White House Changes Course On MTG

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Jul 21, 2023 - 07:25 PM

Authored by Philip Wegmann via RealClear Wire,

Maybe President Biden and his aides didn’t want to elevate an opponent, or maybe they were saving their criticism for later, but either way, the White House has found a pitch-perfect foil in Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Biden wants the country to hear what the Georgia Republican has to say.

The Biden campaign posted a clip of Greene Tuesday from a recent conservative conference where the congresswoman blasted the president for his infrastructure and environmental spending, arguing that he “is actually finishing what FDR started, that LBJ expanded on.”

Greene replied by posting a video of her more complete remarks, which included the exact quotes that Biden enjoyed but also less flattering condemnation about the state of the country. The zealous conservative, whose office did not respond to repeated requests for comment, tweeted, “Be honest Joe.”

For a president who began his time in office by huddling with New Deal historians, her condemnation was his highest exultation. Biden once told historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in the East Room, “I’m no FDR” before trailing off midsentence. The ambition, now explicitly confirmed, is that he’d like to be.

He spends like an old-school, big-government Democrat but holds new progressive priorities, a temperament perhaps best demonstrated by the Inflation Reduction Act, a $1.9 trillion bill Biden signed into law last summer chock-full of green energy tax credits. Historians may quibble that Biden’s massive spending spree is hardly on par with transformative change on the scale of Franklin Roosevelt’s Social Security Act of 1935 or Lyndon B. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964.

That kind of debate is for the classroom, though. As a political question, Greene, better known as MTG, handed Biden exactly what he wanted: a comparison with beloved heroes. Not long ago, he and his advisers believed that even responding to comments made by the Georgia firebrand was beneath the office of the presidency.

When asked if the administration had a response to Rep. Greene in January of 2021, newly minted White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki deferred. “We don’t,” Psaki said. “And I’m not going to speak further about her, I think, in this briefing room.”

A senior Biden adviser told RealClearPolitics the president didn’t want to inadvertently boost a critic’s profile when offering a rebuttal. Two years later, though, Psaki has left the White House to join MSNBC as a pundit, and the administration now loves to publicly excoriate MTG. The adviser told RCP that they aren’t boosting Greene so much as they are addressing an emerging voice in the GOP.

Biden’s team takes her influence on the political right seriously, though. After Speaker Kevin McCarthy rewarded her for her loyalty with choice committee assignments, sources say Biden felt he had no choice but to begin responding more frequently, particularly when they could portray her as offering tacit approval for political violence.

When Greene said last December that if she led the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol, “We would have won” and “It would’ve been armed,” the White House condemned her remarks as “dangerous” and “abhorrent.” MTG insisted she had been joking, saying Biden needed “to learn how sarcasm works.”

Other times, Democrats merely see an opportunity they can’t resist. Biden plans to make the most of Greene’s LBJ and FDR comparison by traveling to Georgia to tout the agenda she rejects. His administration, meanwhile, sees in MTG a wedge to goad more centrist Republicans to their side.

“President Biden knows what his values are: he will never apologize for delivering life-changing economic opportunity to rural areas, and he will never apologize for strengthening our military and supporting military families,” said Deputy White House Press Secretary Andrew Bates.

“Unfortunately, mainstream Republicans in Congress haven’t yet found the guts to stand up to either member in a real way, even as Marjorie Taylor Greene tries to kill high-paying Bidenomics jobs coming to her district,” he added, before calling on Republicans to “find their voice: are they with the President and military families and rural economic growth, or will they keep caving to the most radical elements of their party?”

Greene, a favorite of the conservative base, has forged strong alliances within Republican leadership, particularly in the speaker’s office. McCarthy reportedly gushed to a friend that the two had become close, promising, “I’ll never leave that woman.” In the time since, MTG has gone from outspoken gadfly to the GOP’s one-woman trial balloon, leading the still-nascent charge to impeach Biden and regularly railing that the president’s son, Hunter Biden, should be drug tested.

“Should we be displaying this in committee?” Democratic Rep. Democrat Jamie Raskin protested on Wednesday in the House Oversight Committee when Greene held up several graphic photos of the president’s son taken from his infamous laptop. They showed Hunter Biden “making pornography,” she said, with prostitutes, and how he had flouted the law without consequence.

Stunts to prove a point are not out of the ordinary for Greene. At the State of the Union, it was MTG who interrupted Biden by shouting “liar.” And while some of her colleagues are more muted about their opponents across the aisle, Greene often slams Democrats as “communists.” Occasionally, she wins headlines without comment, like when she tied a white balloon to her wrist before Biden’s speech to draw attention to the Chinese spy balloon that drifted across the continent a week earlier. 

Those kinds of barbs have gotten the president’s attention. The White House has moved on from rolling their eyes at MTG’s attacks to keeping her quotes on file. In the last five months, as NBC News recently noted, Biden has gone out of his way to reference Greene by name or simply as the “gentlelady from Greene.” At a dinner hosted by the White House Correspondents Association earlier this summer, he went a step further.  “I want everybody to have fun tonight, but please be safe. If you find yourself disoriented or confused,” he joked, “it’s either you’re drunk – or Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

If the White House was hesitant before, Biden World now sees in Greene a target of opportunity, especially as the election looms and as the president touts his economic agenda across the country.

“We knew her feelings about Medicare and Social Security since the Republican Study Committee she belongs to just proposed even more cuts to earned benefits,” a senior Biden adviser explained. “Attacking us for trying to end ‘rural poverty’ was more of a surprise.”

“Then again, she has been trying to deprive her constituents of the high-paying Bidenomics jobs that just arrived,” the adviser continued. “So, I guess we should have seen that coming. Maybe next week, she’ll be coming after our insulin price cap.

“Wait, she already is,” the adviser added.