For years now, the most powerful American political attribute—one that ultimately became a superpower for some of our putative leaders—has been shamelessness. If you never admit you were wrong or you lied or you said something completely beyond the pale, you'll never face consequences—at least if you've got a base of support that exclusively receives information from a friendly media ecosystem that is unlikely to make too big a deal out of it. In fact, they might even frame it as Another Attack By Woke Leftist Culture Warriors Who Want to Destroy Free Speech and, Dare I Say It, the America You Know and Love. Suddenly, your indiscretion, or at least the ensuing pitched battle over it, becomes an act of defiance against the various enemies. It becomes a testament to your strength as a warrior for the cause. Through your brazen stubbornness, your disgusting behaviour becomes a virtue in the eyes of the people whose support you depend on.
The ur-example of this phenomenon is, of course, Donald J. Trump. But there were also his various hangers-on and others who mortgaged their dignity for the privilege of serving him until it came time to go under the bus. And there are also, now, his spiritual acolytes. Chief among these is Marjorie Taylor Greene, the congresswoman representing Georgia's 14th district in the United States Congress, and a person who has readily identified the awesome power of shamelessness in today's politics and the polarised informational ecosystems that help to prop it all up. Greene has raised astronomical amounts of money in part thanks to her refusal to ever admit error on anything ever. Until now. On Monday Marjorie Taylor Greene finally, it seems, crashed into the ceiling of shamelessness in right-wing politics—a particular arena I'd long since assumed was fully open-air.
It's always a good sign when you have to open up with, "I always want to remind everyone that I'm very much a normal person." The first thing that comes to mind here is the question of what, exactly, Marjorie Taylor Greene thought the Holocaust was before visiting the museum, or how it was ever in any way comparable to having to wear a mask. Still, I guess we should be thankful for, if not the apology itself, the fact that there was something one of these professional outrage merchants could say for which they might feel compelled to apologise. Even if it came down to pressure from Republican leaders in Congress, that seems like a statement that some of the laws of political gravity still apply.
Maybe. After all, Greene still refused to back down from her contention that the Democratic Party is somehow comparable to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. (That's just good politics, considering how common it has become in conservative circles to suggest the Nazis were left-wing because they had the word "Socialist" in the party name.) There's also that whole thing with the Jewish Space Laser, which leaves Greene's newfound awareness of the horrors of anti-Semitism ringing just a little bit hollow. And then there was what came even in the statement of contrition. Greene mentioned her father recently passed away, and we can offer our condolences on that. But then there was this: "One of the best lessons that my father always taught me was, when you make a mistake, you should own it." Doesn't seem like a lesson that the congresswoman has very often taken to heart. "I believe that if we're going to lead," Greene added later, "we need to be able to lead in a way where if we've messed up, it's very important for us to say we're sorry." In the larger context of Greene's career, one might even call this shameless.
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