Marjorie Taylor Greene’s fire was suddenly extinguished this week. She has made herself irrelevant

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08: U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), trailed by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), speaks to members of the press while exiting the U.S. Capitol after introducing a motion to vacate on the floor of the House of Representatives seeking to remove Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) from his leadership position May 8, 2024 in Washington, DC. The House voted 359 to 43 to table the motion to vacate. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Marjorie Taylor Greene made sure to milk every moment of the six weeks since she filed her motion to vacate. Inexplicably, she regularly paraded around the Hill with her boyfriend — Right Side Broadcasting Network host Brian Glenn — and was often also accompanied by her cueballed press secretary Nick Dyer. When Greene finally actually called for a vote on Wednesday night and a group of centrist Republicans gathered, Glenn and Dyer watched on. Dyer lit a cigarette. Glenn told me he supported his girlfriend “one hundred per cent.”

Greene relished the fact that amid multiple important votes in Congress — including lawmakers passing legislation to keep the government open and assisting allies like Ukraine — all of the reporters huddled around her and asked for her thoughts. This happened despite the fact that she never had the votes to depose Mike Johnson. She didn’t really have anything serious to offer him, either.

When she finally pulled her motion to vacate on Wednesday, she enraged Republicans and Democrats alike for the simple reason that they were all about to go home early. It was just before a final round of votes, after which the House had already decided to let everyone leave. That might have been why representatives from both sides groaned, hollered and heckled her.

Hopefully, Greene enjoyed all that attention on Wednesday, when her attempt to boot Johnson failed spectacularly, because it will likely be the peak of her relevance. Unlike Matt Gaetz’s successful motion to vacate against Kevin McCarthy, this vote has rendered Greene impotent. Her decision to trigger the motion despite the fact that she had little chance of success likely means she will have little power. Even her most powerful ally, Donald Trump, publicly rebuked her.

There is no other way to interpret Greene’s decision than this: She had repeatedly been on the wrong side of the internal House Republican civil war. When Republicans took control of the House, she decided to align herself with Kevin McCarthy in hopes that she would get the committee assignments Democrats took away from her for making bigoted and conspiracy-mongering comments.

The alliance between Greene and McCarthy was surprising, given that McCarthy was a creature of the swampy establishment the MAGA wing always loathed. But Greene argued the need to get behind McCarthy in order to mitigate the risk that some Republicans might make a Democrat speaker.

US representative-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene offers a phone to Matt Rosendale in the House Chamber during the fourth day of voting for Speaker of the House at the US Capitol Building on 6 January 2023 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)
US representative-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene offers a phone to Matt Rosendale in the House Chamber during the fourth day of voting for Speaker of the House at the US Capitol Building on 6 January 2023 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

By doing so, she wound up becoming part of the very establishment that Trump had spent years railing against. Meanwhile, her former friends like Gaetz and Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado all blocked McCarthy — which put Greene in the uncomfortable position of defending the establishment. When the House nearly devolved into fisticuffs, one of the more iconic photos that emerged showed Greene getting Trump on the phone and Representative Matt Rosendale brushing her off.

Joining up with McCarthy proved to be temporarily beneficial to Greene. She joined the House Education and Workforce Committee (Republicans always change the name from “Education and Labor” when they’re in charge, lest they sound too pro-union) and got to display nude pictures of Hunter Biden at Oversight Committee hearings.

But she began to lose her ability to credibly call herself a rebel. She voted for the debt limit agreement McCarthy’s team brokered with the White House, despite calling it a “s**t sandwich.” Her needling of the Freedom Caucus — the OG conservative hellraisers who are pros at making a speaker’s life miserable — led them to kick her out.

Meanwhile, when she publicly threatened to break with McCarthy and said she’d file a motion to vacate if he didn’t start an impeachment inquiry into Biden, it rang hollow. Everyone knew she wouldn’t really do it: it would mean she would lose the power she had worked so hard to acquire.

The only thing she seemed effective at doing was stonewalling aid to Ukraine. Even when McCarthy sealed his fate by passing a stopgap spending bill in September, it did not come with aid to Ukraine — a notable concession to Greene.

Her desire to hold onto such power was precisely why she opposed vacating McCarthy when Gaetz pulled off his coup with seven other Republicans. She made occasional noise during the 22 days of the speaker-less Thunderdome but they mostly came off as wimpers and she didn’t receive nearly as much attention for them as Nancy Mace, Gaetz, Chip Roy or Ken Buck.

When Johnson, a far more MAGA-friendly speaker, came into office, Greene’s influence further diminished — especially as the impeachment inquiry sputtered along and Trump reassumed the formal mantle of standard bearer of the GOP.

And ultimately, Gaetz’s stunt also neutered Greene, because Johnson came to realise he could never placate the hard-right Republicans — so he simply ignored them. His main grunts’ desire to keep things normal and his willingness to work with Democrats meant they considered him a far more honest broker. Greene’s bargaining price therefore became more expensive than anything Democrats could offer, even if that equaled billions of aid in Ukraine.

In truth, Greene’s motion should not be seen as a chance for her to reassert her control of the party, but rather as an act of desperation. It was her attempt to re-seize the messaging wars and the spotlight from Gaetz, Mace and Boebert. Part of the reason it failed so spectacularly was because she created an impossible dilemma for herself by filing her motion so publicly. If she had never filed, she would look like a coward who backed down despite her pugnacious reputation; but if she called a vote and lost, she would be rendered powerless. She put herself between a rock and a hard place.

She obviously chose to call the vote, dragging out the process long enough to earn two meetings with Johnson and far-right Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie. This all happened despite the fact that Trump opposed it and despite the fact that only one member of the “Gaetz Eight” — Representative Eli Crane — voted against tabling the measure.

Doing so has now made her look like the exact same thing that Trump mocks: a loser and a hater.

After months of diverting the spotlight to herself, Greene has found herself on an empty stage. She never prevented the passage of the one thing she hated — Ukraine aid — and also failed to push her other project, the Biden impeachment.

Conversely, Johnson seems to have cracked the code of doing just enough MAGA — he appeared with Representative Chip Roy in a press conference just hours before Roy voted against tabling Greene’s motion — while also managing the basic functions of governing. Johnson might be too polite to punish Greene. He might be. But then again, the polite ones are always the most dangerous.

For the past two years, Greene has garnered the press corps’ attention because of her closeness to Trump and her ability to bend Republican leadership to her will. All the while, reporters gave her a platform to spout the most repulsive and repugnant rhetoric, with little to no consequences.

Now that she has failed, she should receive less play than any other backbencher. Her fire is suddenly and ingloriously extinguished, just like the ashes of her flack’s cigarette on the steps of the Capitol.