Republican House Reckoning – WSJ



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Minorities in the House of Representatives are rarely relevant, but the current GOP minority is only a few seats away from regaining control. That makes its Wednesday deliberations on two of its MPs an important message about the party’s potential return to power.

A few dozen backbenchers want to remove Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney from the House leadership for voting to impeach Donald Trump. Other MPs are worried about the public notoriety of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgian recruit with wacky views. If the House GOP punishes Ms. Cheney by not saying anything about Ms. Greene, he will deserve more time in the wild.

Ms. Cheney’s impeachment decision was a vote of conscience, as GOP leaders said at the time. She joined nine others in voting to impeach Mr. Trump after an attack on Capitol Hill that followed weeks of false election claims by the White House. Some Republicans say Ms. Cheney has special obligations to mirror the GOP conference as a leader, but GOP leaders did not whip the vote and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy offered little advice.

Ms. Cheney should be credited with having dared to be alone despite the political risks. Trumpians vow to defeat her in a primary in 2022, and Representative Matt Gaetz, a Trump sidekick, attended a rally in Cheyenne last week to spark opposition. Donald Trump Jr. called the rally to promote a main challenge for her in 2022.

If bowing to all things Trump is the litmus test for being a loyal Republican, the party would have to get used to continued losses in the suburbs. Mr McCarthy should defend his colleague’s vote on principle, even if he disagreed with him, rather than live in fear of Mar-a-Lago’s anger.

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As for Ms Greene, Democrats are trying to make her the face of the GOP after stories have emerged that she is steeped in internet disinformation. Last week’s news was a 2018 Facebook post in which she speculated that the California wildfires were really started by a space laser. One way or another, the Rothschilds were involved.

She promoted QAnon absurdity and called Mr. Trump the right leader to defeat “this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles.” She said there was no evidence that a plane struck the Pentagon on September 11 and suggested the 2018 Parkland School shooting in Florida was a false flag event.

Ms Greene won sort of a crowded primary, and then a second round, in her heavily GOP district. But it is not clear to what extent many Georgians listened to his wildest views. John Cowan, the Republican she defeated, recently said voters wanted a flamethrower. Now he added, “A lot of people call me and say, ‘Wow, we didn’t know she was really going to be like this! “Mr. Cowan could have used more help from the rest of the party.

But Ms. Greene won, and she deserves to be judged on how she behaves in the office. Democrats also have their share of cranks in the ranks. “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah wake people up and help them see Israel’s evil deeds,” Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar once wrote. After being elected, she explained her take on why Congress supports Israel: “It’s all about the baby Benjamins.”

California Representative Maxine Waters urged people to harass Trump administration officials at restaurants or gas stations, and she now heads the financial services committee. The point is that ousting a congressman has generally been left to the voters, with the exception of criminal behavior.

The House GOP could deny Ms Greene’s committee assignments, as it did with former Iowa Rep. Steve King in 2019. But Mr King had spent years in Congress making harmful statements tinged with race. Voters in Iowa beat him in a primary. Ms. Greene has only been in the House for a month. Perhaps Mr. McCarthy’s best option at the moment would be to warn her of future comments and behavior, and if she crosses a line, then he can deprive her of committee seats. Voters in his district will have another chance in 2022, and Republicans in Georgia could also reconfigure his district based on the 2020 census.

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Congress has had a lot of quirks over the decades, but in the age of social media the opposition will try to turn the words of one MP against the whole party. That’s the GOP’s Marjorie Taylor Greene problem. Today, Congress also has many MPs like Mr. Gaetz, who view the House as a platform for their personal political brand rather than a place to legislate.

The main goal of the House minority is to become the majority, and in 2022 Republicans should have excellent luck. But they’ll waste it if they purge serious members like Liz Cheney and let themselves be defined by conspiracy theorists and Parkland truths.

Newspaper editorial report: Democrats insist, despite little chance of conviction. Image: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

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