Before the House of Representatives took a vote to censure Paul Gosar, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stood up and made a fervent appeal to the assembly. Not on her behalf but on behalf of human decency, she asked, “What is so hard about saying that this is wrong?”
The thing Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to admit is wrong was the act of one member depicting himself murdering another member in a cartoon. Minority leader Kevin McCarthy couldn’t admit it was wrong either, saying, in effect, that he couldn’t find it in himself to condemn that despicable act until gas prices came down.
So conspicuous an example of unembarrassed whataboutisms on behalf of the minority leader is another hint of the deeply dysfunctional state Republicans have descended into. They have learned the lessons of Kellyanne Conway so well that they could now teach her a thing or two about the reprehensible art of changing the subject. In voting “No” Republicans drew a line in the sand saying it was perfectly okay for Gosar to show himself murdering representative Ocasio-Cortez in a photoshopped anime — just as long as the economy isn’t perfect.
Fortunately for the good guys the resolution passed and Gosar has not only been censured but stripped of his two committee assignments. The shameful reality is that, while all Democrats voted “Yes,” only two Republicans — Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney — also voted “Yes.” The vote was followed by a threat: that this process will later be used against Democrats should Republicans reclaim control of the House in 2022.
Unbelievably, about an hour after being censured Gosar retweeted a tweet praising him that also included the controversial video. So not only is he not ashamed of the video, he actually reposted it.
This Republican tit for tat has descended to schoolyard level. It is clear that 2022 is shaping up to be every bit as significant an election as 2020 was. With each passing month Republicans are becoming emboldened in their miserable methods. No act is so shameful that they won’t stoop to it. They have stopped pretending that they live to serve the American people. They now live exclusively to thwart, threaten and subvert the Democrats.
Continuing the schoolyard analogy, Republicans have become bullies. Like all bullies they are cowards. Like all bullies they think that their threats and intimidations when exposed for the gratuitous cruelties that they are, should really be seen as jokes and Democrats have no sense of humor. It is the last refuge of the bully to hide behind humor and blame their victims for not “getting it.” Presumably they are not laughing at us but with us. Right.
The drama that continues in Congress is a microcosm for the country. While the majority of Americans are rational, a not inconsequential minority are irrational and are aiding, abetting and being manipulated by the anti-democratic forces that want to take over the country.
In Republican hands, AOC’s question, “What is so hard about saying that this is wrong?”, has become entirely rhetorical. For Republicans the notion of right and wrong is now dead. Republicans are only interested in power and money, and they will stop at nothing and serve the best interests of no one but themselves in order to win. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.