Updated: Oct 30
And Then There Are The GOP Cowards
If you think all Republicans are fascists, you're missing some important distinctions. The Freedom Caucus is much further right than the GOP as a whole although they have increasingly set the policy agenda for the whole congressional conference. And now, it turns out that there's a potential split between 2 factions of the Freedom Caucus-- like the hard core Nazis (the Gang Greene) and... the soft core Nazis (more careerist in nature than terrorist and nihilist)? Anyway, Olivia Beavers and Melanie Zanona took a walk on the wild side for Politico before dawn yesterday.
"A group of House ultra-conservatives who rose to power by making life hell for GOP leaders," they wrote, "is now facing cracks in its once-united front-- which some worry could foreshadow an even wider rift if Republicans win back the majority next year. A notable split has emerged inside the House Freedom Caucus in recent weeks over its members' use of delaying tactics on the floor to protest Democratic policies. That effort has grabbed attention and ruffled leadership, two hallmarks of the Freedom Caucus, but it's also snarled legislative proceedings enough to breed frustration among some members of the far-right crew. Some in the caucus criticize the legislative slowdown, led by Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and several others, as a failure to act strategically. Conservatives should challenge a select few bills rather than a wide swath, these Republicans argue, to avoid diluting the potency of moments when they choose to tie the House in procedural knots. Internal critics also warn that their fellow Freedom Caucus members' antics could backfire if Democrats respond by starting to block the GOP from using an expedited process to advance its own non-controversial bills. But other Freedom Caucus members feel strongly that wreaking havoc on the floor is part of their brand and they need to deploy every procedural weapon at their disposal. After all, regardless of how they feel about the current floor strategy, House conservatives share a frustration with the way Democrats are running the chamber-- and using their limited power to force recorded votes is one of the only real ways they can vent that energy."
There are about 40 of them who favor a no-holds-barred strategy for total disruption on every level. Some others just argue they should use the strategy more selectively to accomplish specific goals. For the uneducated members, like Lauren Boebert and Madison Cawthorn, "selectively" is a little on the abstract side for them to handle smoothly.
The Freedom Caucus' recent schisms aren’t limited to procedural ploys: The group was not in lockstep over challenging certification of President Joe Biden’s victory, with Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Ken Buck (R-CO) emerging as some of the effort's most vocal GOP critics. The group also wasn’t aligned when it came to endorsing controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) last summer. Greene ultimately got invited to join the group despite some initial apprehension from some members, according to several GOP sources.
Even the group’s co-founder and most high-profile member, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), has noticeably steered clear of recent public antics by members. Jordan stayed silent when a cohort of Freedom Caucus members opposed a bill honoring the Capitol Police for protecting the building during the riot and when other members accused two Asian American lawmakers of being “racist” for demanding more representation in Biden’s Cabinet.
...Initially formed as a hard-right irritant to GOP leadership, the Freedom Caucus later became a club for Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters. In the post-Trump era, the group will face its own questions about its broader direction, especially as it gears up to elect a new leader this fall. Biggs will be term-limited by the end of this year and is also considering an Arizona Senate bid.
“There’s some real concern among the Freedom Caucus that it lacks a long-term vision,” said a senior GOP aide with knowledge of the caucus politics. “There doesn’t seem to be an organized legislative plan or agenda-- only sporadic press conferences and news releases. It could be argued that this … has divided the caucus more than ever before.”
McCarthy has worked hard to make inroads with the Freedom Caucus, who once blocked his bid for the speakership. If Republicans seize back the House and McCarthy continues to lead the GOP, it’s unclear what the Freedom Caucus’s role-- and relevance-- will be inside the bigger conference.
Some foresee a potential schism in which Freedom Caucus rebels, such as Biggs and Greene, continue to throw bombs in an effort to torment leaders. Biggs recently clashed with McCarthy behind closed doors over his procedural gambits, suggesting the Arizona Republican has little interest in following leadership’s direction.
...McCarthy also sought to defend Greene, a newly anointed Freedom Caucus member, when Democrats kicked her off her committees earlier this year. But even though the Freedom Caucus’ political arm recruited Greene to run in her district, some in the group initially blanched at endorsing her candidacy, according to multiple sources. Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), a Freedom Caucus member and former pastor, even withdrew his endorsement of Greene after Politico uncovered a string of racist Facebook videos she made last summer.
While there was initially some concern about her joining the group, lawmakers say that dissipated when Greene apologized to the conference behind closed-doors for her inflammatory rhetoric. Despite her divisive past behavior, she has now become one of the faces of the caucus’ delay tactics, jumping at the chance to force repeated motions to adjourn and blasting her Republican colleagues who have opposed the effort.
“She caused some initial consternation amongst members, but they have since reconciled with Marjorie because of her heartfelt apologies,” said the second Freedom Caucus member.
That all said, Paul Krugman wrote in his column Cowards, Not Crazies, Are Destroying America Thursday that "When we talk about the GOP’s moral descent, we tend to focus on the obvious extremists, like the conspiracy theorists who claim that climate change is a hoax and Jan. 6 was a false flag operation. But the crazies wouldn’t be driving the Republican agenda so completely if it weren’t for the cowards, Republicans who clearly know better but reliably swallow their misgivings and go along with the party line. And at this point crazies and cowards essentially make up the party’s entire elected wing."
[E]ven supposed “moderates” like Susan Collins accepted claims that the Trump tax cut would reduce, not increase, the budget deficit. (It increased the deficit.)
Or consider climate change. As recently as 2008 John McCain campaigned for president in part on a proposal to put a cap on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. But at this point Republicans in Congress are united in their opposition to any substantive action to limit global warming, with 30 G.O.P. senators outright denying the overwhelming scientific evidence that human activities are causing climate change.
The falsehoods that are poisoning America’s politics tend to share similar life histories. They begin in cynicism, spread through disinformation and culminate in capitulation, as Republicans who know the truth decide to acquiesce in lies.
...I’m not sure exactly why cowardice has become the norm among elected Republicans who aren’t dedicated extremists. But if you want to understand how the GOP became such a threat to everything America should stand for, the cowards are at least as important a factor as the crazies.
This morning, Punch Bowl News looked at how dissimilar the Congressional Progressive Caucus is from the House Freedom Caucus. "Jayapal's CPC," they wrote "wants to pass legislation, not overthrow their own leadership. The Freedom Caucus knocked off one GOP speaker, prevented the rise of his successor and made life hell for Ryan. The CPC is much bigger than the HFC ever was-- nearly five times as big-- thus it’s harder to hold the progressives together. Jayapal and the CPC are, in some ways, more effective than the HFC because they stick to one goal at a time. The Freedom Caucus was all over the place. They had shifting goals and demands that were difficult to keep up with or even figure out at times. The Freedom Caucus also gained Trump's ear, because it helped him further undermine the GOP establishment in Washington. Progressives are good with Biden, but that relationship is vastly different. Biden is the Democratic establishment, and he has been for decades-- from powerful committee chair to presidential hopeful several times to, finally, commander in chief. The CPC is completely led by Jayapal. At the apex of its power, the HFC was led by Mark Meadows and Gym Jordan, close allies who mostly shared the same goals. And we underline mostly. Some have questioned Jayapal's strategy-- and that’s fair enough. But if you’re a progressive, the simple question is how can you trust that Manchin and Sinema are going to have your back? If you hold back one of the legislative goals they want-- infrastructure-- it’s a good insurance policy to make sure you get what you need on reconciliation. Jayapal and progressives have also been smart in that they continually wrap themselves in the pro-Biden mantle. They’re taking this hardline approach on the infrastructure bill-- repeatedly defying their own leadership-- in order to help Biden."
Meanwhile, one of the No Labels puppets, corrupt sack of shit, Stephanie Murphy, a Blue Dog co-chair who is thankfully being gerrymandered out of her Orlando area seat by the Republican legislature, whined cluelessly to journalists that the reason the CPC isn't supporting the crappy conservative infrastructure bill "is a political reason, a reason that only resonates within the Beltway. But it does not resonate with my constituents or their constituents. They have to own their righteousness. Trade it for clean water, safe bridges, a decent commute, public transportation that works for people who can’t afford cars." Congress will be better off without her.