It was all there right in front of their eyes for everyone to see.
It was there on January 6th when a mob of misguided and misled Trump supporters marched from the site of his inciting speech to begin a violent insurrection in the Capitol Building.
It was all there on the incriminating video that Democratic impeachment managers played at the launch of the disgraced former leader’s trial.
Yet, there are still some who can’t bring themselves to believe what in their hearts they simply don’t want to believe.
Count Michigan Republican state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey among this group of reality deniers.
As recently as last week, Shirkey told the leaders of the Hillsdale County Republican Party — a group that was discussing censuring this leading member of the GOP in the state senate because they felt that he hadn’t supported Donald Trump sufficiently — that the entire insurrection was a hoax invented and organized by Democrats and Antifa.
It wasn’t just the opposition party in on the planning of the false flag operation in Shirkey’s view.
The then-Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), was “part of” the fake riot according to the seemingly delusional state party leader.
“I think they wanted to have a mess,” Shirkey said. “They would have had to recruit this other group of people.”
Shirkey’s comments were confirmed by a video of the meeting between him and the Hillsdale County GOP officials which took place at a local diner.
“That wasn’t Trump’s people. That’s been a hoax from day one. That was all prearranged,” Shirkey is seen telling the group looking to censure him. “It was arranged by somebody who was funding it. … It was all staged.”
“I think there are people above elected officials,” Shirkey said in a nod to every anti-Semitic conspiracy theory know to man. “There are puppeteers.”
One should also note the casual misogyny inherent in Shirkey’s reference to “spanking” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) over her COVID prevention restrictions in their state.
Whether Shirkey really believed the tin foil hat conspiracy theory that he was promulgating or merely trying to head off the damage that a censure by the Hillsdale County party leaders would bring to right-wing extremist bona fides is difficult to determine, but once you make accusations this far outside the realm of the plausible, you kind of have to own it.
When confronted with the video evidence of his ludicrous claims, Majority Leader Shirkey apologized for his “insensitive comments” without ever acknowledging their falsity.
“I said some things in a videoed conversation that are not fitting for the role I am privileged to serve. I own that,” Shirkey said. “I have many flaws. Being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue are at least two of them. I regret the words I chose, and I apologize for my insensitive comments.”
Despite the apparently insincere apology, Shirkey was caught on a hot mic essentially undermining his apology by saying that he didn’t actually retract any of the points he made, just the way he phrased them.
Full quote from SML Mike Shirkey: "I frankly don't take back any of the points I was trying to make. Some of the words I chose I do regret."
With regard to the U.S. capitol riot: "The FBI is going to identify here within the next couple weeks who was actually behind it." https://t.co/d5lHCXbhF5
— Simon D. Schuster (@Simon_Schuster) February 10, 2021
Whether passion, stupidity, or mendacity (or a combination of all three) were the primary reasons for this Michigan GOP leader’s lapse into fictional territory, Shirkey’s comments simply show the desperation of Republicans when their failing ideology is rejected by the overwhelming majority of Americans.
Their denialism is a sure formula for the eventual repeat of the events of January 6th, but perhaps with higher stakes and higher casualties.
They must be made to recognize that this is unacceptable in civilized society.
The best way to send that message is to ensure that Donald Trump is held accountable for his crimes, first by being convicted in his impeachment trial, followed by his criminal prosecution in both federal and state courts.
Original reporting by Steve Neavling at The Detroit Metro Times.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.