Yes, I had to polish my eyeglasses and put them back on for a second look before I could believe what the always provocative and occasionally rational Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene had just tweeted.
In a takeoff on the Black Lives Matter slogan, she tweeted “Defund the FBI.”
Barely a step ahead of other like-minded lawmakers, the Georgia Republican went on to sell hats and other souvenir merchandise online with the slogan, all in response to the FBI’s execution of a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida home of her hero, former President Donald Trump.
Although more than a dozen other Republicans publicly shared Greene’s sentiments, others, like Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, were not amused.
Although he was “impressed Democrats finally got us to say, ‘Defund the FBI,’ “he said sarcastically, the slogan “makes you look unserious, when you start talking like that.”
On that, I agree. I have expressed similar criticism of the original “Defund the police” slogan as it emerged amid global protests by the Black Lives Matter movement following George Floyd’s murder by police in 2020.
Although apologists defended the slogan as a call for constructively rethinking policies that pile too many social service burdens on police, conservatives easily turned it into a call for softness on crime.
Now, in another ironic twist, a disturbing number of Republicans are using it to call for softness on Trump.
After the FBI search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, many Trump supporters have turned a slogan they hate into one that they love, even at the cost of the GOP calls to “Support the police” and “Back the Blue” going back at least to Richard M. Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign.
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, whom I call Greene’s brother in shameless grandstanding, threatened to give “not one more damn penny” to the FBI and other such agencies.
To which BLM tweeted back with “you are corny ... But we’ll work with you to defund and dismantle the FBI. Welcome to #DefundThePolice.”
While most of the GOP’s establishment leaders stayed out of the fray, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California just couldn’t hold back.
“The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization,” he tweeted after the search.
Right. This is the same leader who during a Police Week speech in May fretted that “hateful rhetoric” and policies have helped to create an “environment of rising crime and put our officers in danger.”
The search came after Trump repeatedly failed to comply with more polite invitations to return classified government documents he had taken to his home. Instead of complying, he had turned to such tricks as claiming to have declared the documents “declassified” without any documentation to back that up. That’s not how declassification is done, as they say in Washington, especially when you’re no longer president.
Now the locking of arms around “Defund the FBI,” amid other far-right hostility to agents who appear only to be doing their job, reveals strange new evidence of an old political wisdom: Sooner or later, all political movements begin to sound alike.
Now we see some Republicans finding virtue in “Defund the FBI” as a rallying cry for Trump’s MAGA (Make America Great Again) base. They’re hungrily looking for some solace amid the pile of scandals threatening their favorite potential candidate.
So far, echoing Trump’s FBI attacks appears remarkably to be working, even in the wake of shocking revelations uncovered by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
After the committee took its summer break, a poll by The New York Times and Siena College showed Trump’s support had weakened, as almost half of Republican voters said they would rather move on from Trump to a new standard-bearer.
But after the search at Mar-a-Lago, a new poll by the Trafalgar Group and the Convention of States Action found that more than 80% of Republican respondents said the feds’ action made them more motivated to vote in this November’s midterm elections.
Fortunately, it is not the job of Attorney General Merrick Garland to win friends or votes.
Unfortunately, as another old quote goes, the wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow, especially when lawyers are paid by the hour.
Regardless, our justice system is being tested in this case, along with our democracy. Let’s take our time and do it right. Our system of justice isn’t perfect but, for now, it’s all we’ve got.
Email Clarence Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.