There is no way for the Republican Party to defend the January 6th insurrection in a manner that doesn’t alienate everyone other than the most diehard MAGA-heads and conspiracy theorists. A violent mob, urged on by a lame-duck president, stormed the halls of our democracy in an effort to overturn a free and fair election. Lacking a compelling means of explaining away this siege but afraid of condemning it too forcefully because it would risk infuriating the GOP base, Republican politicians are largely trying to pretend it didn’t happen.
This turning a blind eye to the worst excesses of their movement isn’t a one-off phenomenon though, as Republicans have been ignoring the radicalization of their party for years. They downplayed the white nationalist elements that propelled Trump to the White House, even after the now-infamous “Unite the Right” rally saw neo-nazis marching through the streets with torches. By refusing to grapple with this wing of their party they’ve allowed it to fester and grow and now far-right militia members can be found at just about every major conservative event.
Over the weekend, members of the radical Oath Keepers militia were spotted at the Texas Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an event that represents the epitome of the so-called Republican establishment. Numerous members of the militia group have already been arrested and charged for their roles in the Capitol insurrection. In other words, they’re exactly the kind of group the GOP should be distancing itself from if it cared one iota about the deadly events of January 6th. Instead, the party is content to let these violent radicals into their tent.
During a segment on CNN today, political commentator Brianna Keilar confronted former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) about the militiamen at CPAC.
“Well, I bet if I went to any number of leftist gatherings I could find a bunch of goofballs as well,” said Pawlenty, deploying a form of whataboutism that has become stock and trade for Republicans trying to force a false equivalency between their party and the Democratic Party.
“Do you know of any?” asked Keilar.
“Well, you know, do I know of militant leftist groups? Just look at what’s happening…” Pawlenty responded.
“I’m saying do you have an actual example of that? I ask you governor because this is an actual example,” said Keilar. “Do you know of an actual example on the left that basically says it’s all the same left and right here?”
“Well, we have all kinds of examples of people who are encouraging violence or behaviors that we would otherwise accept are outside the norm on the left demonstrating that all over the country over this past year,” claimed the former governor.
“But a political conference where a former president is speaking?” Keilar pressed.
“What differences does it make whether it’s in a hotel ballroom or a street corner?” said Pawlenty, clearly stumped and unable to come up with a single example.
Former MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) defends CPAC's embrace of far-right, anti-government militia members: “Well, I bet if I went to any number of leftist gatherings, I could find a bunch of goofballs as well.”@brikeilarcnn: "Do you know of any?" pic.twitter.com/EqqSkY6sME
— The Recount (@therecount) July 12, 2021
We want to hear what YOU have to say. Scroll down and let us know in our NEW comment section!