GOP: ‘don’t Blame Us; We’re Just Standing Here’

A supporter of President Donald Trump sits inside the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protests inside the U.S. Capito lon Wednesday. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification.

Republicans jettisoned personal responsibility long before fiscal responsibility

By Tony Norman
Pittsburgh PostGazette Columnist

JAN 12, 2021 – Gruesome details of what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 when thousands of deranged followers of President Donald Trump attempted to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory continued to emerge over the weekend.

We now know about the feces that was smeared across the marbled walls and tracked across once pristine floors. We’ve heard the details about one Capitol Hill police officer beaten to death with a fire extinguisher and we’ve seen the footage of other cops being beaten with broken flag poles by a mob that assures us that “Blue Lives Matter” — except when they don’t.

We’ve heard recordings of the chants “hang Mike Pence” and “bring us Nancy [Pelosi]” by a crowd that erected a hanging post just outside the Capitol grounds. The footage of men running around with plastic zip ties, as if they had expected to take hostages, sends chills because they came within minutes of decapitating the legislative branch of the U.S. government.

It is now clear that with the exception of individual acts of valor — including the officer who lured the mob away from the Senate chamber, where members were evacuating — there was a complete breakdown of security. If the bulk of the insurrectionists had been highly trained Jihadists instead of hypedup QAnon crackpots, they would still be wiping the blood from the floor nearly a week later.

On Tuesday in an attempt to assign responsibility for the assault on the Capitol, the House of Representatives introduced a resolution to impeach Donald J. Trump for the second time.

This followed a weekend in which Mr. Trump found his access to social media permanently denied by two billionaires in California because of his penchant for telling lies that foment sedition and undermine American democracy.

Vice President Mike Pence also made it clear that he reserves the right to use the 25th Amendment should Mr. Trump step out of line during his remaining two weeks in office. The PGA and other bastions of corporate America are unilaterally canceling contracts with Mr. Trump’s companies and resorts rather than be smeared by association with the soontobeimpeached and probably indicted former president.

It is all an attempt to hold a man who denies responsibility for anything responsible for the single greatest — if incompetently staged — coup in American history.

The reactions to Mr. Trump’s turn in fortune have been interesting to watch. Those who typically bellow loudest about personal responsibility rarely show an inclination to take it.

As the latest round of “whatabout” politics proved, all the nattering about Jesus, justice and jurisprudence is just virtue signaling by the right wing — a way to distinguish itself from the socalled “woke mob” of the left.

But when it comes to mobs, “woke” or otherwise, the supporters of Donald Trump are now second to none in America’s fractured discourse. They have a body count of four supporters and one dead cop (and another by suicide) to prove it.

While sincere conservatives have gone into the witness protection program, most Republican elected officials haven’t been serious about personal responsibility in years.

The runup to the Iraq War, the criminal incompetence of the government’s response to Katrina and four years of the Trump administration’s moral callousness has all but scrubbed the terms “repentance” and “responsibility” from the GOP playbook.

Pennsylvania is home to a particularly odious brand of hypocritical rightwing populism and politician. Their ridiculous posturing has been especially evident during Mr. Trump’s attempt to disenfranchise our state’s voters and decertify Mr. Biden as the rightful winner of our 20 electoral votes.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, one of Mr. Trump’s most loyal dog soldiers and dedicated rabblerousers, was on the scene when the insurrectionists bumrushed the Capitol, but claims he and his wife left once they realized a “peaceful protest” was turning violent.

Mr. Mastriano takes no responsibility for any chaos that day, despite being listed as one of the “sponsors” of the rally in online ads imploring Americans to descend on Washington to “take our country back.”

Mr. Mastriano and his friend, former GOP state lawmaker Rick Saccone, showed up in each other’s social media feed last week posing and congratulating each other for being on the ground floor of a Trumpinspired revolution. Mr. Saccone posted this on his social media feed: “We are storming the capitol. Our vanguard has broken thru the barricades. We will save this nation. Are u with me?”

Sounds pretty incriminating by any standard, but Mr. Saccone insists he didn’t mean it literally and that he was using a metaphor to refer to peaceful demonstrators breaking through barriers of liberal resistance.

When he was confronted by the media about his previous identification with the seditious Trump mob, Mr. Saccone insists, like Mr. Mastriano, that he was an innocent bystander and hardly noticed what was going on at the Capitol because he was too absorbed in the act of peacefully demonstrating.

Calling it “just a figure of speech kind of thing,” Mr. Saccone doubled down and said “it shouldn’t have happened. It’s a tragedy. It’s a shame it’s being blamed on peaceful people that were there. If I knew what was going to happen, I would not have even went.”

Mr. Saccone lost his job at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, where he taught political science for two decades, because the school can’t risk being identified with an election conspiracy nut who happened to be in D.C. during an attempted coup that ended with the loss of five lives.

To call Mr. Saccone or Mr. Mastriano “liars” would be to debase the term “liar” going forward. They are worse than liars. They gave aid and comfort to those attempting to either disrupt the certification process at Mr. Trump’s behest or overthrow the government if the opportunity presented itself.

Mr. Saccone and Mr. Mastriano may not have smeared feces on the walls of the Capitol like their marauding cohorts, but they certainly lit a match to our Constitution with their false insistence that the election in Pennsylvania was stolen, and that it should be overturned to benefit Mr. Trump’s fight for a second term.

Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican I’ve criticized a few times in recent years for failing to stand up to Mr. Trump, deserves credit for jumping off the crazy train by refusing to vote with many in his caucus to reject the certification of the Biden victory. In response to the coup attempt, Mr. Toomey also called on Mr. Trump to resign from office — one of the few voices in the Republicancontrolled Senate to do so.

It’s interesting to note that despite last Wednesday’s coup attempt, eight Pennsylvania Republicans still voted to disenfranchise the state’s voters to benefit a seditious president who will leave office in disgrace either days sooner than planned or on Jan. 20.

Mr. Trump will never take responsibility for his actions. As far as his enablers in Pennsylvania are concerned, that’s fine with them.

Tony Norman: tnorman@postgazette.com or 4122631631. Twitter @Tony_NormanPG.

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