Greene: On second thought, never mind about that "America First" caucus

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Wouldn’t life and governance work so much better if people actually engaged second thoughts before acting on their first thoughts? If Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar had exercised any kind of political discretion, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and most of their Republican colleagues wouldn’t have had to distance themselves from this galactically stupid proposal for an “America First caucus” in the House.

Instead, a day later we got an explanation of second thoughts … and first read-throughs:

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is not launching an “America First” caucus and said she had not read the document shared by Punchbowl News on Friday that emphasized “Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

This is a reversal from a day prior, when a spokesperson for the Georgia Republican told CNN in a statement to “be on the look out for the release of the America First Caucus platform when it’s announced to the public very soon.”

On Saturday, the same spokesperson, Nick Dyer, told the outlet Greene is not “launching anything” and the document that was released was “an early planning proposal and nothing was agreed to or approved.” …

Rep. Paul Gosar, who Punchbowl News reported was also behind the proposal, also released a statement saying he had no prior knowledge of it prior to reading about it in the news on Friday.

The document only had one reference to “Anglo-Saxon political traditions,” which was one too many. It comes in the platform plank on immigration, and it stuck out like a sore thumb:

The America First Caucus recognizes that our country is more than a mass of consumers or a series of abstract ideas. America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions. History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country.

Assigning that kind of protective immigration stance to “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” is amusing, considering the history of the Angles and Saxons. Presumably, what the authors wanted to say was English political traditions, on which much of our common law is based, not Anglo-Saxons — who, after all, imported themselves en masse into Britannia over a period of a couple of centuries, and then resisted Danish attempts to displace them in kind for another couple of centuries.

McCarthy called the reference to “Anglo-Saxon” traditions a “nativist dog whistle,” as many of his caucus rallied against the proposal:

Having splashed egg all over their faces, Greene and Gosar now want to distance themselves from the proposal. In Greene’s case, that will be tough, considering she endorsed the caucus the day after this platform got published by Punchbowl News. She’s blaming the media for this mistake, which will no doubt be well received among her supporters, but Greene’s playing in the big leagues now. If she can’t keep from making unforced errors like this, she won’t stay up in The Show for very long.

As for McCarthy, this is an easy win for him, but the GOP has a real problem with its nativist fringe. This won’t be the last time they will distract from what should be an easy win to a majority in Joe Biden’s first midterms as president. He has to keep them in line without splitting the party even more than it already threatens to fracture on Donald Trump’s fault lines. This may be an early test of his ability to do just that — and if that’s the case, so far so good.