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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene attends a rally held by Donald Trump in Ohio on November 7, 2022. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.)

On Wednesday morning NBC rocked the chatterati by reporting that the most prominent crank in the House GOP caucus, Marjorie Taylor Greene, aspires to be Donald Trump’s running mate in 2024.

Count me among those who were surprised. I’d already penciled her in as a future attorney general

But the astonished reaction to the news threw me for another reason, namely that it’s not actually news. Journalist Robert Draper has been getting an earful about Greene’s vice presidential ambitions straight from the horse’s mouth for nearly a year. In October, the New York Times published this excerpt from his new book about MAGA populists building influence in Congress.

Two months into 2022 — barely over a year into her career as an elected official — Greene told me that she and the former president had already discussed the possibility of her being his running mate in 2024.

“I would be honored,” she said of this prospect, though she also acknowledged that G.O.P. advisers would urge Trump to think twice about a candidate as divisive as herself: “I think the last person that the R.N.C. or the national party wants is me as his running mate.” Regardless of her future prospects, Greene’s observation to me in September that she didn’t need an official leadership position to enjoy an unofficial one seems beyond dispute.

No one paid much attention to that at the time, and why would they? Draper himself acknowledged that Trump is doubtless humoring many of his sycophants in Congress with idle chit chat about potentially adding them to the ticket. And Greene herself seemed to understand that there’d be too much opposition from the Republican establishment for Trump to actually follow through.

But here we are, months later, and NBC is still hearing murmurs about the idea. “She sees herself on the short list for Trump’s VP. Paraphrasing Cokie Roberts, when MTG looks in the mirror she sees a potential president smiling back,” Steve Bannon told the network. Another source who’s advised Greene said bluntly that her “whole vision is to be vice president.” Two weeks ago The Daily Beast reported that Greene’s name is in fact being kicked around Trumpworld as a potential running mate along with other women like Elise Stefanik and, er, Tulsi Gabbard.

Vice President Marjorie Taylor Greene. It’s too ludicrous even for Trump.

Isn’t it?

In the end, I think it’s too ludicrous even for Trump.

No matter how he strains to shift blame for the GOP’s midterm debacle to Mitch McConnell or pro-lifers, it must have penetrated that thick noggin of his at some point that wild-eyed populists fared conspicuously poorly in November. Out of 13 battleground races for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state last year in which the party nominated an election denier, the GOP went a cool 0-for-13.

A man who’s looking to rehabilitate himself with wary swing voters in 2024 logically shouldn’t want to double down on crazy. 

Granted, Trump has a fatal attraction to crankery, but cooler heads around him like Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita will press hard for a vice president in the Nikki Haley mold. Nominating a woman might appeal to suburbanites in theory; in practice, choosing a woman who’s a bigger kook than he is risks squandering any potential benefit. How will stuff like this play with college grads, do you suppose?

Putting Greene on the ticket would help Democrats a bunch. And Democrats know it.

When news broke recently that Greene and other insurrection-friendly populists like Lauren Boebert and Paul Gosar will be staffing the new House Oversight Committee charged with investigating Joe Biden, the White House reportedly reacted with “unbridled glee.” They know that a committee run by unserious grandstanders is destined to become a self-discrediting clown show, emanating more heat than light.

If they’re that excited about seeing MTG on a prominent committee, imagine how excited they’d be to see her as the Republican vice presidential nominee. Given that the unspoken credo of modern right-wing politics is “whatever the libs want, do the opposite,” how could Trump and his team possibly consider making her his running mate?

He’s listened to reason before in choosing a running mate. In 2016 he reportedly offered the VP job to Chris Christie, portending a ticket of two city slickers from the greater New York City area for a party populated mainly by rural evangelicals. Paul Manafort intervened and convinced Trump that Mike Pence, a heartland conservative with impeccable Christian credentials, would do better to reassure the base that Trump was one of them in spirit. Trump came around in the end. He’ll probably come around in the end again when his advisers inevitably start steering him away from Greene.

She’s a poor choice in other metrics too. Vice presidential nominees tend to be statewide officials, either governors with extensive executive experience or senators versed in national policy. Running and winning statewide typically requires appealing to an electorate that’s more diverse than the average gerrymandered House district, a compelling qualification for someone running on a national ticket. The obvious exception to the trend in modern times was Paul Ryan, who was a member of the House when he was nominated for VP in 2012. But Ryan was no ordinary backbencher: He was a future speaker of the House, the intellectual leader of congressional fiscal conservatives in an era when fiscal conservatism was in vogue, and a man who’d spent more than a decade in Congress when he was chosen.

Greene will have less than two terms in the House behind her on Election Day 2024. She’s not an intellectual leader of anything, to put it kindly. Her most noteworthy achievements in politics to date are getting kicked off of her House committees, pronouncing herself a “Christian nationalist,” and having to explain sporadically why she once believed space lasers funded by the Rothschilds might be to blame for wildfires in California.

Not an obvious résumé for someone whom voters might be asked to place one 78-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.

Even some of her kookery is a bad match for Trump. One of his few vulnerabilities among MAGA populists is his support for the COVID vaccines, a weakness already being cynically exploited by Ron DeSantis. Unless Trump is preparing to do a 180 and throw in with anti-vaxxers to appease the right, how can he have a running mate who’s prone to babbling about Died Suddenly?

The cardinal rule for vice presidential nominees is “first, do no harm.” Marjorie Taylor Greene could do great harm to Trump and the party, so plainly that it’s impossible that he and his inner circle don’t recognize it. Worse in his mind, she’s one of the few figures on the right who might compete with him for media attention if thrust into a national spotlight. A toxic egomaniac like Trump couldn’t tolerate that competition for long.

Even if she isn’t a real contender for his shortlist, though, both wings of the GOP have incentives to pretend like she is. Populists like Bannon will talk her up because doing so boosts her (and therefore their) influence within the party. Moderates will talk her up because treating her as a credible candidate might persuade her to suppress her kookiest instincts over the next two years in the name of “electability.” There’s already evidence of it: If you’ve wondered why and how MTG ended up a staunch member of Team Kevin McCarthy during the speaker fight, this is why. It was part of her mainstream “makeover” in hopes of joining the ticket in 2024.

All for naught. She won’t be VP.

So why can’t I shake the feeling that Trump might semi-seriously be considering it?

I can’t shake the feeling that Trump might semi-seriously be considering it because he’s Trump.

Rationally, the next Republican nominee should want to stay miles away from Greene after voters sent a clear “no cranks” message in November. Rationally, he should want a running mate with meaningful governing experience and strong policy chops. Rationally, he should be keen to “rebrand” as a sober, mainstream politician if his last official act in politics happened to be trying to organize a coup against the incoming president of the United States.

Rationally. But look who we’re talking about.

If Trump were rational, he would have spent every day since January 6 trying to convince swing voters that he’s a changed man whom they can feel safe trusting with power again. Instead his public platform is nonstop swill like this

…and this:

He’s never been close to what one would describe as “well” but the great disappointment of 2020 seems to have broken something in him. He sounds more febrile, and does so more often, than he did as president. Perhaps obsession is the inevitable result when a pathological narcissist’s ego sustains a wound as grievous as losing a national popularity contest.

But it might also be that Trump concluded at some point that his downfall as president was listening to too much strategic advice from milquetoast establishmentarians. The path to success for narcissists runs through trusting their guts and doing things their way. Maybe that’s where Trump has finally landed. Wiles and LaCivita can say what they want, but from now on, he’s going to let it rip and be himself, fully.

Trump 2024, in other words, looks like it’ll be what we might call a YOLO candidacy, and who better to have with him on a YOLO ticket than Marjorie Taylor Greene? Choosing her as a running mate would serve formal notice to the party and to the wider electorate that a second term would mean Trump unleashed.

I, for one, appreciate truth in advertising.

Adding Greene to the ticket would have other benefits for him. “What Greene possesses that Trump so craves is loyalty,” Draper told MSNBC in October. “She has always been there for Trump. She has always had his back, and after his experience with his last running mate, Mike Pence, it’s clear that he’s going to prize loyalty above all else, so I wouldn’t count it out.” A running mate like Nikki Haley might help with electability, but what’s the use of getting elected if you can’t count on your VP to assist you in an autogolpe should the opportunity arise? Haley couldn’t be relied upon to do Trump’s bidding in every instance. Greene could.

She could also help shore up his credibility with the right to the extent that credibility is lacking. Just as normie Republicans like Glenn Youngkin and Ron DeSantis went to bat for populist avatar Kari Lake last year to earn brownie points with the base, Trump himself might turn to Greene to shield him from his heresies on abortion and vaccination. Greene’s chatter about people “dying suddenly” isn’t necessarily a liability for him; it’s awkward given his role in funding the COVID vaccines, but having her on the ticket could help appease anti-vaxxers who’d otherwise hold that against him.

We’re in a dark place if Donald J. Trump is no longer crazy enough to win a Republican primary without help from someone crazier, but, well, we are in a dark place. The Dispatch wouldn’t exist if we weren’t.

Finally, don’t put it past him and his team to conclude that adding literally any woman to the ticket will help them in the suburbs, even if that woman happens to be a right-wing blog’s comment section made flesh. One Republican operative all but admitted as much to The Daily Beast. Explaining why Trump was looking exclusively at women running mates like Stefanik, Gabbard, and snarlin’ Marge, the seemingly straight-faced operative said, “You have to think about how you win suburban women and how you win battleground districts.”

Jewish space lasers, the key to winning the suburbs. It’s a miracle that the Trump brain trust got as close to victory in 2020 as they did.

There’s no rational argument for making Greene his running mate. But there’s also no rational argument for Trump to start putting his private communications in writing, the political equivalent of John Gotti ordering mob hits via fax. Rationality is no basis on which to analyze this guy’s decisions.

As a Never Trumper, I have mixed feelings about Trump/Greene 2024.

Objectively I oppose it because it’s a horrendous pairing. The only thing worse than having one post-liberal loose cannon on the ticket would be having two. A second Trump term would be a catastrophe for the country in any case but marginally less of one with Nikki Haley as vice president instead of Marjorie Taylor Greene. At least we’d have the comfort of knowing that government wouldn’t get worse if Trump keeled over.

On a primal level, I crave a Trump/Greene ticket.

For one thing, it’s less electable than a Trump/Haley ticket. Adding Haley as VP really might convince a decisive share of suburbanites that Trump has changed, sort of, and it’s okay to gamble on him again. Adding Greene would signal that not only hasn’t he changed, he’s worse than ever. Again: truth in advertising. If the supreme goal for civic-minded people next year is keeping Trump out of the White House, you should be rooting for him to be as self-destructive as possible.

Even if that means running the risk of Trump/Greene 2024 being elected.

Beyond that, Trump/Greene would be a fun test for our friends the anti-anti-Trumpers. Can the Republican Party cough up a ticket so comprehensively obnoxious and unqualified that even zombie partisans like the anti-antis will concede that it’s irresponsible for conservatives to support it?

The core of hardcore partisanship is the belief that the worst member of your party is preferable to whatever the other party is offering. Trump/Greene would test that faith like few other things could. If you can tolerate helping those two to power, you can tolerate anything in the name of brainless Team Red loyalty.

My guess is that most of the anti-antis will decide they can tolerate anything.
In the end, I suspect Trump will choose someone like Kristi Noem to be his running mate over MTG. She has executive experience, movie-star looks (which matter to Trump, of course), and is loyal enough to have already begun attacking his chief rival for the nomination. There’s no good argument for Greene over Noem—unless Trump believes he needs to max out on signaling his affinity for kooks in order to hold off DeSantis. If it’s a race to the bottom in the 2024 primary, Trump/Greene is unbeatable. Probably.

Nick Catoggio is a staff writer at The Dispatch and is based in Texas. Prior to joining the company in 2022, he spent 16 years gradually alienating a populist readership at Hot Air. When Nick isn’t busy writing a daily newsletter on politics, he’s … probably planning the next day’s newsletter.