There was some unpleasantness among House Republicans last week, as two first-year GOP House members — Georgia's Marjorie Taylor Greene and South Carolina's Nancy Mace —feuded in ways that turned quite ugly. It wasn't long before other Republicans started taking sides, rallying behind their preferred colleague.
For GOP officials such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, this was a disaster. The California Republican didn't seem concerned about the underlying causes behind the divisions; he simply wanted to show the public a united partisan front. The intra-party feud was a counter-productive distraction.
The House GOP leader delivered a direct plea to his members: Stop criticizing each other in public.
It's against this backdrop that The Washington Post reported:
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) called out members of the House's conservative Freedom Caucus, decrying them as "grifters" and "performance artists" who failed to support much of President Donald Trump's agenda when he was in office and Republicans controlled Congress.
At an event in Houston alongside Republican congressional candidates, the Texas congressman said the conservative movement has "grifters in our midst, not here, not in this room. I mean in the conservative movement."
Crenshaw went on to lament the conservatives who tell "lie after lie after lie," and while he didn't identify any specific individuals, the Republican told attendees his comments were directed at "everybody in the Freedom Caucus — all of them."
A video of the congressman's public comments was shared online yesterday by lawyer Ron Filipkowski.
Stepping back, I think there are three angles to this that are worth keeping in mind. First, given the kind of radicalism the public has seen from House Freedom Caucus members, it's tough to disagree with Crenshaw.
Second, let no one describe the Texan as some kind of moderate in Republican politics. Crenshaw is a conservative who voted with Donald Trump nearly 90 percent of the time, and who votes with the Biden White House's position roughly 14 percent of the time. A centrist he isn't.
But what we occasionally witness in GOP politics is a subtle division between Republicans like Crenshaw and Wyoming's Liz Cheney, both of whom have very conservative voting records and hardline ideologies, and those they consider conspiratorial crackpots.
All of which leads to the third point: McCarthy hates all of this. The minority leader's only goal of late is to keep his members unified, and it's not working. Indeed, if recent history is any guide, Freedom Caucus members will push back against Crenshaw today, sparking a new round of GOP recriminations.