Calmes: GOP, spare us the bothsides-ism when it comes to the Pelosi attack

LOL, GOOP? For real?

What could possibly better illustrate how sick the Republican Party has become, how perversely tolerant, and thus encouraging, of political violence it has become, than members’ laugh-out-loud jokes over the past week — Next Social mediaat campaign rallies — over the bludgeoning of an 82-year-old man married to the much-maligned Democrat who is Speaker of the House?

Spotted portrait illustration of Jackie Calmes

opinion columnist

Jackie Calmes

Jackie Calmes takes a critical look at the national political scene. She has decades of experience reporting on the White House and Congress.

Expressions of genuine sorrow for Paul Pelosi from Republican leaders — statements not followed by “But, what about…?” – are few and far between. Even rarer are denunciations by other Republicans, from instigator Donald Trump down, whose rhetoric encourages such violence. More common, including from members of Congress, were punch lines at Pelosi’s expense: homophobic jokes, comments about sending Nancy Pelosi back to San Francisco for good, and mockery of the “hippie nudist from Berkeley” who fractured her husband’s skull.

Reps Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, who have received their own death threats for their anti-Trump apostasy, are again exceptions to the rule. After the October 28 attack, Kinzinger quickly tweeted that it “reflects a dangerous reality promoted by some members of my own party”. On CNNHe said: “The idea that you can radicalize a significant part of this country and not expect that to happen is unrealistic.”

As a matter of fact. Message to Republicans: Take responsibility. If you do not strongly condemn violence and those who promote it, you are complicit. When a suspected attacker parrots right-wing conspiracy theories to justify attempted murder, you face your party’s problem.

And spare us the whataboutism and Bothsidesism.

Yes, conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh was threatened in June by a California gunman who was arrested outside Kavanaugh’s home. Yes, Democratic Senate Chairman Charles E. Schumer made a vile comment at a 2020 abortion rights rally about how Kavanaugh and Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, another Trump-appointed representative, are “paying the price.” would for their opposition to Roe vs. Wade. And yes, five years ago, a supporter of Liberal Senator Bernie Sanders shot Republican congressmen practicing baseball, seriously injuring Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

However, study after study after study has shown that right-wing extremists account for the overwhelming share of domestic violence and that threats have skyrocketed in the years since Trump entered national politics.

“What we’re seeing in our data and others,” says Garen Wintemute, director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, “is that support for political violence is more common among Republicans than Democrats and more common among MAGA Republicans than other Republicans.” ‘ Political leaders’ failure to control provocative rhetoric creates what he calls ‘a climate of acceptance’.

“Silence is consent here,” Wintemute told me.

U.S. Capitol Police reported 9,625 threats against members of Congress in 2021, significantly more than double the 2017 figure. Between January 2020 and mid-September this year — amid the right-wing conspiracy over voting, pandemic measures, and alleged racist and pro-LGBTQ indoctrination in Schools – Hundreds of local election, health and education officials reported harassment in 43 states. Both the IRS and FBI have tightened security; their agents are in the right crosshair while Republicans falsely claim that Democrats are hiring 87,000 tax officers to screen middle-income taxpayers and confiscate their guns, and while Trump rails against the “raid” on Mar-a-Lago to seize government documents he stole .

Both Sites promote violence? That claim sounds as bogus as Trump’s vile statement in August 2017 that “both sides” were to blame after a white supremacist drove through a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters and killed a woman at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Only one side of our political system is led by a human mouthpiece for conspiracy theories and inhuman rhetoric. Only one is populated with other “leaders” who do not oppose Trump or who actually feed on him. Not only are Democrats trading far less provocative rhetoric overall, they are usually quick to condemn their own, even a leader. Schumer, who faced backlash from both Democrats and Republicans for his reckless comment on the Supreme Court justices, expressed remorse in the Senate the next day.

Compare that to how the Republican Party apparatus responded to the Pelosi attack.

Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel simply stuck with the message — that is, the Republican campaign message blaming Democrats for crimes. “Violence is going on across the board,” she said dismissively on Fox News, as if attacked by a man shouting “Where’s Nancy?” was random. She then resorted to Whatabout-ing and falsely claimed, “Joe Biden didn’t talk about the assassination of Brett Kavanaugh.” (The Fox News headline at the time? “Biden condemns actions of a gunman arrested near Kavanaugh’s home became …” )

Unfortunately, the hammer blows against Paul Pelosi mark a fitting bookend for a two-year convention that began with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, when hordes also demanded “Where’s Nancy?” Republicans have refused to reckon with this unprecedented assault on democracy and have remained silent as Trump vowed to pardon the “patriots” if he becomes president again. It’s no wonder, then, that armed vigilante groups from Trump’s conscientious objection camp have recently felt free to harass early voters and campaign workers.

And yet control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate could fall to Republicans as political and economic forces lash out hard against Democrats.

The new Speaker of the House could soon be Rep. “My Kevin” McCarthy, who once joked about bringing a gavel – the Speaker’s gavel – to Nancy Pelosi. McCarthy declined to make a vocal public statement of sympathy for the Pelosi, as Nancy Pelosi had made after Scalise’s shooting. Instead, he waited to be asked about the attack by friendly interviewers, combining perfunctory denunciations with references to Kavanaugh and Scalise. He was silent about other Republicans screwing it up.

If the Republicans take over, it will only get worse. Not only will the House of Representatives include more MAGA Republicans, but McCarthy has promised that as Speaker he would restore committee assignments Democrats stripped of Republican Representatives Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene for their comments endorsing violence against Democrats.

And this is no joke. I wish it would be like this.

@jackiekcalmes Calmes: GOP, spare us the bothsides-ism when it comes to the Pelosi attack

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