Marjorie Taylor Greene proves Trumpism without Trump is just as obnoxious

Marjorie Taylor Greene is the personification of the post-Trump GOP doctrine

Ahmed Baba
Thursday 09 February 2023 09:27 GMT
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President Biden was clearly enjoying himself. After spending the first part of his State of the Union address energetically emphasizing bipartisanship and promoting his legislative accomplishments, the president was ready to set some policy contrasts with the GOP. And Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was ready to prove once again that Trumpism without Trump is just as obnoxious.

"Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what their plans are," asserted President Biden. Some jeers broke out among Republicans. The cameras panned to Rep Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who could be seen shaking her head.

President Biden continued: "Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset..." More jeers interrupted Biden mid-sentence. "I’m not saying it’s a majority of you," Biden qualified. An uproar of universal boos and shouts from Republican members rang out as Speaker Kevin McCarthy shook his head over Biden’s left shoulder. Amid the noisy backdrop, Biden went off script, snapping back, "Anybody who doubts it, contact my office. I’ll give you a copy of the proposal," referencing Senator Rick Scott’s proposal to sunset Social Security and Medicare.

"Liar!" Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene yelled. Biden went back and forth with members, in a manner more reminiscent of the UK Parliament than the US Congress. After Biden further qualified that it’s being proposed by just a few of them, Rep Greene could be heard yelling "liar!" again. This time, Speaker McCarthy slowly shook his head and mouthed a subtle "shush."

Biden quipped back: "So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare, off the books now, right? All right. We got unanimity." Just like that, Social Security and Medicare were officially off the table. Republicans walked into a trap. Or, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer put it, Biden "rope-a-doped them."

While Biden talked about his efforts to stop the flow of fentanyl over the Southern border and discussed a tribute to a fentanyl victim, GOP Rep Andy Ogles yelled "It’s your fault!" This triggered another shush from Speaker McCarthy. The newly elected Speaker struggled to maintain control of his caucus from the dais. Unlike former Speaker Nancy Pelosi who would scan the House chamber and lead the responses of her members, McCarthy appeared to be led by his members, especially Rep Greene. The online reaction was swift, calling Greene "classless" and comparing her outfit to Cruella de Vil.

On Fox & Friends Wednesday morning, McCarthy spoke about the "liar" moment and said that his members "need to be smart" and not "take the bait." After being asked about McCarthy’s comments, Greene told CNN that she "didn’t take any bait," that Biden "got what exactly what he deserved," and that she isn’t sorry. This was interesting. It seemed to indicate that while Congress as a whole is certainly divided, with Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans controlling the House, so is the Republican caucus itself – if not on substance, then on style.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is the personification of the post-Trump GOP doctrine – be loud, unapologetic, extreme, and cause as much chaos as humanly possible. To these MAGA followers, attention matters more than getting things done for their constituents. Groveling to the extremes of their base trumps governing for the needs of the majority. Greene’s outburst, and Speaker McCarthy’s reaction to it, was a microcosm of the new dynamic in the House Republican majority. It embodied McCarthy’s total lack of control over the MAGA caucus he enabled.

This was just the latest stunt from Rep Greene, who earlier on Tuesday was seen walking around the Capitol building with a white balloon, in an apparent effort to mock Biden’s handling of the Chinese spy balloon. Greene clearly feels empowered. She has McCarthy to thank for that. After Greene decided to back his bid for Speaker in recent months, McCarthy struck up a close alliance with the far-right congresswoman. The New York Times reported that McCarthy said of Greene, “I will never leave that woman. I will always take care of her.”

To be clear, the current Speaker of the House said he will "always take care" of a congresswoman who has spread QAnon conspiracy theories and was among the GOP lawmakers who allegedly asked the White House for a pardon after the January 6 insurrection. This is who McCarthy has chosen to empower, and he will have to live with the consequences.

It appears that Marjorie Taylor Greene and other MAGA Republicans believe this direct appeal to the far-right will keep them in power. Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee made similar appeals to the far-right in her response to the State of the Union on Tuesday night, warning of a "left-wing culture war" where Americans are "told we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols."

President Biden and the Democrats are choosing to focus on common sense kitchen table issues, and Republicans like Greene and Huckabee Sanders are choosing to focus on culture wars. In a moment of absolute projection, Governor Huckabee Sanders also said this in her speech: "The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left. The choice is between normal or crazy."

If the midterm elections were any indication, most Americans will look at President Biden and characters like Marjorie Taylor Greene and see that this is indeed a choice between normal and outlandish – and the normal one wasn’t the QAnon congressperson holding a balloon and screaming "liar!"

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