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OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Was it the right thing?

by John Brummett | February 7, 2021 at 8:39 a.m.

Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was hitting email in-boxes with an urgent fundraising solicitation Thursday afternoon.

The mailing decried what the House Democrats wouldn't get around to doing to her for another couple of hours.

She couldn't let a good looming expulsion from committee assignments go to waste.

"They" were coming for her, she warned in the mailing. She named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, "The Squad" and "fake news" as the leading culprits.

She said they couldn't abide her proud and brave alliance with the heroic Donald Trump, with whom she was pictured.

She said these sinister liberal forces had to try to stop her because, among other things, she had filed articles of impeachment against Joe Biden ... for something.

She wrote -- or someone wrote in her behalf -- that the "Silicon Valley Cartel" was trying to silence her, which was why she desperately needed funding to fight back.

Just send $10 or whatever you can afford, and do it by midnight, pleaded this woman who had been a QAnon advocate.

QAnon is an online-based right-wing conspiracy theory in which a mysterious figure called Q, presumably highly placed, warns in supposedly coded Internet posts of evil liberal deep-staters who are pedophiles and blood-drinkers and have lied to us about everything.

Over the years prior to her election to Congress, Greene had said school shootings didn't happen; that the Clintons murdered John F. Kennedy Jr.; that 9/11 didn't seem to have happened, at least as described at the Pentagon; and that sinister wealthy corporate forces were starting California forest fires with lasers from outer space.

She had once checked "like" on a social media post about killing Nancy Pelosi.

The fundraising solicitation was sadly typical modern boilerplate. It fed cynical partisan resentment and fear for the purpose of manipulation.

It showed up in my email box apparently because Greene was using with permission a Trump campaign mailing list that I'd somehow been on in the campaign.

The mailing arrived after Greene had said on the House floor that she regretted that she'd said things she now knows were untrue. But the mailing didn't mention that.

She didn't apologize, and, clearly, she won't.

House Democrats had managed to make her a martyr standing before MAGA grandstands filled with the conspiratorial, gullible and mind-misplaced.

So, there arises one burning question about the political effect of this vote. It is whether making Greene a national celebrity is good or bad for Republicans and good or bad for Democrats.

My instinct is that Democrats would have been better off ignoring her to the extent possible. That would have left to Republicans any issues arising from her seeming craziness.

Democrats could have focused on attempting to govern moderately, sensibly and effectively. I simply can't help thinking that narrow pursuit of good government might be an effective political ploy.

Greene's expulsion will be perceived along polarized divides. Conservatives will be stirred to vote in low-turnout midterms against Democrats who will stand accused of opposing free speech and disenfranchising rural northern Georgians, leaving them effectively without any representation by the congresswoman they duly elected.

But there is a worthy competing view. It is that Democrats win by making this woman a star and releasing her to rampage into the national consciousness. It's that she will emerge as either a destructively potent element of contemporary Republicanism, or evidence of dysfunctional divisiveness within the GOP, or even as the very face of a party gone insane.

By this theory, House Republicans will suffer by alliance in the midterms with a woman even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decries as unfit and dangerous.

At the very least, Republicans are in deep disarray, and the disciplining of this woman represents a Democratic effort to stoke.

But sometimes the right thing to do is simply unclear. And that's the case when a wild woman advancing hatred and dishonesty manages to win a white rural Southern GOP congressional nomination that is tantamount to election because today's Democrats no longer even try to connect with those kinds of districts.

Is it the right thing for the Democrats to try to get better in a hurry in such alien environments in an effort to take her out conventionally in the next election?

Or is it to ignore her to avoid the risk of making a conservative heroine of her?

Or is it to say that enough is enough when people sharing her outrageous views have recently committed actual insurrection inside our U.S. Capitol, making it imperative that she not be normalized?

I still would have preferred to ignore her and not make a national force of her.

But it's too late for that now. House Democrats made their decision that enough was enough.

All we know for sure so far is that Greene desperately needed money by midnight Thursday.

--–––––v–––––--

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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