Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn't care about bathroom safety, she's just homophobic
Also: Biden and Trump both addressed the war in Ukraine on Saturday. The contrast was striking.
Last fall, which was approximately two hundred years ago, Republicans successfully stoked culture war anxieties by making a big fuss over trans-inclusive school bathroom policies. In particular, politicians and right-wing media personalities hunting for ways to weaponize LGBT issues exploited a sexual assault in Loudoun County, Virginia (the assault actually had nothing do with said policies).
This attempt to link trans-inclusive bathroom policies and safety risks is not supported by data. It was never on the level. But if you needed more evidence that all the GOP talk about bathrooms was really just euphemized bigotry, consider comments Marjorie Taylor Greene made at the Saturday Trump rally in Commerce, Georgia.
As part of a crude attack on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Greene said he “can take his electric vehicles and his bicycles, and he and his husband can stay out of our girls’ bathrooms.”
The idea that gay men are predators who are looking for reasons to violate children in bathrooms is obviously about as homophobic as it gets. Unsurprisingly, however, the audience responded to Greene’s comment with big cheers.
Donald Trump, who deceived gullible pundits into believing he was a new type of LGBT-friendly Republican simply by brandishing a pride flag during his 2016 campaign, is of course totally unbothered by Greene’s outrageous bigotry.
“People don’t like admitting it, but someone that is really popular and loved and a very good person — and watch what happens when I announce her name — Marjorie Taylor Green,” he gushed during his speech while inviting her on stage for an encore appearance.
The episode serves as a reminder that the bathroom moral panic was never really been about the safety of children — it was about trying to tarnish Democrats by associating them with gay and transgender people that a significant portion of Republican voters and elected officials remain prejudiced against. Greene just let the mask slip.
Trump turned on the Georgia governor because he didn’t help with his coup attempt
While Greene was entirely shameless, Trump was comparatively coy, referring to his post-2020 election coup attempt as a mere effort to secure “election integrity.” But the fact remains that he was in Georgia to attack Gov. Brian Kemp for not doing more to help him overturn his election loss.
Trump held Saturday’s rally ostensibly on behalf of David Perdue, the former US Senator who is now challenging Kemp in a primary election. Perdue has made the big lie the foundation of his campaign, going as far as to tell a right-wing media personality last week that his loss to Jon Ossoff was also a product of election fraud. (Not only is this a lie, but it’s nonsensical — Georgia’s state government is controlled by Republicans.)
Then, during his speech on Saturday, Perdue cited the big lie and called for people to be thrown in jail.
It’s notable that nearly seven years out from Trump launching his fateful 2016 presidential campaign, none of this even really registers as a news story anymore. That the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee and his followers want to overthrow the government is just background noise.
It’s not like Kemp is some sort of liberal Republican. He’s a staunch Trump backer who dismissed Trump’s efforts to bully state officials into finding votes for him, made a shameless pilgrimage to the White House in December 2020 even as Trump relentlessly vilified him, and said he’ll support Trump in 2024. He’s backed Trump’s policies at every turn.
So what did Kemp do to cause Trump to turn on him? He refused to call a special session to overturn Biden’s Georgia victory.
If you’re a Republican, anything short of actively aiding Trump’s autocratic ambitions runs the risk of him campaigning against you, making you unelectable. As political scientist Brian Klaas told me last fall, “if you have an authoritarian party that's trying to win power, every election is an existential threat to democracy to a certain extent.”
Biden’s historic Warsaw speech
While Trump was doing his usual thing in Georgia, President Biden was in Warsaw on Saturday to deliver a speech that was steeped in Polish history and framed Putin’s war on Ukraine in terms of the broader global conflict between authoritarianism and democracy.
For better or worse, the content of Biden’s big speech was mostly overshadowed by nine words he uttered at the very end, when he said of Putin, “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
The remark sparked speculation that Biden now endorses a policy of regime change in Russia. The White House quickly tried to walk it back, with an official telling reporters that his point “was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia or regime change.”
It’s a bit of a shame that Biden’s remark sucked up so much oxygen in the coverage of his speech, because there was a lot of other important stuff in there. Biden referred to Putin as “a criminal” and rebutted his efforts to vilify NATO, which Biden referred to as a “defensive alliance.” Biden clarified that “Americans forces are not in Europe to engage in conflict with Russian forces. Americans forces are here to defend NATO allies.” He offered American help in weaning Europe off Russian fossil fuels, and also addressed Russians directly, saying, “You, the Russian people, are not our enemy.”
Meanwhile, back in the US, Trump was busy denigrating America’s NATO allies and sharing with his fans that had Russia attacked a NATO country during his presidency, he wouldn’t necessarily have lived up to the alliance’s collective defense obligations.
The contrast, as always, is striking.