• Daniel Ethan Finneran

On Marjorie Taylor Greene

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

To remain silent, we’re told, is the most useful service that a mediocre speaker can render to the public good. Indeed, I’d go so far to say that it’s not only a useful service—though doubtless it is—but an extremely charitable and magnanimous one as well. It’s an act, too often resisted by those who wield both microphone and power, for which we, a captive democratic audience, would all be eternally thankful. To remain silent when, frankly, one’s eloquence is incommensurate to the subject at hand, or to stay quiet when one’s fluidity thickens as if congealed, is not only a display of great reticence and humility, but a sign of discretion, self-awareness, and, above all, tact.

It is, I think, a sign that our wordless speaker, our mute orator, knows herself to a remarkable and subtle degree, and—in knowing to so intimate a depth such an honest person—respects the listener before whom her scant abilities are placed. She acknowledges her shortcomings, resists the overwhelming urge to improve them, and encumbers us not with her mediocrity, if she can help it.

Should she recognize her natural limitations, and, in so doing, keep quiet her thoughts, the public’s esteem for her suspected genius will be heightened, and the conversation through which she mercifully refused to allow it to suffer, happily re-directed and more gracefully applied. If she were to succeed in maintaining so taciturn a pose, and avoid falling prey to her own vanity and crudeness, she might only risk being thought a fool, instead of unhinging her jaw, and—with but one utterance unaccompanied by thought—confirming all the suspicions with which the minds of her critics were filled.

So much can be said of the mediocre speaker. We confront, now, in the person of Marjorie Taylor Greene—the freshman representative from the purple state of Georgia—not only the mediocre speaker, but the unenlightened thinker. This, we’ve learned, is a dangerous combination. Often, the latter suggests the former, but that’s not always the case. Nevertheless, both are vulnerable to a similar critique, and are subject to a shared recommendation about how best to proceed if they’re not to fail us in public life.

In what way can the unenlightened thinker be of any real utility to the common happiness or the national grandeur? How is it that a person not only shorn of brilliance, but seemingly unacquainted with common sense, advances the public weal, or extends the welfare of the country toward which, despite the diversity of our goals, and the caprice of our spirit, we as Americans still collectively strive? What should so thoughtless, vulgar, inarticulate, and beclouded a person do if, by her action, some salutary service is to befall the republic?

Remaining silent, as we ask the mediocre speaker to do, won’t on its own suffice. Ms. Greene, the unenlightened thinker, anti-Semitic meme generator, conspiracy theorist, and political eccentric must also toil to make herself unseen.

She must relieve us not only of her voice, but of her visage; not only of her wild words, but of her physical presence. If we are to derive any benefit from her representation, and if the party of which she’s a member, under whose aegis she campaigns, is to avoid suffering the humiliation of a tarnished name and a laughable reputation, she must be privileged with neither a forum from which to be heard, nor a stage on which to be seen.

To remain both silent and concealed, undetectable and impotent, would be the most useful service that she might render to the public good. Ideally, the Republican Party would’ve assured her this fate. Intolerant of her sophomoric social media postings, and unamused by her bizarre behavior and offensive claims, the Republican Party might’ve denied her the opportunity to be seated on a committee. There are, at last count, nearly two-hundred-and-fifty from which to choose, each one more solemn than the next. These are the places in which meticulous legislation is crafted, verbose bills are produced, and great political (and occasionally personal) fortunes are made.

In a word, these are supposed to be enclaves of focused, legislative expertise, to which only the soberest of congressmen and astute of policy-makers gain admittance. And, as stated, Ms. Greene is just the opposite: unserious and obtuse. Yet, after openly denouncing Ms. Greene, and attaching to her such epithets as “cancerous” and “loony”, and claiming that she does not represent the morals of the party, the Republicans failed to bar her from sitting on a committee. An internal vote held by their caucus, over which Minority-leader, Kevin McCarthy had the unenviable task of presiding, delivered to her a favorable verdict. They would allow this unenlightened thinker, and this much-less-than mediocre speaker, to serve in committees, after all.

This might’ve been the end of the tale, but the Democrat House majority took an unprecedented step. Reminiscent of Harry Reid’s ill-conceived abolition of the filibuster for lower court judicial nominees, the Democrats—buoyed by the strength of their slim majority—voted to ban Ms. Greene from the enjoyment of future committee positions. They put a wall in front of the door to which she’d just been given the keys.

Yet again, a Rubicon was crossed. Short-term expediency was the profit; a future of reciprocation, the foreseeable loss. With but the slightest change in the electorate’s fancy, by which an exchange of the majority will be democratically ordained, this move will be the source of future regret. We’ll return to this vaticination in two years’ time, when Republicans demote from their lofty committee-appointments the infamous duo of anti-Semites beyond whose foul utterances, we’re still advised to look: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

While the means of which the Democrats made use were, in every way, undesirable and, as we’ll see, probably harmful, the end is not one to which I can passionately object. Quite the contrary, I embrace it. As a mediocre speaker, and an unenlightened thinker, Ms. Greene will now have the opportunity to render to the public good the two actions for which she’s most suited: remaining silent, and remaining unseen.

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