Guest column by Eric Levine, a New York-based attorney and GOP fundraiser..
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently warned members of the House Republican Conference against criticizing colleagues by name, based on intelligence that doing so could trigger more political violence. One exception to McCarthy’s admonition must apply to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Let us be clear at the outset: She is a bigot. She is a nut. And if Republicans do not quickly and decisively put distance between the party and her, they will pay a very heavy price. Republicans in no way should want to be associated with this insanity, and leadership needs to repudiate clearly and unequivocally the statements as well as the speaker. There can be no ambiguity or wiggle room. Silence is not an option. The press will portray silence as acquiescence.
As reported Thursday, Greene’s hit parade of lunatic musings include:
• Donald Trump is secretly fighting a worldwide child-sex-slavery ring
• 9/11 was an inside job
• The shootings at Parkland, Sandy Hook and Las Vegas were staged
• “Zionist supremacists” are secretly masterminding Muslim immigrants to Europe in a scheme to outbreed white people
• Leading Democrat officials should be executed
• The wildfires in California were not natural, but started by PG&E in conjunction with the Rothschilds, using a space laser to clear room for a high-speed rail project.
As it relates to McCarthy’s concerns about political violence, in this instance those concerns are likely misplaced. From where would that violence come and against whom would it be directed? The fringe wingnuts who would engage in political violence are likely supporters of the criminals that stormed the capitol Jan. 6 and subscribe to many of Greene’s rantings. It is highly unlikely that she would be at any risk.
In contrast to calling out and repudiating Greene and her grotesque statements, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz recently traveled to Cheyenne, Wyo., to speak in front of the Wyoming State Capitol building to encourage a crowd he helped gather to vote House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney out of office.
This is noteworthy for a host of reasons. First, it is of course contrary to McCarthy’s directive. More importantly, Cheney’s primary opponent is Anthony Bouchard, a supporter of Marjorie Greene. In a Facebook post last year, he announced that “[w]e need more people like Marjorie in Congress.”
Does Gaetz believe we need more people like Greene in Congress? He should be pressed on this issue and forced to tell us where he stands. If he cannot renounce Greene, Bouchard and their statements, Republicans need to revisit his role in the party. Gaetz’s conduct also runs afoul of McCarthy’s well-placed concerns about political violence. It is no coincidence that the crowd was summoned to the Wyoming Capitol building, much like the domestic terrorists went to the U.S. Capitol. It was meant to intimidate Cheney and her supporters. This is the potential political violence McCarthy was concerned about.
The Republican Party has a great deal of soul searching to do. It starts with deciding who we are and what we stand for. The party can have no room in it for Greene or Bouchard or those who work to have them elected. I also believe that Republicans will pick up far more voters than they will lose by telling mainstream America we are with you, not the fringe. Moreover, we cannot demand that the Democrat Party renounce the ascendant anti-Semites in the Progressive wing of their party if we are not prepared to take on the bigots in ours.