If you hear the steady chop of a pickaxe ringing in your ears, it's the sound of Senate Republicans frantically trying to pry themselves loose from the House GOP's floating ice raft to nowhere. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell set tone for his caucus Tuesday when he pointedly said the "loony lies and conspiracy theories" of someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene were a "cancer for the Republican Party and our country."
McConnell didn't mention Greene by name. He didn't have to since she has become the poster-child for the House GOP's descent into dangerous and abhorrent quackery. But the notion of Republicans in the upper chamber bothering to stick their nose into the affairs of their GOP counterparts in the lower chamber reveals just what an existential threat Greene's presence is to the party's electoral future. Sure, there's a bunch of House Republicans tucked away in districts where Greene's radical brand of politics is all the rage, so to speak.
But any Senate Republicans trying to win contests in critical swingy states in 2022 would be doomed by a wholesale defection of suburban voters, who have continually moved further away from the Republican Party over the past two cycles. And it just so happens that the battle over control of the Senate in 2022 will be waged in the swingiest of states, including Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (with Ohio and Iowa getting honorable mentions).
Thus the chorus of Senate Republicans who echoed McConnell's denunciation of Greene's politics and the path she's forging to wholesale destruction of the party.
"It's beyond reprehensible for any elected official, especially a member of Congress, to parrot violent QAnon rhetoric and promote deranged conspiracies like the Pentagon wasn't really hit by a plane on 9/11," Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina tweeted Wednesday afternoon, after it became perfectly clear that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was sticking with Greene. "It’s not conservative, it’s insane."
The Washington Post also had a rundown of the Senate GOP's angst. Sen. Todd Young of Indiana called Greene "an embarrassment to our party," and in a bit of wishful thinking, adding, “In terms of the divisions within our party, she’s not even part of the conversation, as far as I’m concerned.”
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said, “Our big tent is not large enough to both accommodate conservatives and kooks.”
And Sen. John Thune of South Dakota framed the House GOP's dilemma as a simple choice: “Do they want to be the party of limited government . . . or do they want to be the party of conspiracy theories and QAnon?”
That choice had very clearly been made by the end of Wednesday. McCarthy didn't have the guts to save his caucus from taking a vote on stripping Greene of her committee assignments forced by House Democrats. Instead, he issued a five-paragraph explanation of his cowardice that devoted three paragraphs to attacking Democrats.
In his meeting with caucus members late Wednesday, McCarthy reportedly devoted a lot of time to explaining why he wouldn't be ousting Greene from her committees and much less time to helping Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming retain her leadership post. Both Cheney and Greene spoke, but Greene received an extra special embrace—a standing ovation from roughly half the caucus, according to Vice News reporter Cameron Joseph.
Apparently, Greene’s apology for putting her colleagues in a tough spot was good enough to forgive her past sins, such as denying that people—including kids—actually died during mass shootings in Parkland and Newtown.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's predictions on Tuesday proved correct when she characterized the House GOP Leader as "Qevin McCarthy, Q-CA."
"When Mitch McConnell—who lives by Pres. Reagan’s rule on never speaking ill of another Republican—warns of a 'cancer' in the ranks," Pelosi tweeted, "Qevin McCarthy, Q-CA, would do well to heed the advice of another U.S. President, Pres. Kennedy, on the dangers of embracing extremism."
McCarthy has now officially planted his flag as leader the Q-caucus. McConnell and his Senate Republicans are on their own.