Voices: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s CPAC speech was surprising in all the wrong ways
Marjorie Taylor Greene walked down the red carpet at CPAC today in a sparkly pink top with a smile on her face. There was no doubt that she was one of the brightest shining stars on the CPAC roster, a clear-eyed true believer who just loves to tell it like it is. Her fifteen-minute speech had already been hyped up on the official CPAC Twitter and the crowd in the room was surprisingly dense for a 10am slot. Expectations were high.
But even from the beginning, Marj didn’t quite deliver at the energy level that was needed. She opened with: “The left has told us something that should put fear in the hearts of every parent, and even people who aren’t parents. They’ve said they’re coming for our children.” That got a cheer, sure, but I expected more, especially as she stumbled a little on the delivery. Ted Cruz would’ve said, “THE LEFT HAS TOLD US SOMETHING THAT SHOULD TERRIFY EVERY AMERICAN: THEY’RE COMING FOR YOUR CHILDREN.” Donald Trump would’ve said, “Some very fine people told me the other day Nancy Pelosi aborts white American children at the border as a favor to Mexican fentanyl vendors.” Parents are all well and good, Marjorie, but this is CPAC. We don’t just want to hear about parents whose kids might be transgender. We want to hear that liberals are vaccinating our children against conservative values in communist schools using Jewish space lasers. Bring back that clip where you chased a school shooting survivor down the street and called him a coward, Marjorie! Where’s that energy at 10am on a Friday in Washington DC? Bring it back!
Of course, there was a smattering of lackluster boos. They got louder and more enthusiastic when Greene moved away from gender-affirming healthcare and onto Ukraine. “Zelensky wants our sons and daughters to die in Ukraine!” she yelled. “Boo!” responded the crowd. “The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus said they are literally coming for your children!” she added. “BOO!” the crowd responded, louder. This was the kind of thing they came for! Hating on men who stand up to Putin! Gay people! San Francisco! (The song Greene is referencing, by the way, is a tongue-in-cheek tune by the Gay Men’s Chorus that tells conservatives the world is becoming more tolerant, even if they don’t like it.)
Sensing that the crowd was hungry for more, MTG then leaned in to a couple convenient lies: When she first turned up in Congress, she said, she thought she was there to “fight the radical left” and “fight for conservative values”. But on day one, she received a missive from Nancy Pelosi that said “gender was banned” in the House from now on. Incredibly, all pronouns were disallowed! No one was ever going to be allowed to say “mother, father, sister, brother” again, either. I must’ve missed that one, so it’s lucky Marjorie was paying attention. She responded by putting a sign on her door saying there are only two genders, she said. That’ll teach ‘em!
It was a bizarre, winding story that didn’t exactly make clear how a poster talking about two genders would bring back the supposed ban on saying “mother” and “father” in Congress. But her fans had enough in there to boo to make it fun — Pelosi, pronouns, posters. The three P’s. There was also a big cheer when she described herself as “extreme”.
For good measure, she tacked on a story about how her big ambition when she was a child was to “be a mom”. Luckily, she added, she now is a mom. There was a smattering of applause for Marjorie Taylor Greene’s functioning uterus.
There’s no doubt that the crowd loves MTG, but they mainly love her because what they’ve read and seen about her. The truth is that this morning, she was pretty unremarkable for a self-styled extremist. When she went back to her transgender talking point and added that there are “teenage girls having their breasts cut off and boys that are having their penises turned inside-out,” onlookers were silent. It was all a bit visceral for a ten o’clock speech that was scheduled immediately after a commercial about the importance of reading your bible.
Perhaps sensing she was losing them, Greene went back to what worked in the beginning. There would be “no more money for Ukraine!” Big cheer! “I will directly look at a camera and tell Zelensky: You better keep your hands off our children,” she added. Obviously she won’t say it to his face, but by god, she will look at a camera directly!
And then time was up and she was off. For a firebrand and a self-styled radical, she radiated a lot less zeal than her co-speakers at the conference for white male oppression and chemtrails. The content of what she says is often, proudly, extreme, but her delivery was a little lacking in charisma. When you can’t even say in your rhetoric that you’ll go straight to Kyiv and yell it in Zelensky’s face — when your imagined hero’s scenario is still just telling the guy something over Zoom — then you look a little small-time in compared to the Jair Bolsonaros, the Donald Trump Juniors and the Kimberly Guilfoyles of this world. It’s a solid seven out of ten for effort today, Marjorie. Maybe go back to the space lasers for next year’s appearance — we know you’ve got some legislation to push, but at CPAC, it’s all about the greatest hits.