GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level

When historians look back on the first quarter of the 21st century, it's a good bet that social media will be judged a net-negative for politicians of both parties (as well as for the media covering them).

Exhibit A comes in the form of an online feud between Reps. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP efforts to downplay danger of Capitol riot increase The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida MORE (R-Ga.) and Nancy MaceNancy MaceProtecting seniors from guardianship fraud and abuse House Democratic conference postponed due to COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta MORE (R-S.C.). This wasn't your typical disagreement over public policy. This was a “Mean Girls”-esque exchange, with Greene referring to Mace as "trash" and Mace retorting with explicit emojis to describe her intra-party adversary as “crazy.” 

The pointless war of words rightly generated headlines and certainly got the attention of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse GOP leaders vow to end proxy voting despite widespread use among Republicans Jan. 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to sit for interview How Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump MORE (R-Calif.), who privately urged his members to stop feuding ahead of the 2022 midterms, now only 11 months away. 

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But "trash" seemed to drive the news cycle, as two other congressional Republicans, Rep. Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertGOP Reps. Greene, Clyde accrue nearly 0K in combined mask fines Rand Paul cancels DirecTV subscription after it drops OAN Top House Democrat pushes for 'isolation boxes' for maskless lawmakers MORE (R-Colo.) and outgoing Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerJan. 6 committee subpoenas leaders of 'America First' movement Kinzinger welcomes baby boy Clyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' MORE (R-Ill.) slammed each other. Boebert had decided it was a great idea to publicly infer that Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarSenate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Overnight Defense & National Security — DOD watchdog to review extremism screening Omar calls for closure of Guantánamo Bay prison after 20 years of 'lawlessness and cruelty' MORE (D-Minn.) is a terrorist, prompting Kinzinger to describe her in all-caps as “TRASH.” Boebert subsequently apologized and reached out to Omar in a phone call that went nowhere quickly, according to both parties.  

The list of disparaging comments goes on, but you get the point: GOP House members seem to be fracturing more each day. It's ugly and pointless and something out of teenage drunk-dialing, except that this is playing out in front of millions on social media and is driving cable-news segments. 

All of this comes as Republicans should be planning what to do if they retake control of Congress after the 2022 midterm elections, thanks to President BidenJoe BidenPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Vilsack accuses China of breaking commitments in Trump-era trade deal MORE dragging down his own party with the worst drop in presidential poll numbers since World War II. 

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The 46th president is close to 10 points underwater in the RealClearPolitics average overall and is losing independents at an alarming rate. On the economy, crime and immigration, he's in the 30s and 20s for approval — and that’s just some of the issues on which his administration appears incompetent or worse. He’s even polling underwater on his administration’s response to COVID-19, an issue on which he was at +30 points approval as recently as this summer. 

The GOP is on track to gain 40, 50, 60 or more seats next November; it needs to flip just five seats to retire Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress Manchin: Biden spending plan talks would start 'from scratch' Reps. Massie, Grijalva test positive for COVID-19 MORE as House speaker. Given that Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJudge denies Trump spokesman's effort to force Jan. 6 committee to return financial records Gina McCarthy: Why I'm more optimistic than ever on tackling the climate crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks MORE lost 63 congressional seats in the 2010 midterms despite ramming through ObamaCare and given that Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE lost 43 seats in 2018 despite ramming through tax cuts, the safe bet is that Democrats will lose not only dozens of House seats but perhaps even the Senate, now in a 50-50 split. 

Yet some Republican House members simply can't discipline themselves to stay off Twitter and stick to the issues, to make common-sense arguments on how to fix the myriad problems created or exacerbated by Biden, Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure Voting rights and Senate wrongs MORE (D-N.Y.), who all seem to believe that passing bills with trillions in new spending will lower inflation and decrease the deficit. 

Social media is a look-at-me megaphone for more than a few lawmakers of both parties who draw attention to themselves through snarky, provocative tweets. It isn’t just Republicans, of course. Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellSwalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down There's no such thing as 'absolute immunity' for former presidents The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden strategizes with Senate Dems MORE (D-Calif.) launched a presidential campaign largely off of being a Twitter troll and an MSNBC darling. 

The same goes for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMissouri House Democrat becomes latest to test positive for COVID-19 Louisiana Rep. Troy Carter announces positive COVID-19 test Joining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks MORE (D-N.Y.), who has received more media attention for doing less than any other member in recent congressional history. Why? Largely for over-the-top tweets like one claiming that Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court sides with murder defendant in major evidentiary ruling Ossoff and Collins clash over her past support for voting rights legislation Supreme Court rejects Trump's bid to shield records from Jan. 6 committee MORE "remains credibly accused of sexual assault on multiple accounts with corroborated details" and somehow tying that to the court hearing arguments on abortion. It's enough to make your hair hurt. 

According to a study by the non-partisan Center for Effective Lawmaking at Vanderbilt University, Ocasio-Cortez is one of the least effective lawmakers in Congress. Among Democrats, she ranked 230th out of 240; she ranked last among New York’s 18 congressional Democrats. 

No matter: CNN gave her a primetime documentary called "Being AOC." Time Magazine dubbed her "The Phenom" on one of its covers and New York Magazine committed multiple writers to pen essays talking about everything from her beauty to her authenticity to – you guessed it – her social media "greatest hits." 

 

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Where does all this media love stem from? Mainly her ability to insult others (including fellow Democrats) on Twitter and Instagram. 

But the focus at the moment isn't on Democratic infighting — it’s on Republicans. (That could change when the Senate pares Biden’s Build Back Better bill even further, and House progressives once again voice their displeasure.)

Social media is the worst thing that’s happened to political debate. It's too easy to criticize others on the most personal terms, in ways that make junior high students look mature. The provocateurs score cheap points and get news coverage embracing the snark.

Right now, a few members of the Trumpian wing of the Republican Party are getting their time in the spotlight by doing this. They were sent to Washington to solve problems, to help make lives better for others. Instead, we’re getting sound and fury in the form of social-media disrespect and scorn. 

And Congress wonders why its approval rating is down 15 points since earlier this year, from 36 percent to 21 percent overall.  

Americans are tired of lawmakers making themselves the story. They want them to do their jobs, get to work, grow up — and get off of Twitter.  

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.