Nothing unifies a fraught and fractured nation like accusing your political opponents of “treason” and “sedition.”
That would be the same “treason” that in America earns you a one-way trip to the gallows. Swing, baby, swing.
Such is the noble timber of the great statesman from Arizona, Rep. Greg Stanton, just hours after a marauding mob smashed its way into the U.S. Capitol and laid siege to the very bosom of our republic.
Mr. Stanton, however, was not talking about the thugs who kicked in windows and splintered doors to gain illegal entry into the nation’s Capitol. From above, Constantino Brumidi’s apotheosis of George Washington must have wept, alongside Victory, Liberty and his 13 maidens gathered around the interior of the Capitol dome.
No, Mr. Stanton was apparently bored of the marauders, every single one of whom should be identified, arrested, charged and sent to prison. Anyway, there is no political advantage to scoring points off such pathetic miscreants. “Punching down,” as the political set around here calls it. No, Mr. Stanton sought a bigger, more politically profitable target.
“Over the last few hours,” he said after the Capitol had been cleared of rioters, “we have seen the consequences of dangerous, un-American rhetoric: an armed insurrection against the seat of government of the most powerful country on earth.”
Small point of “personal privilege” — as the blowhards in Congress like to say — but Mr. Stanton did not make it explicitly clear if the “dangerous” rhetoric that sparked the “insurrection” had come from President Trump complaining about the 2020 election earlier in the day or from Democrats who have relentlessly complained about the 2016 election for four years straight.
Nor did he say if he was referring to the four-year fantasy Democrats and the media cooked up against the president based on the wildest conspiracy theories Russia has to offer. Nor did he say if he was referring to the meeting inside the Oval Office four years ago this week between the sitting president, the sitting vice president who will be our next president and top intelligence officials to discuss an espionage campaign against the incoming, duly-elected president.
Mr. Stanton did not have to clarify whom he was talking about. Everybody knew exactly whom he was sliming for political gain.
“An attempted coup,” he called it, “spurred by rhetoric coming from those who are looking out for themselves — not country.”
Again, this was just hours after rioters had invaded our nation’s Capitol, violating the very sanctity of our republic. A woman had been shot and killed by police. And this sleazy, low-rent, anonymous, cheap political hack was already desperately clawing for shiny bits of partisan silver in the dusty rubble.
But Mr. Trump was not the only one Mr. Stanton hoped to shake down in that sad, grim moment. There were Republicans in that very chamber who he suspected might have bits of silver in their pant cuffs and mingled with the lint in their pockets.
“It is stunning, Madam Speaker, that there are some in this House who have voiced support for what happened,” he said. “It was not a protest. It was treason. It was sedition.”
Another, ah, small point of “personal privilege.” Mr. Stanton’s charge was a lie. There was not one single Democrat or Republican in either chamber of Congress who breathed the slightest whiff of support for the violent thuggery — something that cannot be said about Democrats regarding the months of riots our nation endured this past summer in Washington and across the country. At least Vice President Mike Pence never raised a penny in bail money to get any thugs sprung from jail in time for the next riot — as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris did this past summer.
Mr. Stanton’s brief moment in the spotlight was made all the more jarring and pathetic by the solemn purpose of the gathering in the House chamber late Wednesday night.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveled in the session to prove to the world that no marauding mob could deter or bully Congress. It was a sterling moment and she handled it beautifully.
But no sooner had she opened the floor but the dishonesty and partisan recriminations flood back into the well of the chamber.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer condemned the entirely appropriate and constitutional efforts to challenge state election results.
“All they will accomplish is to encourage the dangerous divisions among our people and energize foreign conspiracies which seek to erode our democracy and system of free and fair elections,” said Mr. Hoyer, who led the effort to impeach Mr. Trump based on crazy Russian disinformation paid for by Democratic operatives who dug up the slime during their failed 2016 election.
Behind Mr. Hoyer — masked, yet unashamed — sat Rep. Eric Swalwell, the California Democrat who used a Chinese spy to raise money for his political campaigns.
Any hope that President-elect Joseph R. Biden might make good on his promises to unify the country were quickly dashed by Thursday.
The riotous mob that breached the Capitol, he said, was entirely Mr. Trump’s fault.
“The past four years we have had a president who has made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done,” Mr. Biden said. “He unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset and yesterday was but the culmination of that unrelenting attack.”
Again, this from the man who sat in the Oval Office four years ago this week to plot the unfounded espionage campaign against the incoming president, Donald J. Trump.
• Charles Hurt is opinion editor of The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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