You mean to sit here and tell me that when President Donald Trump spent months fueling the lie that only fraud and theft could make him lose the election, pressuring elected officials to overturn the results of the vote, cheering and encouraging people who undertook acts of violence in his name … he should not have done that? That was … bad? The kind of thing that, if someone did it, you might want to be able to bar them from ever holding office again? Deeply, deeply inappropriate and furthermore anti-democratic in a fundamental and terrifying way?
*Begins to sweat* Ah, and hypothetically if somebody were to, say — not naming any names — if somebody else who were an elected official were to have done something, say, similar … not like in degree, but like in kind, that would also have been bad? Let’s say this guy, let’s call him Warco, he expressed support for the very same caravan of drivers trying to force a Biden-Harris bus off the road? Would that also have been, ah, not preferred?
Acting as if you are only accountable to the people who voted for you is, we are saying now … bad? So if someone did that, hypothetically, on Thursday, people — people wouldn’t have wanted that?
Or if a person were to sort of pump his fist in solidarity as he saw the mob of insurrectionists descending on the Capitol, that would have been the kind of thing we don’t want, say?
You’re really going to hold Donald Trump responsible for the acts of the people who were responding to his call to “stop the steal”? Woof! I mean, golly! I mean, it seems like we’re really throwing out some babies with all this bathwater. If you start condemning Trump for the consequences of his words — well, yikes! Next, you’ll probably be sweeping up the other people whose words also contributed to the same consequence!
I’m just — whoo! hot in here! — where do you stop, you know? It seems like one of those very slippery slopes I keep hearing about! If you demand consequences for one person who self-servingly sought to undermine the results of a democratic election and gave cover to people who were using that lie to justify acts of violence, then next, you’re going to be demanding consequences for other people who also did that? And then — I mean, a lot of good guys who only sought to undermine our system of government no more than, like, four times MAX are going to face pressure to not be in office any more. And I think the Senate would be poorer for it. I know I would be.
I mean hypothetically, just hypothetically, if someone were to stand up in the Senate and object to the certification of the electoral college results, lending credence to the very same lie that motivated the mob to overrun the Capitol — we would also be saying that person was responsible in some direct way for the mob? I mean, are we really saying there ought to be consequences? That seems like a little much to me! I mean, if we’re saying that, I’ve … made some mistakes.
Read more from Alexandra Petri: