer to that question is “no,” though: Would anyone else do better in the role given the hostage-crisis dynamic that defines the party in 2021? Whoever ends up as House GOP leader will be little more than a viceroy for Trump. Their power over the caucus will derive entirely from Trump’s power over the Republican base. (Greene understands that keenly.) If Trump wants A and the new Republican Speaker wants B, House Republicans will be free to choose A without fear of repercussions. It’s those who choose B who need to worry.
Yesterday Mace and Greene spent hours on Twitter jabbing at each other, a social-media spat among two members of the same caucus without precedent as far as I can recall. McCarthy called them onto the carpet privately to demand that they stop embarrassing the party. When the head of the caucus and likely next Speaker tells a freshman that they’re creating a problem for him, normally they snap to attention for fear of being punished with poor committee assignments, little input on legislation, etc.
But Greene and Mace know that McCarthy doesn’t have ultimate authority over his caucus the way Pelosi does. So they gave his warning the appropriate amount of deference.
McCarthy had a meeting with Greene and Mace and told them to stop. Greene walked out of the meeting, ignored McCarthy, and started telling a reporter that she supports a primary challenge against Mace pic.twitter.com/hJ4yohW2uS
— Acyn (@Acyn) December 1, 2021
Mace was so proud of her quote that her campaign highlighted it in a tweet:
Here for it. https://t.co/NBWROLFjS1
— Nancy Mace (@NancyMace) December 1, 2021
Greene kept swinging too:
Like I said.@NancyMace is Pro-Abortion.
Protecting abortion IS Pro-Abortion.
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) November 30, 2021
Mace ended up on Guy Benson’s radio show and threw another roundhouse at Greene: “She’s a grifter, she lies to grift and it’s not okay, she is pulling the wool over so many eyes, so many vulnerable people. Lying to them like she’s fighting for them… She hasn’t done a damn thing since she got into office.” She’s right about the last part; Greene is a sh*tposter at heart, not a legislator. I remember her crowing after she was stripped of her committee assignments that not having to do actual legislative work would free her up to attack Democrats, a supreme example of the House MAGA caucus’s priorities. But Mace is misdiagnosing Greene as a “grifter.” Many big-name MAGA personalities are grifters, going along with the right’s populist tide to build influence and/or line their pockets, but there’s no reason to think that of Greene. She was pushing conspiracy theories years before she got to Congress. She’s a true-blue crank.
Anyway. What now, Kevin?
But his failure to tamp down the attacks — largely from the right wing of his conference against his more moderate colleagues — is causing growing concern in the ranks, with one GOP lawmaker calling Greene in particular “poisonous” to the party.
“If Kevin McCarthy does not get Marjorie Taylor Greene in line somewhat, either through the conference disciplining her, or privately, it is going to undermine our efforts,” the lawmaker said. “And this is where leadership can step up. And I think if he doesn’t, you’re going to have a bit more of a civil war on your hands.”…
“Have you ever seen a team where they should be winning, and you’ll just look on the sidelines and then coach is yelling at a player, players yell at the coach and it doesn’t show they’re on track to win,” said Rep. Brett Guthrie, a Kentucky Republican. “Anytime we’re not focusing on what they’re doing and what we want to do, I think it’s not a good thing.”
There’s a reason the anonymous House Republican quoted there is anonymous and it’s not because he or she fears Kevin McCarthy. Why don’t the moderates in the caucus get together and make a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to try to convince the real head of the caucus that Greene and the MAGAs are risking a smaller Republican majority in the House in 2023?
Or they could take Charlie Sykes’s advice and just let Greene be viceroy instead:
It’s not just that MTG represents the party’s id — in touch with both the base and the Orange-God-King-in-Exile — she runs the place anyway. Why not make it official? And anointing her has the added benefit of honesty…
MTG has moved easily into the role of ideological enforcer, demanding retribution against RINOs like Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and John Katko — but also keeping her fellow deplorables in line…
Like so many other GOP “leaders” McCarthy is under the impression that he can emasculate his way to power.
He imagines that he can surrender his testicles, put them in a lock box, and somehow re-attach them when he comes to power.
Making Greene Speaker would have the virtue of truth in advertising. Why keep McCarthy on as the “respectable” face of the party while the MAGAs quietly run the show? Either make Trump Speaker or elect his most loyal servant in the caucus to the job. Let swing voters across the country have an up-or-down vote on making Marjorie Taylor Greene the second-most powerful Republican in the country.
Democrats, meanwhile, are enjoying this…
"Republicans are having a complete and total meltdown," House Dem Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries says.
"'Liar,' 'clown,' 'trash,' 'grifter,' 'nuts,'" he says of the Mace-MTG tit-for-tat. "Instead of focusing on the problems of the American people, they are attacking each other."
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) December 1, 2021
…but they won’t enjoy having to decide what to do about Lauren Boebert, who was pushed by McCarthy into trying to apologize to Ilhan Omar before that went as badly as everyone though it would. The Squad wants formal discipline for Boebert; the Democratic leadership would rather avoid it, not wanting to further normalize the practice of the majority punishing the minority knowing that Dems are headed for a midterm wipeout next year. Omar and her allies are keeping the pressure on them, though, by publicizing the threats she’s gotten recently after the blow-up with Boebert. Your move, Pelosi.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) plays a horrific death threat she received following Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) recent Islamophobic attacks on her.
Warning: It's incredibly graphic. pic.twitter.com/5PGODcaJOu
— The Recount (@therecount) November 30, 2021