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Republicans should be worried about what Marjorie Taylor Greene will say next

  • Democrats forced a vote to kick conspiracist Marjorie Taylor Greene off House committees.
  • She says that’s fine: Who likes meetings? Now she has more free time to talk to the public.
  • Most Republicans voted to keep her on committees, and will have to defend crazy things she says.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene isn’t exactly happy that she’s been tossed off the Education and Budget committees, but she does see an upside.

“I’m fine with being kicked off my committees because it would be a waste of time,” she said at a press conference Friday. “You know who I am? I’m a hard worker and I’m proud of it. Now I have free time on my hands, which means I can talk to a whole lot more people around this country.”

This is a statement that should make her Republican colleagues who represent competitive districts and voted to leave her on the committees nervous.

Can’t live with the crazies, can’t live without them

Democrats’ move to force the whole House to vote on whether Greene should be allowed to serve on committees — remember, she has espoused QAnon and 9/11 truther conspiracy theories and, in one instance, liked a social media post that advocated a “bullet to the head” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — put Republicans in a tough spot.

On one hand, vote to leave her on the committees, and you might face attack ads demanding to know why you chose to give this malevolent nutcase a hand in deciding how our children are educated. This is particularly significant because for someone who’s only been a backbench congresswoman for a month, Greene is already remarkably well-known to voters. A majority of respondents claim to have an opinion about her in recent national surveys, usually a negative opinion.

On the other hand, Greene is a favorite of former President Donald Trump, because she fiercely defends him, and Greene has threatened to seek revenge on Republicans who voted to strip her of her assignments. And frankly, conspiracy nuts are a key part of the coalition that Republicans rely on to win elections these days.

Republicans also, understandably, bristled at Democrats’ interference in decisions about which Republicans could sit on which congressional committees. As many Republican House members accurately pointed out in statements, it is customary practice that each party’s leadership decides who from that party will sit on what committees. Removing Greene by a vote of the full House sets a new precedent, and possibly not a great one, as future majorities may make choices about who from the minority is worthy of a committee seat.

Fair enough. But there’s an obvious follow-up question: Where was Republican leadership here, and why didn’t they lead? Well, the problem is personnel.

I personally would try to put it delicately, by saying that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy lacks resolve and is terrified of interpersonal conflict. Trump has been more pithy, reportedly calling him a “p—y.”

The first mistake was letting her get elected to Congress

When Greene ran for an open House seat in north Georgia in 2020, she had a viable opponent: neurosurgeon John Cowan, basically a standard-issue conservative. So why didn’t House Republicans intervene to help him beat her?

Senate Republicans already box out distasteful candidates from becoming the party’s nominees. Allies of Mitch McConnell worked to ensure that Kelli Ward, who flirted with chemtrail conspiracy theories, didn’t become their nominee for senate in Arizona in 2016 or 2018. (Ward, of course, has found other ways to help ensure Republicans lose elections in Arizona.)

But House Republican leaders sat on their hands in Greene’s race. Axios suggests McCarthy was reluctant to pick a fight with conservatives from the Freedom Caucus.

Without intervention, she became the nominee and sure winner in a heavily Republican district. Foreseeably, her noxious and unpopular rants became a major political headache for the GOP conference.

Kevin McCarthy still lacks resolve and is still terrified of interpersonal conflict

More recently, McCarthy could have protected his members from having to vote on Greene’s committee memberships by acting himself to strip her of them. Republican leaders previously made this move as part of an effort to oust white nationalist Rep. Steve King.

But that would have required McCarthy to lead, and to stand up to objections from certain members of his party. He would have had to navigate interpersonal conflict and make some people upset. Faced with a choice between protecting his members and protecting himself, McCarthy did what he usually does: curled into the fetal position and tried not to get hit.

Now the big problem for House Republicans isn’t just that they can be directly attacked over what Greene said in the past — with the committee assignment vote giving Democrats a hook to explain to voters around the country why things this woman from Georgia said have anything to do with their congressperson — but that they can be attacked over whatever she says in the future.

As Greene says, she has free time in her hands, and she can talk to a whole lot more people around this country. Look for whatever she says to show up in television ads from Democrats.

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