“There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.” — John Heywood, 1546.
The response of two Wyoming officials to President Donald Trump inciting a riot at the Capitol last Wednesday is delusional, dishonest and disturbing.
As security escorted her out after violent Trump backers stormed the building, Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) questioned who was responsible for the attack.
“I hope it’s not Trump supporters that are involved in the mayhem,” she reportedly told a Capitol Hill reporter. “In my previous experience with these Trump supporters, they have been peaceful demonstrators, happy people, very patriotic, pro-America, and I feel like other forces like Antifa were advocating violence.”
“So if that has changed, I will be heartbroken,” she added.
Well, many of the rioters looked happy, especially the guy wearing a horned fur hat and brandishing a spear as he posed at the Senate dais. He was later identified as Jake Angeli, a QAnon supporter and fixture at Trump rallies in Arizona.
In case Lummis missed it, during his failed campaign, the president refused to denounce QAnon, a conspiracy group that believes a vast network of Democratic politicians and Hollywood actors are part of a global cabal of pedophiles. Adherents believe Trump is waging a secret war against these Satan worshippers, so he must remain in power at all costs.
Trump also refused to criticize the Proud Boys, a hate group that openly advocates violence and white supremacy. During a September debate with President-elect Joe Biden, he infamously told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
They stood by, alright, announcing in December plans to wreak havoc in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 — the day Congress was scheduled to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory.
After the insurrection, a Proud Boy bragged on the group’s Telegram social media page.
“For several hours, our collective strength had politicians in Washington in absolute terror,” he wrote. “The treacherous pawns [cops] were also terrified.”
These self-proclaimed terrorists are not “very patriotic, pro-America” people, and everyone at the Capitol knew it well before the invasion.
On that day, Lummis was busy getting ready to challenge the election results in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, so she probably didn’t hear the president’s incendiary speech live before the riot. But she surely watched it on the news.
Trump urged the crowd to march on the Capitol building and repeated his lies about how the election was “stolen” from him. “You’ll never take back your country with weakness,” he said. “You have to show strength, and you have to be strong. … If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
As the mob complied, Trump defended the destruction left in its wake. “These are the things that happen when a sacred landslide is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he tweeted.
In an unbelievable video address, he told the rioters: “We love you. You’re very special.”
On Twitter, Lummis wrote that “an attack on the Capitol is an attack on democracy.” But she never mentioned Trump’s involvement, or her own effort to subvert democracy by joining a dozen other senators to try to overturn the election in his favor.
Instead, Lummis performed an amazing flip-flop-flip-flop on her first day at her new job. First flip: The senator initially said she would respect the process and that Biden won the election.
First flop: Then she joined what many aptly dubbed the “sedition caucus,” which planned to postpone the Electoral College’s certification until an independent commission examined what scores of judges declared to be baseless claims of fraud in battleground states.
Second flip: After the riot, Congress decided to vote on only two of the grievances. Lummis broke with her sedition counterparts, including leaders Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), by voting against the Arizona challenge.
Final flop: Lummis voted in favor of an objection to Biden’s win in Pennsylvania. Despite claims that she’s a proponent of states’ rights, Lummis suddenly wants to disenfranchise millions of voters in a state that conducted a free and fair election.
Fortunately, two-thirds of Wyoming’s congressional delegation denounced the attempted coup. Rep. Liz Cheney, who has voted with Trump’s positions 95% of the time, lambasted him on Fox News. “There’s no question that the president formed the mob. The president incited the mob, the president addressed the mob,” she charged. “He lit the flame.”
Until the day of the riots, Sen. John Barrasso had been an unwavering Trump sycophant, but the violence was too much even for him. “Allowing certified electoral votes to be counted is my sworn duty,” he said in a statement. “In Wyoming, we pride ourselves on being guardians of the Constitution.” Barrasso voted against both the Arizona and Pennsylvania challenges.
The two lawmakers struck the right notes in a time of crisis. Their words stand in stark contrast to a tone-deaf statement issued by Frank Eathorne, chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party, who travelled to D.C. to participate in the protests.
Eathorne didn’t see anything amiss when he attended what he described as the “peaceful protest” near the White House to listen to Trump. “No violence or property damage was observed during my time there including a brief stop in the vicinity of the Capitol building property,” according to Eathorne.
OK, maybe he missed the riots. But Eathorne must have seen it on TV like the rest of us, right? Wasn’t he outraged?
Apparently not. “I retired from the public gathering near mid-afternoon and watched the news of some reported events I personally had not witnessed,” Eathorne stated. “The president’s statement tonight urging peace and love is the right course of action.”
“Some reported events?” Does Eathorne, who led the state GOP’s move to the far-right, think one of the most shameful events in America’s history is just another example of “fake news?”
I guess he missed the videos of thugs smashing windows and doors, running through the Capitol corridors and chambers with weapons, ransacking lawmakers’ desks and trashing offices. Some police officers posed for selfies with these criminals!
The Wyoming GOP invited Charlie Kirk, president of the ultra-conservative Turning Point USA, to speak at the state party’s convention last year. Kirk promised that Trump would easily win a second term against “Sleepy Joe” Biden and even proclaimed he’ll occupy the White House far more than eight years.
Perhaps Eathorne should ask the leader of the Proud Boys to address the next convention. Heck, why not book Angeli, the furry-horned activist who stole the show at the riot by posing for photos behind Vice President Mike Pence’s desk, his face painted red, white and blue? He calls himself the “QAnon Shaman.”
Eathorne can pretend he’s blind to the violence in D.C., and deaf to Trump’s role in it.
But Mr. Chairman, don’t insult our intelligence by claiming Trump was preaching about “peace and love.” Neither were anywhere in sight at the Capitol rampage.
If you can’t understand that, maybe rational members of your party — the ones you always disparage as RINOS [Republicans in Name Only] — should teach you that lesson by peacefully dethroning you at the next state GOP election of officers.