Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Updated: Wed, 09 Jun 2021 20:09:39 GMT
Everywhere you look within the Republican Party these days there is an effort to forget -- and minimize -- what happened at the US Capitol on January 6.
A Senate report released this week -- aimed at examining the security failures that led to the riot -- left the word "insurrection" entirely out except when quoting someone using the term. The reason? "Aides also steered clear of language that could turn off some Republicans, including not referring to the attack as an 'insurrection,' " reported CNN.
Republican leaders have insisted that it's time for the country to move on -- and that Democrats' only motivation in pushing for a commission to investigate what happened on January 6 is to score political points.
In the wake of the removal of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from Republican leadership following her condemnation of former President Donald Trump's actions (and inaction) on January 6, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy made just this argument: "The congresswoman has every right to her opinion. But she doesn't have every right to be a leader, and it's clear to me that many House Republicans want to concentrate on the Biden agenda in 2022 and she doesn't want to do that."
Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, the chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee, echoed that sentiment. "Republicans are almost completely unified in a single mission to oppose the radical, dangerous Biden agenda and win back the majority in the midterm election," he said on "Fox News Sunday" last month. "And any other focus other than that is a distraction from stopping the Biden agenda."
Here's the problem with that let's-move-on message: Trump has zero interest in moving on from the 2020 election.
Which is the point that former Virginia Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock made in an op-ed (headline: "My Fellow Republicans, Stop Fearing This Dangerous and Diminished Man") published in The New York Times on Wednesday afternoon.
Here's the key bit:
"Many Republicans want to move on from the Jan. 6 attack. But how is that possible when the former president won't move on from the Nov. 3 election and continues to push the same incendiary lies that resulted in 61 failed lawsuits before Jan. 6, led to an insurrection and could lead to yet more violence?"
Over the weekend, Trump reemerged on the campaign trail in North Carolina with a speech that looked primarily backward. He called the 2020 election the "crime of the century." He compared it to an election held in a third-world country. "What happened to this country in that last election is a disgrace," he said.
And it's not just this most recent speech where Trump has shown his obsession with the past. Here's just a sampling of his statements in recent weeks:
"Great patriots led by State Senator Doug Mastriano, Senator Cris Dush, and State Representative Rob Kauffman went to Maricopa County, Arizona, to learn the best practices for conducting a full Forensic Audit of the 2020 General Election. Now the Pennsylvania Senate needs to act." "North Carolina produced a big victory for us, without a fraudulent outcome—missing ballots, illegal voting, dead people voting, and all of the other Democrat tricks." "Our Country needs [Arizona] Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who has done little so far on Voter Integrity and the 2020 Presidential Election Scam, to step it up—but patriotic Republicans in the State Senate are making up for unelectable RINOs."
So, yeah, he's not over it. In fact, Trump is so not over the 2020 election that he believes the possibility exists that he will be reinstated to the presidency sometime this summer if recounts and audits in places like Maricopa County (Arizona) and Fulton County (Georgia) go his way.
Everybody know this Winston Churchill aphorism: "Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it." And yes, that applies to the current attempted erasure of the severity of what happened on January 6 by Republicans. But twist that aphorism slightly and you get an even more accurate -- and damning -- picture: Those who try to ignore history have to be held accountable when it repeats itself.
Again, Comstock writes eloquently on the effects of this purposeful forgetting by her party:
"The harm is that the lies have metastasized and could threaten public safety again. The U.S. Capitol Police report that threats against members of Congress have increased 107 percent this year."
That's it. Exactly.