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With Holocaust rhetoric, Greene creates new test for McCarthy

The question isn't whether Greene will keep engaging in ridiculous antics; the question is what Kevin McCarthy is prepared to do about it.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene Holds Capitol Hill News Conference
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., pauses while speaking during a news conference outside the Capitol on Feb. 5, 2021.Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images

There's no point in questioning whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) will keep engaging in ridiculous antics. The latest controversy surrounding the unhinged congresswoman is simply the latest in a lengthy series. The better question is what House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) intends to do about it.

In an appearance last week on the podcast "The Water Cooler with David Brody," Greene lamented to a nodding Brody about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to maintain a mask mandate on the House floor because of concerns many GOP members may not be vaccinated. "This woman is mentally ill," Greene said of Pelosi, D-Calif. "You know, we can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens — so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany, and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about."

As more of the public learned of the Georgia Republican's comments, and Greene was pressed for an explanation, she doubled down. "I stand by all of my statements.... I said nothing wrong," Greene told reporters. She added, "I think any rational Jewish person didn't like what happened in Nazi Germany, and any rational Jewish person doesn't like what's happening with overbearing mask mandates and overbearing vaccine policies."

Evidently, in the right-wing congresswoman's mind, Jews who dare to disagree with her nonsense fail to meet her standard for rationality.

A handful of Greene's GOP colleagues in the House have publicly condemned her comments. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), for example, blasted Greene's comparison as "evil lunacy." Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) added that the Georgian's rhetoric amounted to "absolute sickness." Not surprisingly, many Democrats have been just as forceful in their denunciations.

But as of this morning, Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP leadership have said nothing.

It's certainly possible that, later this morning, the House minority leader and his team will announce they've had enough of Greene's outrageous antics. Maybe, by day's end, McCarthy will have let the first-year congresswoman know she's gone too far and she is no longer a member of the House Republican conference in good standing.

But there's no reason to think this will happen -- and there are plenty of reasons to believe McCarthy will simply shrug his shoulders and wait for the next Greene outrage, at which point he'll shrug his shoulders again.

Remember, it was just a few months ago when the political world was confronted with revelations that Greene, among other things, expressed support for violence targeting U.S. elected officials. When Democrats pushed for the most obvious of consequences -- stripping the congresswoman of her committee assignments -- 94% of House Republicans balked, including every member of the GOP leadership team.

Recent history suggests McCarthy knows how to deal with situations like these. Indeed, it was just two years ago when the House minority leader expressed disgust with then-Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) after the right-wing Iowan's rhetoric about white supremacy. McCarthy stripped King of his committee assignments, rendered him irrelevant, and watched the Iowan's career evaporate soon after.

The identical approach isn't available anymore, since Greene has already lost her committee assignments -- a step McCarthy and the vast majority of House Republicans tried to prevent -- but the House GOP leadership has other options. McCarthy could, for example, publicly condemn Greene and her antics. He could recruit and endorse a primary rival. He could announce that she will not have the party's support during her re-election bid.

He could even call for her expulsion.

In other words, McCarthy is facing a leadership test. A member of his conference, who's already established a record of dangerous rhetoric, is equating common-sense public-health measures during a pandemic with the Nazi Holocaust. If the House minority leader believes his party is above such garbage, now is the time for him to prove it.