There’s nothing unusual about this kind of big tent strategy. Such an approach was central to President Biden’s campaign and to House Democrats’ winning the majority in 2018. The key distinction here is that Republicans are making room in their tent not only for differing views on policy and politics but also for alternative versions of reality.
During the rules committee’s discussion of Ms. Greene on Wednesday, Republicans are said to have expressed distress at her behavior, but also argued against rushing to judgment. “We ought to follow a process that will allow us in a deliberative way to establish the facts and discuss the implications and move from there,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, according to The Washington Post.
Deliberation is a wonderful thing. But among the pile of already established facts are videos of Ms. Greene holding forth on some of the most unhinged fictions percolating on the internet. In her social media postings, she has even endorsed the “Frazzledrip” conspiracy theory. Warning: Do not Google that one if you have a weak stomach.
In his statement, Mr. McCarthy said he had made clear to Ms. Greene that “as a member of Congress we have a responsibility to hold ourselves to a higher standard than how she presented herself as a private citizen.” In a speech on the House floor Thursday, before the vote on the resolution, she acknowledged that the Sept. 11 attacks “absolutely happened” and that “school shootings are absolutely real” and insisted that she had walked away from QAnon — even as she charged that the media “is just as guilty as QAnon of presenting truth and lies.” Going forward, it will be interesting to see if the congresswoman expresses public contrition for the harm she has caused, or at the very least stops fund-raising off the controversy.
Some Senate Republicans have made their concerns public, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Monday, he cautioned that “looney lies and conspiracy theories” are a “cancer for the Republican Party.” Without naming names, he noted, “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged and that the Clintons crashed J.F.K. Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality.”
Or as Senator Thomas Tillis, the North Carolina Republican, tweeted: “It’s not conservative, it’s insane.”
Like Mr. McConnell, Mr. McCarthy is a political creature. He has few, if any, discernible values beyond his own ambitions. Unlike Mr. McConnell, Mr. McCarthy is weak and worries too much about being liked. He has neither the vision nor the stomach to play the long game.