We’ve had other such awful days.
April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery fired on Fort Sumpter igniting the US Civil War was one such day. So was December 7th, 1941, and so were those four terrible days on which US presidents were assassinated, and so was September 11, 2001, and January 6th, 2021, when a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol after being urged on by a defeated President of the United States to “fight like hell” to stop the peaceful transfer of power absolutely qualifies. And, yes, this weekend, May 28th, when Senate Republicans killed the House-approved, bi-partisan Commission (which would have included an equal number of Republicans and Democrats) to investigate the genesis of the January 6th insurrection against a presidential election (and against the Constitution of the United States) was yet another day in infamy.
My old party of nearly 50 years callously strangled a bi-partisan effort to establish an investigative commission (similar to the one established following the 9/11 attacks) to investigate the Jan. 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol. “It would be political,” the Republicans argued.
Well, “duh,” as they say; the entire January 6th attempt to destroy the 228-year-old tradition of peaceful transfer of power in the United States was an act of political treachery. So yes, patriotic Democrats and Republicans could and should have banded together to declare once and for all that this type of political treachery will not be tolerated. That’s what would have been political about the proposed January 6th Commission. It would have been a bi-partisan political act of patriotism. Dozens of Republicans in the House of Representatives and several in the Senate were willing to stand up for America, while an overwhelming number of Republicans in both chambers quaked in fear of the vituperative Maelstrom of Mar-a-Lago.
Some Republican Senators have been spinning yarn that even former Senator Joseph McCarthy might have found embarrassing. And speaking of the disgraced former Senator from Wisconsin, another McCarthy sound-alike, Wisconsin Senator, Ron Johnson, had this to say about January 6th, (it was) “really a peaceful protest, not an insurrection.”
Tell that to the federal prosecutors who reportedly have collected a mountain of evidence demonstrating that January 6th was a coordinated attack by the extremist Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Tell that to the families of those who lost their lives that day.
A McCarthy-era retort that made the history books 71 years ago seems appropriate here. “Senator, have you no decency?”
Then there was the spectacle of Representative Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.) who downplayed the insurrection even though photographs that day show him panic-stricken, mouth twisted in fear, rushing toward the doors to the House gallery to help barricade them from the insurrectionists. Here’s what the brave congressman from Georgia, bowing to the former President, had to say today about the January 6th riot, “It was just a normal tourist visit.”
Just six of fifty GOP senators joined with Democrats, so the measure was well short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill to the floor for a vote.
Like the 9/11 bi-partisan commission, the proposed commission would have consisted of 10 commissioners — five Democrats and five Republicans, who would have subpoena powers. A Democratic chair and Republican vice-chair would have had to approve all such subpoenas. The Republicans were not concerned about partisanship. Quite the contrary; they were concerned that a non-partisan investigation would have demonstrated that a rogue President was feverishly working on hanging onto a presidency he had lost. He would come after them if they allowed an investigation to proceed; that was their sole motivation. The thirty-five Republicans in the House and the six in the Senate who supported the bi-partisan Commission are the real heroes of the day.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hit the nail squarely on the head, “Out of fear of — or fealty to — Donald Trump, the Republican minority just prevented the American people from getting the full truth about Jan. 6.” He added: “Shame on the Republican Party for trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug because they’re afraid of Donald Trump.”
Maine’s Republican Susan Collins tried to rally support among her fellow GOP caucus members “I want to see a commission,” she said. “We need a commission. There are a lot of unanswered questions.” And that’s the problem. Too many Republicans simply don’t want those questions answered.
The Republican strategy? Sell the public on the idea that 2020 was just a year of urban disorder. The ruckus at the Capitol was just another one of the many disorders. No more and no less. No big deal.
They are betting the electorate won’t care or won’t remember. That might be a very bad bet.
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