After the attacks on our nation on Sept. 11, 2001, suppose that members of Congress had said, “We’ve suffered enough. Let’s not bother investigating this”? I think Americans would have been outraged.
Instead, there was a bipartisan commission that worked for two years, interviewed more than 1,200 people in 10 countries and eventually released a report of 592 pages. We learned many things, among them that if the CIA and FBI had only communicated with each other, the attacks might have been prevented and 2,977 lives might have been spared.
On Jan. 6, 2021, our nation was attacked again — this time by a brutal insurrection aimed specifically at disrupting the peaceful transfer of power, which is the proudest hallmark of our democracy.
This time, however, Republican leaders have officially announced that they are not interested in finding out anything about what happened. “Let’s not rehash the past,” they cry. “It is time to move on.”
In other words, nothing to see here. No need to find out how this happened.
That says to me that they already know. With no outrage at all.
I would say that this is all quite mind-boggling — except that so many mind-boggling things have already happened in the past few years that my mind is just not capable of “boggling” any further.
In fact, my situation is so bad I have started taking the things politicians say at face value!
Take, for instance, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s statement back in March about the insurrectionist mob. “I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned,” he told a conservative radio show host.
Many people were outraged at Johnson’s characterization of the mob as law-abiding and benign. But what has always interested me more is the rest of his point.
“Now, had the tables been turned — this could get me in trouble — had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned,” the Wisconsin senator said.
So much to unpack here. For one thing, Johnson was tacitly admitting that President Trump did, in fact, lose the election (something you now get purged from leadership for saying — just ask Liz Cheney).
He’s also admitting that bottom line he had no fear of the insurrectionists, because they were “his” people. (Although a wiser man would fear any mob of that size, even a supposedly friendly one, because mayhem too often happens.)
So Johnson knew these weren’t Black Lives Matter protesters.
But suppose they were? Do you think that the Republicans in Congress would still be so blasé, so unconcerned, so completely uninterested in finding out what happened?
I think we’d see some outrage.
We know they’re capable of it when it serves their purpose. Take, for example, their reaction to an attack on a consular office in Benghazi, Libya. Congress conducted one bi-partisan investigation, while the FBI and State Department had another one each. But House Republicans insisted on six more — after which then-Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy got into trouble for telling the truth:
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”
There is a third truth-teller I need to quote.
After the same Kevin McCarthy tried to defeat an investigation of the insurrection, it passed the House anyway with 35 Republican votes.
Democrat Tim Ryan of Ohio said:
“I want to thank…Republicans who are supporting this and thank them for their bipartisanship. To the other 90 percent of our friends on the other side of the aisle, holy cow…Benghazi, you guys chased the former secretary of state all over the country, spent millions of dollars. We have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol Police with lead pipes across the head, and we can’t get bipartisanship.”
Ryan continued, “If we’re going to take on China, if we’re going to rebuild the country, if we’re going to reverse climate change, we need two political parties in this country that are both living in reality, and you ain’t one of them.”
The truth is we should all be worried—and outraged.