Thursday, January 28, 2021

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy shows that the GOP is cowardly in dealing with Trump and violence

What will Republicans do about Trumpist radicalism in their own ranks? Most likely nothing. They have a very short memory for their own complicity in the Jan. 6 riot. That Q&A is explored in three featured articles.

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) reports on how Marjorie Taylor Greene’s record of radicalism gets even worse. The question isn’t whether Marjorie Taylor Greene’s radicalism is defensible. The question is what Kevin McCarthy will do about it.

As I said: must likely nothing. Scratch that. Make it “worse than nothing”.

When it comes to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) record of radicalism, there are basically two parallel tracks to consider. The first is the right-wing congresswoman’s sillier political antics, which include having filed impeachment articles against President Joe Biden on his first day in office and claiming she was “censored” on the House floor while her remarks were broadcast to a national television audience.

The second is much less amusing.

Greene, whose association with the crackpot QAnon garbage is well documented, has also embraced other deranged conspiracy theories. Last week, Media Matters noted a newly uncovered online exchange in which Greene in 2018 agreed with a Facebook commenter who claimed that 9/11 “was done by our own gov[ernment]” and that “none of the school shootings were real or done by the ones who were supposedly arrested for them,” including the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

CNN reported yesterday, meanwhile, that the Georgia Republican also “repeatedly indicated support for executing prominent Democratic politicians in 2018 and 2019 before being elected to Congress.”

In one post, from January 2019, Greene liked a comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In other posts, Greene liked comments about executing FBI agents who, in her eyes, were part of the “deep state” working against Trump. In one Facebook post from April 2018, Greene wrote conspiratorially about the Iran Deal, one of former President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievements. A commenter asked Greene, “Now do we get to hang them ?? Meaning H [and] O ???,” referring to Obama and Hillary Clinton. Greene replied, “Stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off.”

Two years later, Greene was elected to Congress.

A spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Axios overnight that the GOP leader is aware of the comments and will discuss them with Greene. The emailed statement added, in reference to the revelations from the CNN report, “These comments are deeply disturbing and Leader McCarthy plans to have a conversation with the congresswoman about them.”

And who knows, maybe McCarthy, who embraced Greene as a member in good standing after her election in November, and who urged the political world to give her “an opportunity” to succeed, will take this matter seriously. Perhaps the House Republican leader will conclude that Greene is simply too radical for an ostensibly mainstream political party to tolerate.

Or maybe McCarthy will find some new excuse to defend the indefensible.

As we recently discussed, House Republican leaders have meaningful options. McCarthy and his team could call for Greene’s expulsion from the U.S. House. They could also strip Greene of her committee assignments – which is precisely what McCarthy did to then-Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) two years ago, concluding at the time that the House Republican conference would no longer “tolerate” the Iowan’s record of racism.

Indeed, by taking actions to sanction King in 2019, saying his extremism was simply intolerable to the GOP, Republican leaders, whether they intended to or not, set a standard. By treating the radicals in their conference as normal members, the party’s congressional leadership is effectively extending its imprimatur to extremists like Greene, making clear that King’s racism may have been too much, but these radicals’ dangerous conspiracy theories are in line with the party’s values.

If Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team are willing to prove otherwise, now is their chance. The question isn’t whether Marjorie Taylor Greene’s radicalism is defensible; it’s obviously not. The question is whether House Republican leaders will pass the test Greene’s radicalism has created for them.

Here is one sign that the Republicans are sticking to Trump - like flies on a pile of sh!t.

McCarthy to visit the former president in Florida, showing where he stands in a post-Trump Republican Party reports CNN.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had an important decision to make — stick with former President Donald Trump and his loyalists in the Freedom Caucus, or side with more establishment House Republicans who want to take the party back.

The answer became clear when instead of calling Trump, as he often did when Trump was president, he is now set to visit with Trump in Florida on Thursday. The meeting was initiated by McCarthy, a person familiar with the meeting said, and is part of an effort to get back into the good graces of the former president.

McCarthy has backtracked on Trump’s role in the insurrection as recently as this week, when he was criticized at his most recent news conference for saying he didn’t believe Trump “provoked” the insurrection “if you listen to what he said at the rally” – after saying two weeks earlier that Trump bears responsibility.

When asked in an interview Sunday with Gray Television if he had changed his stance on Trump’s role in the Capitol attack, he said: “No, I have not changed in that.”

“I thought the president had some responsibility when it came to the response. If you listen to what the president said at the rally, he said, ‘Demonstrate peacefully,’ ” he told Greta Van Susteren.

As I said: it’s worse than nothing. McCarthy is not above rewriting history.

Many Republicans are choosing collective amnesia of Jan. 6. That would be disastrous opines Michael Gerson writing in the Washington Post (via Daily Star).

This party-wide retreat from memory and accountability has been symbolized by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s ritual renunciation of his initial moral sanity. When the violence was fresh, he affirmed that President Donald Trump “bears responsibility for [the] attack on Congress by mob rioters.” More recently, under political pressure, McCarthy (R-Calif.) claimed: “I don’t believe he provoked it.” In the process, a whole generation of idealistic young people has been given a reliable guide to public character: Don’t be like this man.

Those politicians, such as Trump, who view the political enterprise as nothing more than a dirty game are quite literally shameless. Those such as McCarthy, who choose cowardice over sacrifice, are discrediting their calling.

Now Trump is impeached and to be tried. What will the Republicans do about that? Gerson gets the last word.

By convicting Trump, Senate Republicans would be saying that the insurrection was something very different: the last gasp of a dying presidency, a uniformly condemned outbreak of hatred and an act of eternal dishonor.

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