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Commentary: Plenty of Blame for All in Capitol Fiasco

By David Applegate

Let’s be honest: What happened at the U. S Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, as Republicans began their formalistic but constitutionally sanctioned challenges to the slate of electors in certain of these here United States, was shocking and deplorable but hardly surprising.

After nine months of rioting, looting, and arson in once-major American cities from Portland to Chicago, Minneapolis to San Antonio, and Seattle to Washington, D. C. were often ignored or excused as “mostly peaceful” protests, it’s unsurprising that anger and resentment over the results of the most bitter and unconventional Presidential election in modern U. S. history finally boiled over with a subset of peaceful protesters storming the Capitol itself.

That a nation that only recently held itself up as a shining city on a hill, a refuge for the world’s poor and huddled masses;  and the last, best hope for self-government on earth had fallen so far from its self-proclaimed “peaceful transition of power” is truly devastating.  U.S. friends and neighbors around the world can rightly wonder:  if the United States can no longer hold free and fair elections in which the people have confidence, then what chance, in the end, have they?

It is simply too easy to blame outgoing President Trump and his supporters for the mob scene at the Capitol and resulting deaths so far.  Certainly, an infuriated sitting President of the United States whose largely successful term in office was undermined from the start by an announced and underhanded “resistance” that continues to this day can’t really be expected to “play nice” on his way out the door.  But President Trump didn’t call on his supporters to attack or loot the Capitol; in fact, just the opposite:  he said he loved them and told them to go home.

Many critics who say otherwise are being more than two-faced.  Take, for example, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi – as the old joke has it, please!

At one time Pelosi was a serious if cutthroat politician, a master (mistress?) of counting votes and consolidating power to advance her party’s political and personal agendas.  But of late, the octogenarian ice cream queen leading a charge for a second impeachment of the President would be better shown the door herself.

Second in line behind only the Vice President to succeed to the Presidency, the Speaker of the House is and should be a powerful voice in United States government:  the leader of “the people’s house,” one half of a co-equal branch of government.  Yet since regaining the gavel in 2019, Speaker Pelosi has behaved more like a petulant child.  She strayed from serious leadership when she first toyed with refusing to allow the President to give his State of the Union speech in the House chambers, but nowhere was her petulance more on display than when she tore up her ceremonial copy of the President’s 2020 State of the Union address, which even Vogue magazine called “pure political theater.”  Never mind her petty private hairdresser appointment or her ostentatious display of her ice cream freezer during COVID-19 lockdowns.

After having led – then stalled – a purely partisan and doomed-to-fail impeachment effort leading up to the speech, perhaps the best this President has ever given, in a transparent effort to weaken the President during a re-election year, the Speaker is at it yet again.  His challenges to the election results are illegitimate, she claims, and he cannot be allowed to serve out his last ten days in office because he’s a threat to the Republic. Yet here’s what she said when Democrat lawmakers challenged Ohio’s Republican slate of electors for George W. Bush in 2005:

“Today we are witnessing democracy in at work,” she then intoned.  “This debate is fundamental to our democracy.”  Acknowledging that it would not change the outcome, she nonetheless hailed it as an opportunity to highlight “the real problems” in the U. S. Presidential electoral system: “The members of Congress who have brought this challenge are speaking up for their aggrieved constituents, many of whom may have been disenfranchised in this process.”

Tens of millions of Donald Trump voters have claimed no less, and their concerns should be all our concerns:  left, right, and center.  The United States and self-government itself cannot survive if people do not have faith that legal votes are honestly counted.

All Americans should rightly deplore those protestors who broke into the Capitol.  Fortunately, most of them – unlike Antifa – did not attempt to disguise their identities and many of them have already been identified, arrested, and charged.   But using those attacks as an excuse for impeaching, for the second time in a year, a President who received more votes for re-election than any incumbent President in United States history would be pouring fuel on a dumpster fire.  Instead, our seemingly increasingly unhinged Speaker of the House should, like President Trump himself, take a chill pill and peacefully walk out the door on January 20.

Then perhaps they could sit down and have some ice cream together.  Her treat.

David Applegate
David Applegate is a Chicago-based trial lawyer and partner at the law firm of Williams Montgomery & John Ltd., where he chairs the intellectual property practice group and is a member of the commercial litigation and transportation industry practice groups. He is a policy advisor for legal affairs for The Heartland Institute.

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