Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is no squishy moderate. He is a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment conservative. Nevertheless, he is not a quivering sycophant who fears the former president and his rabid base, which is why his response to a member of his party’s outrageous conduct makes House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s spinelessness even less excusable.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) told a racist story — and a lie to boot — about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The Post reported:

During an event in her Colorado district, Boebert told the audience about an encounter with Omar in the Capitol, describing another encounter with Omar as “not my first ‘Jihad Squad’ moment,” according to a video posted on Twitter.
“I was getting into an elevator with one of my staffers,” Boebert told the laughing crowd. “You know, we’re leaving the Capitol and we’re going back to my office and we get an elevator and I see a Capitol police officer running to the elevator. I see fret all over his face, and he’s reaching, and the door’s shutting, like I can’t open it, like what’s happening. I look to my left, and there she is. Ilhan Omar. And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine.’”

This is not the first instance in which Boebert has revealed her bigotry. (She’s also not shy about implying violence when describing Democrats.) She is perfectly at home in today’s GOP seeking to conserve and elevate White power as it displays open Islamophobia — including fearmongering over Afghan refugees — along with misogyny and xenophobia.

Boebert issued a semi-apology “to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment” — an empty sentiment that leaves the onus of the apology on those she insulted, not on her. She naturally omitted any condemnation of Islamophobia. Omar has asked for Boebert to be disciplined, and Democratic leaders condemned Boebert’s remarks. “Leader McCarthy and the entire House Republican Leadership’s repeated failure to condemn inflammatory and bigoted rhetoric from members of their conference is outrageous,” they said in a written statement. “We call on the Republican Leadership to address this priority with the Congresswoman and to finally take real action to confront racism.”

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They shouldn’t hold their breath. McCarthy’s written statement indicated no disapproval, let alone condemnation of his member’s vile remarks.

Enter Hutchinson on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday:

DANA BASH: House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy finally released a statement about this yesterday he said. He called Boebert, encouraged her to meet with Omar, but notably did not publicly condemn what she said.
And he's actually never publicly condemned Congressman Paul Gosar for tweeting an animated video of himself killing a Democratic congresswoman.
So do you think McCarthy should be publicly condemning this kind of behavior?
HUTCHINSON: I do.
I think whenever, even in our own caucus, our own members, if they go the wrong direction, I mean, it has to be called out. It has to be dealt with, particularly whenever it is breaching the civility, whenever it is crossing the line in terms of violence or increasing the divide in our country.
So, one of the things that's really important to us in the future is increasing the civil debate and civil discourse. And we have got to look for ways that we can bring people together, and not divide, and certainly along racial lines.
I think this last week, our justice system gave two very good verdicts that indicated that we can hold people accountable whenever they go after somebody because of their race or whatever, they take the law into their own hands.
So, let’s look for ways that we bring people together, and let’s decrease that divide.

One might disagree with his take on the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, but Hutchinson evidences a fundamental level of decency and responsible leadership that should be expected of any elected leader. It should not be so hard for a House minority leader to show some degree of spine and set a minimal level of acceptable conduct for his members.

McCarthy has done neither. He has consistently groveled before former president Donald Trump, fearing the wrath of his radicalized base. After Trump instigated a insurrection, McCarthy went to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring of the former president. He sunk the bipartisan commission to investigate the violence on Jan. 6. He supported the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from House GOP leadership for the sin of speaking truth about the insurrection. He refused to discipline Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and voted against removing her from committees for spreading racist conspiracy theories. And he failed to rebuke Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) for an animation depicting Gosar murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

The behavior we routinely see from Republicans and McCarthy’s toleration of the same would result in the termination of virtually any employee from any employer, public or private, other than those in the MAGA world. Republicans’ conduct certainly should be grounds for termination of employment — by the voters at the next election. That it barely raises an eyebrow shows how the media and public have lowered expectations of Republicans.

Hutchinson demonstrates that one need not be a cultist follower of Trump nor a pawn of the MAGA base to govern effectively and remain a staunch conservative. That so few Republicans have been willing to challenge the party line speaks to the degree to which they have debased public office.

Other than a few voices of reason and decency, (e.g., Hutchinson, Cheney, Rep. Adam Kinzinger), elected Republicans — including voters — have watched the decline of their party into thuggery, bigotry and conspiracy theories. If they wanted something different for their party, they would demand it; if they wanted to return to a “normal” party with minimal standards of conduct, it would have happened long ago. They have facilitated the transformation of the GOP into a dumpster fire party. It is up to the rest of the country to douse the flames lit by the former arsonist-in-chief.