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Members of GOP's 'Taliban 19' face intraparty pushback

As the new GOP House majority begins, some members are fighting over whether or not they should be compared to the Taliban.


Whenever Democratic officials compare Republican tactics to terrorism, GOP officials tend to be displeased. That’s understandable: It’s clearly one of the harshest of all possible political criticisms.

But what about when Republicans compare themselves to terrorists?

In 2009, for example, shortly after Barack Obama’s first presidential inauguration, Republican Rep. Pete Sessions told National Journal that if congressional Democrats didn’t allow Republicans an influential role in policy debates, the GOP would consider emulating the “insurgency” tactics of the Taliban.

The Texas congressman — at the time, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee — went on to say, “We need to understand that insurgency may be required,” and that if Democrats resisted, Republicans would “become an insurgency.”

Sessions wasn’t alone. Former House Speaker John Boehner also referred to some of his own GOP members as “legislative terrorists.”

The rhetoric came to mind again last night, as another Republican lawmaker referenced a new and related label. Politico reported:

Former Speaker John Boehner once dubbed certain members of the House Freedom Caucus “legislative terrorists.” After Tuesday’s spectacle on the House floor, some GOP members are taking it a step further. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) says he’s heard colleagues privately tag the 19 Republicans who repeatedly voted against Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for speaker the “Taliban 19.”

Remember, this isn’t Democrats comparing Republicans to the Taliban; it’s Republicans making the comparison about their own intraparty colleagues.

The Nebraskan also spoke to Fox News about the “Taliban 19,” adding that among his GOP colleagues, “there’s anger out there right now.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a leading figure in the anti-McCarthy contingent, heard about the rhetoric and dismissed the Taliban comparison as “hurtful and false.”

But in the next breath, the Florida Republican added, “I too am prepared for an extended battle that I will ultimately win.”

The new GOP majority in the House is off to a great start, isn’t it? Republicans can’t choose a leader, can’t advance their agenda, and are currently fighting over whether or not they should be compared to the Taliban.