In the current struggle for the soul of the Republican Party, the forces of sanity seem seriously outnumbered.

Until recently, that ultimate GOP establishmentarian, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, was willing to accommodate the unhinged elements in his party – especially a rogue president named Donald Trump. Now, though, he has not only blasted Trump for his role in the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, he has waded into the debate in the House of Representatives about what to do with newly-elected Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” McConnell said in a statement. “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality.”

That unnamed “somebody” McConnell called out is Greene. She is a subscriber to the lunatic theories of QAnon, has affirmed the canard that Jewish space lasers are the cause of wildfires in the West and supports the despicable lie that the deaths of the children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre were faked. McConnell is right to call her out and to finally state the obvious truth that his party is diseased by insane beliefs.

Another obvious truth, though, is that McConnell has taken a very lonely stand. Very few other Republicans have joined with him, and the House Republicans have refused to penalize Greene for her belligerent extremism. In the House, at least, that is because a big share of them – perhaps a majority – stand only a step or two away politically from Greene.

The Republican Party – from the grassroots, through local officials and state legislators, on up to Congress – is now captive to an extremist element motivated by right-wing commentators and online conspiracists. McConnell may be living in reality, but his party is not.  

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