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Monday, December 11, 2023
Dec. 11, 2023

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Jayne: Trump fans can’t handle the truth

By , Columbian Opinion Page Editor

The choice, it seems, should be easy.

You can support a president who fires up his supporters and urges them to march on the U.S. Capitol. Who trashes the Constitution for his own benefit. Who refuses to provide assistance when police are overrun as those supporters invade a citadel of American democracy.

You can look the other way and ignore the president’s culpability in a riot that left five people dead, trashed the Capitol and sent elected representatives running for cover. And you can ignore his role in perpetrating one of the darkest days in American history, a day in which our government was attacked by domestic terrorists.

Or you can hold that president accountable through the constitutionally prescribed remedy of impeachment, acknowledging the truth of his guilt in the whole sorry episode.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler chose truth on Wednesday, being one of 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives to vote for impeachment of a president from her own party.

“I’m not willing to ignore the Constitution for any person or any party,” Herrera Beutler said Friday in a phone interview. “I abided by my oath in holding the president to his oath.”

In a statement the night before the impeachment vote, and again on the floor of the House prior to the vote, Herrera Beutler effectively articulated her reasoning.

“The president of the United States incited a riot aiming to halt the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. That riot led to five deaths …,” she said. “Hours went by before the president did anything meaningful to stop the attack. Instead, he and his lawyer were busy making calls to senators who were still in lockdown, seeking their support to further delay the Electoral College certification.”

All of which, it seems, would lead to an easy choice to vote for impeachment.

And yet the fallout provides a sad commentary on American politics and, to be honest, the modern Republican Party. Because the party of “personal responsibility” and “family values” and “America first” has embraced situational ethics.

Herrera Beutler has been rebuked by the Clark County Republican Women organization, which is led by former state representative Liz Pike and current Clark County Councilor Karen Bowerman. And she has faced pointed questions from constituents and other Republicans.

“As I’m talking to people out in the district,” Herrera Beutler said, “I am astounded — astounded! — by the lack of information. That’s the No. 1 thing that needs to happen — to help people understand the truth. The president violated his oath of office when he didn’t try to stop it.”

The truth is that radicals roamed the halls looking for elected officials to assassinate. Think about that; Trump did nothing more than watch on TV while his supporters ransacked the United States Capitol, and some Republicans are OK with that. They try to blame antifa, despite having no evidence; they suggest that Trump has done a lot of good, so what’s a little insurrection?; and they say that there were riots in U.S. cities all summer and nobody did anything about it.

All of which is several metric tons worth of cognitive dissonance. Spinning lies or praising the selection of judges or employing “whataboutism” has nothing to do with what happened 11 days ago in the U.S. Capitol. Antifa has yet to try overthrowing the United States government; no, it took Trump supporters, egged on by the charlatan in chief, to do that.

Trump spent 70 minutes telling the crowd things like, “you’ll never take back our country with weakness” and “we will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about” and “you have to get your people to fight,” wrapping it all in countless lies about election fraud. And then he failed to act when that crowd invaded the Capitol.

All of which has earned praise for Herrera Beutler during an era when rebuking your own president amounts to political courage. Instead, that should be an easy choice.

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