McCarthy, who experienced an initial spasm of patriotism and honesty in January when he admitted that the failed Republican nominee “bears responsibility” for the attack, quickly reverted to form. He voted against impeachment and supported the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her leadership position in the Republican Party because she had the temerity to insist her party stop lying about the election results and hold the instigator in chief responsible for his assault on democracy. McCarthy subsequently opposed a Jan. 6 bipartisan commission, and he refuses to take action against those in his party who lie about the severity and purpose of the attempted coup.
McCarthy’s appointment of Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Jim Banks of Indiana and Troy E. Nehls of Texas to the select committee (as well as Republicans Rodney Davis of Illinois and Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota) is par for the course for McCarthy. Jordan, Banks and Nehls all voted to overthrow the election results on Jan. 6, further evidence of McCarthy’s spineless adoption of Trumpian lies and authoritarianism. (Remember: A vote for a Republican for the House in 2022 is a vote to install Donald Trump’s pawn, McCarthy, as speaker and empower him to overturn the 2024 election results if they again show a Democratic winner.)
Banks immediately proved his unfitness for this position with a written rant declaring, “If Democrats were serious about investigating political violence, this committee would be studying not only the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, but also the hundreds of violent political riots last summer when many more innocent Americans and law-enforcement officers were attacked. … Make no mistake, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda.” Pelosi has every right to reject his appointment; Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) would be an excellent substitute.
The appointment of these unserious and unhinged MAGA members may be a great way for McCarthy to endear himself to his party’s cult leader, but once again, he might be doing his members no favors. Consider that a recent CBS poll showed 72 percent of Americans think there is more to learn about the insurrection. Moreover, 67 percent think it was an attempt to “overturn the election and keep Donald Trump in power.” The vast majority of Americans who understand the threat posed by the insurrection will now see the GOP’s reaction as mocking, disruptive, dishonest and contemptuous of the lives of law enforcement and of democracy itself.
The three members who tried to subvert our democracy will properly be seen as the face of the Trumpian Republican Party. One can only imagine them becoming the favorite faces in Democratic ads for the 2022 cycle: “Do you trust these people to defend our democracy?”
Specifically, the antics of the GOP members on the commission will be a vivid reminder to “Red Dogs” — those who traditionally identify as Republican but voted for President Biden in 2020 — as to why their former party cannot be entrusted with power. Some 74 percent of Republicans still strongly or somewhat disapprove of the Jan. 6 rioters, according to the CBS poll. What are they to make of their former party’s shenanigans in downplaying the event, attempting to turn the commission into an inquest on its intended victims (including Pelosi, who was an intended target of the MAGA insurrectionists) and continuing to defend the former president who set the assault’s wheels in motion? One would hope it will be enough to persuade them to extend their sojourn in the Democratic coalition.
Ironically, the select committee will start hearings just as the first of the insurrections face sentencing for their crimes. Several have already candidly admitted they came to the Capitol with the intent to overthrow the government, believing they were doing Trump’s bidding. Meanwhile, the likes of Jordan and others have insisted this was much ado about nothing, the work of antifa or Pelosi’s fault. The Republicans’ antics may be infuriating, but their performance will go a long way toward cementing the Republican Party’s identity as a compulsively dishonest, anti-democratic party.
UPDATE: Pelosi on Wednesday rejected both Jordan and Banks, prompting McCarthy to withdraw his three other appointees. Apparently only one side considers an investigation into an attempted insurrection to be of sufficient seriousness to review free from provocateurs and proponents of the “big lie.”