It was a party-defining moment for Republicans. Two members from opposite ends of the ideological universe were on trial for their statements and actions while Democrats watched with growing glee over the spectacle.
In the end, Republicans had little choice but to back both of them.
If the party were to be seen by voters as caving to the demands of Democrats to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments it would have created a monstrous backlash among the party’s base. Crazy though she may be, she’s our crazy and Republicans should stand behind her, says the base.
Conversely, if the caucus had stripped Rep. Liz Cheney of her leadership position as House Republican Conference chair for her vote to impeach the president, it would have shown a certain intolerance for differing opinions — something the Democrats would have seized upon and attempted to define the GOP as the party of hate.
Most Republicans gave both Greene and Cheney a pass and dared the Democrats to make the issue of Greene’s craziness a partisan one. A floor vote will be held today to strip Greene of her positions on the Budget Committee and the Education and Labor Committee. It remains to be seen if any Republicans will side with the Democrats.
The meeting last night on Cheney was reportedly tense, with Cheney defending her vote to impeach as a “vote of conscience.” “I won’t apologize for the vote,” she told a meeting of the House Republican conference on Wednesday night.
The secret ballot vote took place after some Republicans argued that Cheney should be removed from leadership following her support for impeaching then-President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol. In the end, however, Cheney prevailed by a wide margin. The vote was 145 to keep her in her position as House Republican Conference chair, and 61 to remove her, plus one member who voted present, according to several people in the room.
The outcome leaves the House GOP leadership structure intact and averts a major upheaval within the Republican conference, after weeks of criticism and attacks aimed at Cheney, including from some of her Republican colleagues and Trump.
“Votes of conscience” make history but in these hyperpartisan times, when the other side has a “take no prisoners” attitude, party discipline is essential. Removing Cheney from her leadership position would have sent a powerful message to the party that there’s no room for “votes of conscience” when you have a knife to your throat.
Greene’s case is different. Republican rank and file are far more supportive of Greene than many establishment Republicans are comfortable with. Indeed, a poll shows that Greene is thought of more favorably than Cheney.
But Greene apparently nailed her speech to the conference committee meeting and was able to avoid disaster.
Greene told her colleagues that she made a mistake by being curious about “Q” and said she told her children she learned a lesson about what to put on social media, according to two sources in the room.
She also denied that she knew what Jewish space lasers were and defended her comments that past school shootings were staged by stating that she had personal experience with a school shooting.
She received a standing ovation from some members of the caucus at the conclusion of her remarks.
It sounds like Greene was trying to play the Trump game of giving a wink and a nudge to extremists while maintaining her innocence. Is she saying that now she doesn’t believe in QAnon? Or “Jewish space lasers”? Maybe she was just kidding all along.
The people of her Georgia district should have the final say in her future. Democrats may seek to expel her. I hope they do. Nothing would do them more damage than using their partisan majority to change the outcome of a legal and fair election.