Normally it’d be silly to ask the caucus leader to back a primary against any of his members. Leaders don’t do that. As a rule, they either support incumbents for reelection or, if they can’t bring themselves to do that for whatever reason, they stay neutral.
But McCarthy dispensed with that rule when he announced two weeks ago that he’d support Harriet Hageman, Liz Cheney’s primary challenger, in Wyoming.
That’s his prerogative. If the caucus leader is willing to work against his own members, there’s nothing stopping him.
It does, however, open him up to demands that he explain why he isn’t working against other problematic members too. John McCormack wants to know why Liz Cheney gets a McCarthy-backed challenger while this character doesn’t:
As Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep Paul Gosar speak at this white supremacist, anti-Semitic, pro-Putin event, silence by Republican Party leaders is deafening and enabling.
All Americans should renounce this garbage and reject the Putin wing of the GOP now. pic.twitter.com/6fgpV6ohZ8
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) February 26, 2022
McCarthy claimed to be outraged when asked yesterday by reporters about Greene’s — and Paul Gosar’s — appearance at the America First PAC conference, the white-nationalist answer to CPAC this past weekend. “Last week, I was just in Israel,” he told Punchbowl News. “When I come back, I see two colleagues who went and participated with a group that has a leader that many times gives antisemitic views and led a chant for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. For me it was appalling and wrong. And there’s no place in our party for any of this.” When told of Greene’s preposterous excuse afterward that she didn’t realize she was addressing a crowd of racists (“young patriots,” she called them), McCarthy was unsparing. The pro-Putin sentiments in Nick Fuentes’s introduction should have led her to walk off the stage right then and there, he told CNN, promising to discuss the matter with her and Gosar.
Today he was asked about it again and seemed to have lost all interest in the subject.
Kevin McCarthy doesn’t want to comment on Marjorie Taylor Greene appearing at a white nationalist conference pic.twitter.com/BeWwuK4mkE
— Acyn (@Acyn) March 1, 2022
I don’t care if he discusses anything with her. All I and McCormack want to know is whether he’ll give Greene the same treatment he gave Cheney. Greene has speculated in the past about California’s wildfires being caused by the Rothschilds and compared the House mask mandate to Nazi persecution, which led to a visit last summer to Washington’s Holocaust museum and a promise to be more sensitive in such matters. Eight months later, she’s speaking to Fuentes and his clique. She’s a constant embarrassment to the party and a liability in swing districts by dint of her high public profile.
Oh, and she has a primary challenger in her district. So how about it, Kevin?
If McCarthy’s willing to go all-in against Cheney but not against Greene, the takeaway will be that the GOP is more offended by anti-insurrectionism than by anti-semitism. Or, I guess, that Trump is more offended by anti-insurrectionism than anti-semitism and the party must dutifully adopt his priorities as its own.
Which they have, no?
CPAC Chair @mschlapp —> I think it’s great that Marjorie Taylor Greene was on this stage because she was elected…if I had said you couldn’t come into this room, how would that make America better?
NBC: Did you extend an invite to Liz Cheney?
Schlapp: No. pic.twitter.com/9sOlyu7cyo
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) February 26, 2022
The irony of McCarthy’s predicament with Greene is that it’s of his own making. He was warned about her being a crank in 2020 when she ran for Congress. Her primary opponents pleaded with the GOP establishment for financial help to defeat her, something the party should have supplied in the name of sparing itself from a completely predictable chronic political headache if she made it to Congress. McCarthy never mobilized, though. Greene ended up winning the primary and the general election in her district and now here we are two years later, with McCarthy having to issue occasional reminders that no, the GOP doesn’t support speaking at racist political rallies.
His colleagues in the House and Senate who are being asked uncomfortable questions today about Greene’s latest black eye for the party should thank him the next time they see him for gifting the party with her presence.
A follow-up question to McCormack’s, by the way: Can we expect an RNC resolution of censure for Greene and Gosar in the near future or is do you have to do something as indefensible as making trouble for the people who incited the insurrection to earn that sort of reprimand? Stay tuned:
Ronna McDaniel, chair of the RNC, issued a statement in the immediate aftermath of the America First conference that slammed “white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry” as “disgusting” and vowed they would have “no home in the Republican Party.” Asked for comment during a Monday press call on Greene and Gosar, whom she didn’t name directly in those remarks, McDaniel reiterated her previous statement.
While one RNC member suggested on Twitter that he would prepare a resolution censuring Greene and Gosar, McDaniel said that the next party meeting in August will be the forum for further debate on the topic.
Anyone think they’re going to dredge up this episode in August, three months before the midterms, to vote on a censure resolution instead of quietly hoping everyone forgets about it? Especially with Trump reminding McDaniel that Greene is one of his favorite members of the GOP?
Exit quotation from Adam Kinzinger, commenting on Greene and Gosar: “What I think we should do is kick them out of the party. What do I think we’re going to do? Nothing. Liz and I can get censured, they’re going to get help up as the future leaders of the party.”
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