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The surprising role Marjorie Taylor Greene is playing for Kevin McCarthy
There’s a terrific piece in the New York Times today that dives deep on the warm relationship between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and one-time rabble rouser Marjorie Taylor Greene.
You should read the whole thing but there’s one paragraph that really stood out to me. It’s this one:
Ms. Greene, in turn, has taken on an outsize role as a policy adviser to Mr. McCarthy, who has little in the way of a fixed ideology of his own and has come to regard the Georgia congresswoman as a vital proxy for the desires and demands of the right-wing base that increasingly drives his party. He has adopted her stances on opposing vaccine mandates and questioning funding for the war in Ukraine, and even her call to reinvestigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol to show what she has called “the other side of the story.”
Uh, what? That seems like a pretty big deal, no?
And then there’s this quote from MTG about the McCarthy agenda: “If he sticks to it, will easily vindicate me and prove I moved the conference to the right during my first two years when I served in the minority with no committees.”
A few things are absolutely true here.
McCarthy is, like many people who ascend to top leadership jobs, almost entirely without a built-in political agenda of his own. What McCarthy believes in is what can be passed through his very-narrow House majority. He lacks any real ideology beyond winning. His entire time in Congress has been defined by a search for political victories, not policy ones. In that way, he has much in common with Donald Trump; the Washington Post once described their relationship as “light on policy nitty-gritty but heavy on back-slapping, deal-making and personal rapport.” Yup.
MTG has a WHOLE lot of policy ideas — many of them deeply controversial. A stroll through her Twitter feed from just the last few days include claims about the alleged side effects from taking the Covid-19 vaccine, questioning the continued financing of Ukraine’s defense against Russia and attacks from Antifa.
I wonder whether — prior to this Times article being published — the other members of McCarthy’s leadership team in Congress knew that MTG was serving as the de facto policy adviser to the Speaker of the House. And I wonder how that knowledge sits with them.
As I have written, there’s no question that Greene has made a conscious choice to make herself more relevant in her 2nd term than in her first. (It would be hard for her to be less relevant than in her first term, in which she served on zero committees and mostly played the role of nuisance.)
And, it’s no secret that McCarthy has welcomed MTG into his fold as a way to make nice with the House Freedom Caucus with whom he has had his differences.
But there’s a big difference between playing nice with MTG to accomplish a political end — being elected Speaker — and using her as a policy adviser. That suggests a level of influence for Greene that we haven’t seen before.
Stick a pin in that NY Times story. It’s an important one.