MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei agreed that Republican Party had reached a "new level of insanity" by threatening and intimidating lawmakers who had voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) may strip committee assignments from 13 Republicans who voted for the legislation, but seems unlikely to do anything about Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) for directing threats to her colleagues' phone numbers in a tweet or Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) for fantasizing about killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in a tweeted video.
"It' very disturbing," Scarborough said. "This is a critical moment. First of all, an idiotic tweet saying that something was a communist takeover, an infrastructure bill that is bipartisan, that Mitch McConnell is running around bragging about and other Republicans are running around bragging about. That's communist? It's crazy. You know, in the wide world of news this morning, interesting -- well, not interesting, very just a challenging part of it -- there is a madness and peril here beyond the normal freak show that American politics has become."
"It's one thing for [Donald] Trump and other critics of the bill to lie about what is in that measure, lies every bit as false as the ones about the 2020 election being stolen," he added. "It is another thing, in some ways just as pernicious, for Republicans to say it was wrong to vote the way the 13 did because it gave President [Joe] Biden a political win. Can you imagine going on the national town square, as Republicans and leaders in red America have done, saying, in effect, that members of Congress should always vote against what they believe to be in the interest of their constituents and the nation just to deny a president a win? My God, it's staggering."
VandeHei, who heads Axios and co-founded Politico, said the loyalty tests he's seeing in the House were different from normal political behavior he's observed over decades on Capitol Hill.
"To understand how insane and nutty this is, you have to sort of look at Congress over the last 20 years," VandeHei said. "Yes, people used to demand party loyalty. If someone is routinely not on the team, there could be punishment, people have been kicked off committees before. This is absurd, right? You're talking about a bill that passed the Senate with Republicans, as you said, that Mitch McConnell supports, that, by the way, even Republican members in the House, their people are going to benefit from it, right? A lot of the money is spread out, goes to rural America, goes to broadband, does other things. To do this after they did what they did to Liz Cheney is something we haven't seen before. The idea that it is thought police. You either have to be with us or get the hell out of the party. That's weird and, by the way, it's dangerous."
"There's this notion now, this war-like dimension of politics, particularly among Republicans in the House, those that are aligned with Trump," he added. "This us against them that permeates everything. We've always had us versus them, but this idea that instantly you should be rejected or threatened, threatened you because you voted for a bill that will move money to your constituents, it is a new level of insanity."
11 10 2021 06 16 42 www.youtube.com