As many reflect on the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, there isn’t a single, unified Republican message, though as NBC News noted, the GOP seems quite concerned about Democrats exploiting the insurrectionist riot.
A year ago, while Republican lawmakers tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election by blocking the certification of the results, President Donald Trump incited a mob to storm the Capitol in an effort to obtain the same objective. Now, with official Washington observing the anniversary, Republicans are accusing Democrats of politicizing the attack and blaming them for what the GOP describes as lax Capitol security.
These accusations reached a new level this morning, after President Joe Biden delivered a forceful speech that condemned “a defeated former president” and his “web of lies.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina whined soon after that the Democrat had engaged in “brazen politicization of January 6.”
Part of the problem with this is the lazy overuse of the word “politicization.”
This comes up quite a bit in the wake of deadly mass shootings. As Democrats and their allies respond to the deaths by calling for policy changes intended to save lives, Republicans tend to respond, “No, no, you’re not allowed to say things like that. Politicizing tragedies is wrong.”
It’s rhetoric intended to shut down debate and stand in the way of accountability — just as we’re seeing this morning.
The Jan. 6 attack wasn’t an accident; it was a political event. A politician publicly urged his political followers to come to the nation’s capital, where he delivered a political speech and dispatched his supporters to our seat of government, where a violent mob attempted to derail a political process as politicians fled for their safety.
It may make Graham feel better to think Jan. 6 was some kind of apolitical occurrence, but it was not. One cannot “politicize” that which is inherently political.
Complicating matters is the degree to which the South Carolinian is a poor messenger for this message.
It was nearly six years ago when Graham wrote, “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed … and we will deserve it.” In the years that followed, the GOP senator abandoned any sense of pride and became a Trump sycophant.
A year ago today, however, Graham appeared to feel differently. “Trump and I, we’ve had a hell of a journey,” the senator said after the riot. “I hate it to end this way. Oh my God, I hate it…. All I can say, is count me out, enough is enough.” He added at the time, “We’ve got to end it. Vice President Pence, what they’re asking you to do you won’t do, because you can’t…. [Biden] won. He’s the legitimate President to the United States.”
A day later, the Republican lawmaker went on to say, “When it comes to accountability, [Trump] needs to understand that his actions were the problem not the solution.”
Two weeks later, Graham helped find a new lawyer for Trump’s second impeachment trial. The day after Trump left the White House, Graham ran to Fox News to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the pro-Trump violence.
On the anniversary of the attack, perhaps the senator should take this opportunity to enjoy a little quiet time.