The January 6 Commission will be All-Democratic

A chance for a real investigation? Ruined legitimacy?

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s five nominations for the committee investigating the Capitol riots that attempted to stop the counting of the Electoral College vote, Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). McCarthy responded by withdrawing the other three Republicans from the commission. The reactions to this news are, not surprisingly, bifurcated.

[UPDATE: Despite the two pieces below, it appears Liz Cheney intends to remain on the committee in defiance of McCarthy. If she does, there is talk of stripping her of her committee assignments and membership in the caucus. So, even if she does, the committee would effectively be all-Democratic—or at least lack any Republicans in good standing.]

WaPo columnists Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman (“How Kevin McCarthy is boosting the integrity of the Jan. 6 investigation“) are pleased.

We should be thankful that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) just pulled Republicans out of any involvement in the select committee to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection. In so doing, he ensured that the committee’s investigation will both have more integrity and be more likely to undertake a valuable accounting.

Which goes to a larger truth about this moment: Efforts at a real examination of arguably the worst outbreak of political violence in modern times — and efforts to protect our democracy more broadly — will not be bipartisan. These things will be done by Democrats alone.

[…]

McCarthy mustered great outrage about this, railing that it was an “abuse of power” that had cost the committee “all legitimacy and credibility.”

In fact, precisely the opposite is true: By pulling out, McCarthy has boosted the committee’s legitimacy and credibility immeasurably. The less involved McCarthy is with this committee, the more likely it will be to undertake a genuine and comprehensive accounting.

McCarthy’s picks were expressly designed to prevent that accounting. This is not speculation or a mere guess at McCarthy’s motives. It is unavoidably clear from the public statements and conduct of Banks and Jordan themselves.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza (“Nancy Pelosi just doomed the already tiny chances of the 1/6 committee actually mattering“) takes the opposite view:

If you ever held any hope that the House select committee on the January 6 US Capitol riot might produce a report that would help us understand what happened in the lead-up to that day and, in so doing, provide us avenues to keeping it from happening again, you should give up on those hopes now.

[…]

No matter Pelosi’s reasoning, her decision to reject Jordan and Banks, the two most high-profile Republicans put forward by McCarthy, dooms even the possibility of the committee being perceived as bipartisan or its eventual findings being seen as independent.

Pelosi and her Democratic defenders will cast the decision as the only one she really had available to her after McCarthy made his picks known earlier this week.And it’s beyond debate that McCarthy’s choices — especially Banks and Jordan — were aimed at turning the committee into something of a circus. Both men would have, at every turn, sought to turn the tables on Democrats — using the platform provided by the committee to push debunked claims about Antifa’s involvement in the Capitol riot, questioning Democratic leadership’s readiness for just such an attack and trying to broaden the committee’s mandate to cover the Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020.Knowing this, Pelosi’s move is rightly understood as robbing Republicans of that platform. But it also dooms the committee — before it even holds a single hearing or meeting.

The problem with both arguments is that they assume the committee had any hope of coming up with a comprehensive picture of the events of that day that will be perceived as legitimate. If one holds that assumption, I don’t see how Pelosi had any choice. Banks and, especially, Jordan are clowns who have made no bones about their contempt for the process or the truth. McCarthy’s selection of them was a big Fuck You to the investigation and received the response he had to know was coming.

Given that former President Trump is the de facto target of the investigation and that it is coming in a Democratic-led House, it is going to be seen by his supporters as a partisan witch hunt. Given that Republicans overwhelmingly still support him, with a majority believing that the election was stolen from him, persuading them of his culpability is a lost cause.

Theoretically, at least, the investigation could at least provide those interested in the truth a better picture of what happened. But I’m skeptical we’ll learn much useful that we don’t already know. Congress has subpoena power, of course, but unless they’re going to provide immunity from criminal and civil liability, we’re likely to see a string of people invoking their 5th Amendment rights.

FILED UNDER: Capitol Riot, Nancy Pelosi, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ken_L says:

    Most of the commentary about this investigation misses the point completely. The eventual report issued by the committee will not be the thing people remember. It will be the public hearings. Imagine Giuliani, Meadows, members of the Trump family and assorted other people being interrogated on TV naked to the world, stripped of the protection of aides and lackeys that they have depended on in the past. They might have had some hope of avoiding abject humiliation if Jordan was there yelling constant objections and Banks was going on Fox every night lying about what had happened. Now, they will be exposed in all their incoherent fatuity.

    Pelosi could scarcely have planned a better outcome. In fact, as I suggested months ago, it’s the outcome she anticipated and wanted.

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  2. wr says:

    I guess now we’re defining anyone who doesn’t swear fealty to Trump as a Democrat? Because I do think Liz Cheney might have some thoughts about that.

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  3. CSK says:

    @wr: @wr:
    The Trumpkins have been doing that all along.

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  4. Thomas V Hilton says:

    The extraordinary thing about Cillizza’s piece is that he acknowledges that Jordan and Banks were out to sabotage the investigation, that Pelosi’s decision was substantively correct, and that the Republican spin will be entirely false, and yet somehow the perception of partisanship will simply materialize with no involvement or culpability on the part of the people whose job it is to inform the public about politics–people like, to pick a totally random example, Cillizza himself. (I wrote more about this at No More Mister Nice Blog.)

    UPDATE: Despite the two pieces below, it appears Liz Cheney intends to remain on the committee in defiance of McCarthy.

    Came here to correct the “all Democratic” part of your hed, but I see it’s already been updated. Cheney’s response to McCarthy yesterday was perfect, hitting every essential point (including that Jordan is a potential material witness), and potentially more effective than the same message coming from any Democrat.

    What I don’t know is whether McCarthy taking his ball and going home leaves the Speaker free to choose whomever she wants. If so, Kinziger is another Republican who is all out of fucks to give.

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  5. Kathy says:

    @Ken_L:

    Not to mention the Republican committee members would likely have tried to steer questioning and the investigation to last summer’s protests, which is their worst recent attempt at bothsiderism.

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  6. Barry says:

    James: “So, even if she does, the committee would effectively be all-Democratic—or at least lack any Republicans in good standing.]”

    No True Scotsman, James? By now ‘Republicans in good standing’ means ‘support the insurrection’.

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  7. Arm The Homeless says:

    I would hope that this exercise in Congressional oversight is less for us–in this moment–and a marker for future Americans to understand what one of the nation’s major parties defended into anti-democratic kookery which directly led to an attempted coup.

    Hopefully pushing these fascist forces/ tactics that the GQP have embraced costs us less blood and treasure than the last time we were forced to confront it.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Liz Cheney has a bone to pick with you James.

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  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    [UPDATE: Despite the two pieces below, it appears Liz Cheney intends to remain on the committee in defiance of McCarthy. If she does, there is talk of stripping her of her committee assignments and membership in the caucus. So, even if she does, the committee would effectively be all-Democratic—or at least lack any Republicans in good standing.]

    Anyone based in reality would realize that Cheney, with or without membership in the caucus, is one of the few Conservative Republicans in the caucus.
    Chilliza, who is long past his best-by date, essentially says that if you don’t include these circus clowns, whose sole intend is to make a mockery of the proceedings, then you don’t have serious proceedings. And for to give even a hint of credibility to that BS is beyond shameless.
    In retrospect, given the reactions to this nonsense, I’m not sure why y’all didn’t advocate for al Qaeda to be included on the 9/11 commission. I mean…both sides, right?

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  10. James Joyner says:

    @Barry: Cheney has been stripped of her leadership position and, if she serves despite McCarthey withdrawing support for her, she’ll be a Republican in name only. Her service will have no impact on persuading Republicans.

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  11. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I had posted an update dealing with this near the top of the post two hours before your comment.

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  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    No offense intended, but this was always going to be theater in the end anyway. They’re largely playing to the gallery of the already convinced IMO.

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  13. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I’m not advocating anything. Cheney is one of very few Republicans left in a Congress worthy of respect. But, alas, very few Republicans see it that way.

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  14. Joe says:

    I disagree slightly, James. I think there is a brand of Republicans out there who are still listening to Cheney and some only to Cheney. She won’t change any of her fellow Congressional Republicans or the MAGAverse, but her participation is not meaningless.

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  15. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    While you are indeed correct, it does seem important to produce a single credible history of what happened from “beginning to end”…rather than allow that history to be re-written by those who were involved in the coup.

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  16. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    Cheney is playing the long game in an attempt to lead her party out of the woods. While I disagree with her politics I admire her commitment to the Constitution.
    As for advocating…it sure seems like you are advocating for nothing to be done about an attempted overthrow of our Government. Meh…¯\_(ツ)_/¯…oh well.
    THEY ATTEMPTED TO OVERTURN A FREE AND FAIR ELECTION, THE VERY LIFEBLOOD OF OUR SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT.
    I find doing nothing to be completely unacceptable. This cannot be allowed to stand. If this is the best that can be accomplished, given the current state of affairs, then something is better than nothing.

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  17. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    No argument about that at all. I didn’t mean to suggest that it has no purpose, more that it is highly unlikely to change any minds.

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  18. Scott O says:

    “ McCarthy’s selection of them was a big Fuck You”
    Well said.

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  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    You’re overlooking the possibility of the surprising, crystallizing moment. We didn’t think the Watergate hearings were going to be effective, either. Then:

    Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?

    I remember that day. The world stopped spinning, the birds stopped singing and no one breathed. You don’t often get to see the actual moment when a paradigm shifts. One minute Nixon was going to skate and then he wasn’t.

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  20. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I hate to say that people were more reasonable then, and more open to accepting evidence, but…maybe they were. You are never going to convince the hardcore Trumpkins that their savior did anything wrong–except perhaps surround himself with backstabbing RINO traitors.

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  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Yeah I saw that. I also saw this:

    So, even if she does, the committee would effectively be all-Democratic

    I stand by my comment. She would be deeply insulted by that statement and you should know it.

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  22. Stormy Dragon says:

    Dr. Joyner is also concerned that the failure to include any Al Qeda members on the 9/11 Commission may prevent it from being seen as legitimate.

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  23. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:
    I get what you are saying…but just because the Trumpaloons won’t listen is not a reason to do what is right in defense of our country. If succumb to that thinking, they win.

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  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    And a high school debate club member could get Trump to go full Colonel Jessup in under ten minutes.

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  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Not really overlooking it so much as I don’t think there is one left to be unearthed. Watergate played out in a different time, before 24/7 “news” coverage. This thing took place in full view of the “is the head dead yet?” spectacle that passes for news these days. We know a huge volume of information regarding what happened. We still have the major player saying that if Pence had gone along with a coup d’etat, he’d still be president, covered in real time on national news. There is little, if any, confusion as to what the rioters hoped to accomplish and what the people in the administration condoned, nor about what they’re doing now. People aren’t starving for information about these events; they’re drowning in it. Despite all of that, the needle hasn’t moved very much.

    I’d love to believe in the possibility of what you’re saying. I just honestly don’t. I’ll be the first one to cheer if it happens though, granted.

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  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: It’s not about convincing the hardcore Trumpkins, it’s about persuading the persuadable.

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  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Heh.

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  28. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @CSK:

    Did they also have time limits on questions, and had their colleagues interrupt and talk over each other constantly?

    If I had trump testify in front of me, I’d ask him only about Mike Pence. Why didn’t Pence do as he should? Was the Ass disappointed Pence didn’t deliver? How does he feel about Pence’s betrayal? Is he jealous Pence’s hands are bigger?

    As someone who knows how to carry a grudge long term, I can tell that’s not what trump does. he wraps them in uranium rods and implants them on his frontal lobe. There they fester and burn and gnaw at him all the time.

    The point is to get him angry and lash out. he’s kind of constantly angry at a simmering level, mostly for show. Descriptions of his rage are legion, and rarely seen by outsiders. Getting him to engage in one in public should be instructive, and maybe even actually helpful.

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  29. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “… she’ll be a Republican in name only. Her service will have no impact on persuading Republicans.”

    James, this is ‘No True Scotsman – The Sequel”

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  30. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: 10,000 here, 20,000 there, pretty soon you might change the result of an election.

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  31. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Barry:

    No offense intended, but if you think this piece of theater is going to swing an election, you’re more than a little naive.

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  32. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: @OzarkHillbilly:

    I agree with you both, but my point was that there appear to be fewer persuadable people now than there were back then.

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  33. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    And a high school debate club member could get Trump to go full Colonel Jessup in under ten minutes.

    Tangent: I’m convinced that high school/university style debate is a big cause of a lot of our current problems, as its built around the idea that the actual content of ones positions are irrelevant as long as the form of correct and that the height of intellectual prowess is being able to flip completely 180 at a moment’s notice and argue the exact opposite of what you were arguing 15 minutes ago.

    It’s not accident that so many Republicans are former debate team members and that this “argument for argument’s sake” style rhetoric has become so common on the right.

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  34. CSK says:

    Nancy Pelosi has appointed Adam Kinzinger to the Jan. 6 committee.

    Get ready for the screams of outrage from MAGAworld.

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  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: Her service was not going to have “an impact on persuading Republicans” regardless. You’re better than this.

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  36. CSK says:

    And is considering adding Denver Riggleman, per ABC.

    Cue even louder screams of anguish from the Trumpkins.

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  37. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Liz Cheney ran and won as a Republican. She’s a Republican. QED.

    Kinzinger was appointed this morning. Case closed. It’s bi-partisan.

    Really, James, I get you’re still in mourning for the party you used to support but denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, bro. Time to accept it and start to heal.

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  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Not all of us were even then. While MR wept bitter tears at the betrayal of a nation, I was angry that a bunch of partisan (and liberals at that) were doing a hack job on the greatest President we were likely to have in my lifetime.

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  39. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Uhhh…okay.

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  40. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The real gist of this story, and thus the post above, is

    “Republicans do everything in their power to stop an investigation into an attack on the Capitol in support of the former Republican President.”

    Any other take is just intellectually dishonest.

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  41. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    it sure seems like you are advocating for nothing to be done about an attempted overthrow of our Government

    Well, no. We already impeached Trump and are prosecuting ~400 individuals for their part in the matter.

    I’m simply dubious that a Congressional investigation that’s led by the other party is going to do much to move the ball. I do think @Michael Reynolds has a point that there may be some magical moment that serves as a game-changer. I’m just really, really skeptical that it’s a possibility. This isn’t Watergate; in that case, most Republicans eventually jumped ship.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Her service was not going to have “an impact on persuading Republicans” regardless. You’re better than this.

    and

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Really, James, I get you’re still in mourning for the party you used to support but denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, bro. Time to accept it and start to heal.

    We don’t disagree. You’re making my point in a different way and using it as a counter-argument.

    The headline from the post was based on my reading the two pieces that I excerpted, so I didn’t realize she was still on the committee. And Kinzinger was added after I wrote the piece.

    Regardless, while *I* see them as honest brokers and emblematic of the Republican Party I supported for decades, I don’t think someone who already voted to impeach Trump is going to be seen as credible to Republican voters, who are the ones whose minds we need to change.

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  42. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Political theater swings elections all the time. There have been extensive debates here at OTB on how progressive rhetoric cost the Democrats votes in the last election. No “Republicans” will change their minds – granted – but they were never the target for persuasion any way.

    Public hearings will get a lot of press coverage even if they are purely partisan. That press coverage will have an effect. The principle argument against the bipartisan special committee from McConnell, Thune, McCarthy, et al, was that the Democrats only wanted the hearings in order to damage Republicans going into the mid-terms. (The GOP playbook has a whole chapter on how the Benghazi hearings damaged Secretary Clinton.) Now, the Select Committee will have its sound bites provided solely by Democrats and a congressperson with the last name Cheney.

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  43. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:
    Due to her name, Liz Cheney attracts microphones whenever she speaks, especially on January 6th. There are still Republicans (particularly those with money to contribute) who will listen to her.

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  44. Teve says:

    @CSK: if any Republican has integrity, it’s probably him.

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  45. liberal capitalist says:

    @James Joyner:

    she’ll be a Republican in name only.

    At this point, isn’t EVERY Republican a RINO?

    The Republican party of 10 years ago is functionally dead. Short of renaming themselves the insurrectionist party, I have no idea what that part stands for today.

    Please understand, I am not coming here and throwing bombs… but what seems to be their platform is whatever way the wind is blowing today.

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  46. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    I’m sure that’s why the Trumpkins loathe him.

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  47. James Joyner says:

    @liberal capitalist:

    At this point, isn’t EVERY Republican a RINO? The Republican party of 10 years ago is functionally dead. Short of renaming themselves the insurrectionist party, I have no idea what that part stands for today.

    Parties evolve and sometimes relatively quickly. The primaries, election results, and public opinion polls reveal that the GOP that nominated Mitt Romney in 2012 has largely ceased to exist. There are those who loathed Trump and yet preferred him to Clinton or Biden but they’re an increasingly small fraction of today’s GOP. I’ve largely lost hope that we’ll see a reversal.

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  48. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott F.:

    Public hearings about what, exactly? This situation hasn’t exactly been (as I said) starved for news coverage. What exactly are these public hearings supposed to cover that hasn’t already been covered in exhaustive detail?

    What you’re going to end up with is the Democrats on the committee (and make no mistake, Cheney being there won’t make the slightest bit of difference since she’s already vulnerable to being accused of having entered into it with her mind already made up) rehashing stale news and being accused of causing gridlock. The takeaway will be “they’re no better than the folks who did the Benghazi crap they complained about”. Meanwhile, they’ll use it as an excuse to grind the Senate further to a halt. Faced with rising violent crime and looming inflationary pressure, Dems are apparently focused on something that happened nearly 8 months ago and someone who’s no longer in office. Let me be clear about this one, since I’ve said it before: they are better at messaging than Dems are, and they will tear the party a new one with those two nasties.

    I think you’re being hopelessly naive, but I’m open to being proved wrong. We should probably leave it there.

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  49. Raoul says:

    Whatever influence Cheney has over the GOP caucus is unaffected by her participation in the committee. Yes, the select committee is bipartisan, but so what, “bipartisanship” is a concocted cocktail for consumption for the capitalinos and has little substantive impact. If Jordan were to have been appointed, the same capitalinos would lead their stories with his bellowing boasts much diminishing the impact of the committee, so good riddance.

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  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Yeah. It’s hard to tell how people will turn out long term. I never voted for a Democrat or a Republican for President again after voting for Ford in 76.

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  51. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I don’t think this will have a negative effect on the Senate because I don’t think Mitch McConnell has a problem with this investigation.

    As for Republicans being better at messaging* (true) and tearing us a new one, I note that Biden’s approval number is rock steady at plus 10. Has not budged. The GOP is rock solid, but so are we. They have the better electoral terrain, we have the better numbers. If we can keep progressives from announcing a new Comintern or pushing reparations we have a good shot at keeping Congress. Not a sure thing by any means, but a good shot.

    *The Democratic Party sucks at messaging, but liberals are quite good at messaging. Hollywood, music, comedy and publishing are all ours. The fact that Republicans cannot roll back social justice gains we made is due in large part to the fact that Hollywood sings our tune. In the battle for gay rights all the fulminating right-wingers united could not match the impact of Ellen and Will and Grace and Star Trek and Oprah.

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  52. al Ameda says:

    If Kevin could borrow a few IQ points from Louie Gohmert, he’d realize that his best strategy right now would be to tell Speaker Pelosi that he’s changed his mind, that NOW he wants to do that Select Committee thing, you know, the deal that had the Committe comprised of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats and with equal powers to subpoena.

    Honestly, I’ve seen McCarthy in action for years out here in CA and I think he’s now been Peter Principled up past his level of competence.

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  53. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m not sure I agree, but as I said we should probably let it play out and see how it goes. We are just inside the threshold of inflationary pressure. I think that gets worse before it gets better, especially if we keep dumping cash into an economy that’s already floating in it.

    The bigger problem is violent crime. Rates are though the roof all over the country and escalating. 50% year to year increase in Atlanta. 30% in Miami. Dems are vulnerable to being accused being soft on crime – fair or not that’s just how it is. In this environment, it’s a problem. Sometimes I think that far too many on the left fail to grasp that crime and disorder are unacceptable to the entire population. People will lie to pollsters and go into the voting booth and vote for the person they think is going to protect them. That’s how you get a former cop as the arguable next mayor of NYC.

    Toss in the economic pressures of a pretty unavoidable third wave of this COVID disaster, the associated economic pressures that will cause, and border policy. Sprinkle on the usual midterm burden and the layout of this cycle, and you have a problem. The GOP has to flip one Senate seat. Five seats in the House, and they control the ballgame. Biden’s presidency is effectively over.

    Before you go there, I’ll absolutely agree that Dems aren’t necessarily responsible for all of that and laying it at their feet is entirely unfair, but politics isn’t about fair. They’re in control. They’ll get blamed for it anyway. Expending a great deal of political capital and column inches on this performance number for the convinced in that environment just doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me or seem to be the best use of resources.

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  54. Kathy says:

    @liberal capitalist:

    Short of renaming themselves the insurrectionist party, I have no idea what that part stands for today.

    I think the proper name for the Party of the Orange Ass* is the Oligarchical Socialist Party.

    *Other than the Party of the Orange Ass, that is.

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  55. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    What exactly are these public hearings supposed to cover that hasn’t already been covered in exhaustive detail?

    I think there is a lot of information that can be spot-lighted; much, I agree, some of us may already know because we pay close attention to this, but many Americans have never heard about.
    How was it organized? Various meetings including, but not limited to, war rooms in operation on January 5th.
    Who paid for all this? People were bussed and flown in. Where did the money come from? Who is behind that money? Most Americans know nothing of this.
    What was the goal? Many people think it was simply a riot. A protest gone bad. What did Trump want to happen? What could happen, in reality.
    And most importantly…How do we keep this from happening again? The biggest indicator of a successful coup is a failed coup preceding it. Positive steps came from the 9/11 commission, and even from the hyper-partisan Benghazi hearings. It’s critical that 1/6 never be allowed to happen again. Simply moving on virtually guarantees that it will happen again, and soon.
    There is a real danger this could devolve into pure political theater; you are absolutely correct about that. I think that chance is lessened by Pelosi’s actions.

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  56. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    No one but hardcore Republican partisans blames national Democrats for local crime. That hits mayors and governors. Sure, the R’s will try, but I have a feeling the broader electorate’s grown a bit smarter on that. Also, I suspect (based on no data, just feel) that the rise in crime – note: murder, not property crime – is an explosive frustration reaction to Covid lockdowns.

    Also, as we may be hostage to Leftie meme-writers, the GOP is hostage to militia types who may try to commit terrorist acts. One Murrah Federal Building could erase a whole lot of gang violence.

    Inflation? I don’t know how that plays out. The Fed has hopefully learned a few things since the days of stagflation.

    And then there are the prosecutions coming sloooooowly down the street.

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  57. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I don’t necessarily disagree, but the Republican response to that is going to be: There are hundreds of criminal investigations and prosecutions in progress as we speak which will undoubtedly get to the bottom of all of those questions, and more. Why do Congressional Democrats think they’re better able to address this than law enforcement and seasoned prosecutors are? Aren’t they worried about interfering with those investigations? Could it be they’re just more interested in playing political games than in addressing real problems – like crime? And there is the segue into their talking points, which they’ll all be in lockstep on.

    They are better at this game than Dems are. Just how it is.

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  58. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I prefer hopefully naive, but whatever. I won’t convince you, but I think you’re missing the play to be made.

    Dems are apparently focused on something that happened nearly 8 months ago and someone who’s no longer in office. Let me be clear about this one, since I’ve said it before: they are better at messaging than Dems are, and they will tear the party a new one with those two nasties.

    “Better at messaging” seems an odd characterization of the party currently without the WH, Senate, and House, plus polling in the toilet despite their own propaganda network(s). Nevertheless, let’s say Dems need to up their storytelling game. Who is the audience for a countering message to rising crime and inflation? Not partisans, surely – leftist partisans will attach blame to Republican nihilism and rightist partisans will never give credibility to the Democrats under any circumstances. The center will vote the economy and Democratic focus will not be so singular as to stop the Child Tax credit and beneficial infrastructure results before the mid-terms. (To be clear, if the economy is in the tank next year, no amount of messaging will make a difference.).

    So (as I’ve said before): the best play for Democrats is to drive a wedge between the Republican pols and their money. Sedition is bad for business, so relentless reminders of the GOP’s coddling of insurrectionists and comfort with white nationalists is not going to sit well with a meaningful segment of the Republican donor class.

    Select Committee Hearings will get daily coverage in the WSJ. Checkbooks will close. Hopefully, Republican politicians will get the message and adjust. The Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time – the hearings will cost them very little, but could move the needle where it matters.

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  59. Teve says:

    Gas has inflated a bit compared to the artificially depressed demand of last year, but the prices are similar to 2019. Lumber inflated drastically but in the last 2 months lumber futures are down ~70%. A fire in a chip fab is causing real pain which’ll last into next year and mostly affect vehicles. This bares no significant resemblance to 1974-1981.

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  60. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    No one but hardcore Republican partisans blames national Democrats for local crime

    I absolutely agree with that statement. The problem is that we aren’t having national elections in 2022; we’re having 469 essentially local ones. It’ll have an effect.

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  61. Teve says:

    US gas prices in june:

    2018 $2.89
    2019 $2.72
    2020 $2.08
    2021 $3.06

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  62. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott F.:

    Better at messaging” seems an odd characterization of the party currently without the WH, Senate, and House

    Let’s be realistic here. Oppositional turnout against Trump played a huge role in taking the White House. Despite that (now eliminated) advantage, the party lost 13 seats in the House. The GOP gained 14. I think all of us have to be honest that we barely, and I do mean barely, squeaked out a miracle in the Senate that was just about solely due to the anti-Trump turnout bump. That is not superior messaging; it was a uniquely unpalatable name at the top of the ticket that won’t be there in 2022. We won in spite of ourselves. Thinking that somehow means that we solved our significant problems is folly.

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  63. KM says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The bigger problem is violent crime. Rates are though the roof all over the country and escalating. 50% year to year increase in Atlanta. 30% in Miami.

    Considering last year was a fluke where a huge portion of the populations stayed away from other people and businesses shuttered, of course there’s a huge spike in crime. Comparing 2020 to 2021 is a dirty trick – it’s like saying mall traffic is up 50% because malls are finally open again. Criminals that stayed indoors aren’t anymore; gangs are reasserting territory they lost when everything locked down. For god’s sake, the first mass shooting 2020 was darkly joked as the nation getting back to business because you can’t kill a ton of people that aren’t there.

    Compare the number to 2018 or 2019 and then we can talk about crime spikes. Otherwise, it’s alarmist messaging for an otherwise horribly American outcome.

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  64. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I’d add we should find out what the Ass knew and when did he know it. Little has been said about that. Of course, being who he is, perhaps he knew nothing. But them, what did various Republicans in Congress knew ahead of time?

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  65. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Teve:

    US gas prices at Biden’s inauguration: $2.464

    US gas prices now: $3.247

    US gas price at this time last year: $2.283

    42% increase in the space of a year. 31% increase since Biden took office.

    Voters do not think in terms of “What was the price of gas three years ago?” They think in terms of “Why have gas prices gone up so much since Biden got elected?”

    We won’t even get into the state of the housing market or the looming correction in the equities markets (which Biden obviously has no control over, but will be blamed for anyway. The guy in the chair gets the blame, fairly or not).

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  66. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    They are better at this game than Dems are. Just how it is.

    That’s for fuqing sure.
    How the former guy can kill >400,000 Americans (depending on the study you read), and still be considered anything but a lead albatross, is testament to Democrats inability to message.

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  67. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @KM:

    I do not disagree, but that’s an argument for data nerds. As I said above – people do NOT think in terms of what were things like 3 years ago. They think in terms of what are things like now. People who are afraid look for two things: someone to blame and someone to protect them. You can expect that the GOP will serve up a coordinated, expansive messaging package aimed at both of those points. We’re supposed to hit back with charts and trends from three years ago? Seriously?

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  68. Raoul says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Crime in DC jumped a significant number when over 500 violent felonies were committed January 6, 2021, but it is all the Dems fault.

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  69. Teve says:

    @KM: 2 weeks ago i looked, and violent crime—not including murder—was up ~3% over 2020. There’s a weird spike in murder that I haven’t really looked into, but the overall picture is that violent crime has fallen ~50% since the peak around 1993. Murder fell drastically over that period too, even including this 1-year blip in the data. A lot of murder comes from gangs fighting for territory, I wonder if that’s what’s going on.

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  70. Teve says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’m not on Biden’s Comms team, and that’s not the frame I view everything in. I’m a data geek, and I like chatting with other data geeks, and my blog posts should not be judged as if they are White House press releases.

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  71. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Raoul:

    Again, I don’t disagree with any of you. I’m simply saying that people aren’t concerned with trends. They’re concerned with “I am afraid to go to the market or walk down my street”. You don’t win elections with multiyear charts and you don’t win them with “this bad thing happened 8 months ago”. The lady you’re trying to get to vote for you doesn’t care about those things. She cares about being afraid to leave her house, here, now, in the present. We have to be ready to tell her what we’re going to do for her now.

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  72. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Teve:

    Fair enough, and I agree. I approach your posts that way. I just hope we as a party have better messaging than that for John Average Voter, or we’ll get crushed. All he cares about is why he’s having to pay so much to fill his truck up and how you’re going to help him pay less.

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  73. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    That is not superior messaging; it was a uniquely unpalatable name at the top of the ticket that won’t be there in 2022. We won in spite of ourselves.

    In spite of ourselves or not, we won. Look, I’m not arguing that Democratic messaging is superior. I am challenging the premise that Democrats need to cower in fear of superior Republican messaging. The facts don’t bear that out.

    Also too, the Select Committee Hearings are going to put that “uniquely unpalatable name” on a whole lot of tickets in 2022 by proxy. The Republicans are helping with their fulsome embrace of the Orange Menace up and down the ticket. It doesn’t hurt the Democrats to keep reminding the persuadable voter of this.

    As you say, we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out. I’m saying I wouldn’t want to be holding the cards the GOPs has in their hand and their tells are making their bluffs obvious. The Dems would be foolish to fold.

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  74. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “People will lie to pollsters and go into the voting booth and vote for the person they think is going to protect them. That’s how you get a former cop as the arguable next mayor of NYC.”

    Would that be the former cop who was leading in all the polls for a month or so before the election? I’m not seeing people “lying to the polls” or trying to hide anything.

    Now if Sliwa wins the general, we can talk.

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  75. Teve says:

    Side note: I understand the annoyance at Dems’ messaging ability, I just roll my eyes at the idea that “Dems are bad” while “Republicans are good” at messaging. I just see it as an inevitable consequence of the structure of the parties. Republicans have a much tighter demographic to appeal to. Dems have a gumbo of different small groups. Of course it’s easier to message to

    Rural White Protestant Christian Boomers,

    than it is to

    Black/Hispanic/Asian/White, Christian/Muslim/Jewish/None, White-collar/Blue-collar, Native/immigrant/undocumented, Gay/Straight/Trans

    Etc etc. It has nothing to do with some innate lack of marketing ability, it has to do with being a whole lot harder challenge.

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  76. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    I think you’re focusing on disproving a narrow point and missing the broader one – NYC voters pushed two candidates into the general who are both running on what is basically a public safety platform. That is a response to crime.

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  77. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott F.:

    Also too, the Select Committee Hearings are going to put that “uniquely unpalatable name” on a whole lot of tickets in 2022 by proxy.

    I have my doubts. They might if they were taking place next year. As it is, they’ll likely be over and done with /old news by that point. The media will have moved on to the next shiny object. I agree though, we’ll have to see what happens. We’re too far out to be crystal balling next November.

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  78. Raoul says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I think you missed my glib reference-look at the date: 01/06/21. I agree with you in that framing (communications) is important. Like Reynolds says, I just don’t think gas prices or crime have much of an impact because most people can see with their own eyes that these issues are been exaggerated (who among us can forget the 90’s). However, since immigration factually happens outside our purview, it can be demagogued, and on this matter, our side does needs to improve.

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  79. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “No offense intended, but if you think this piece of theater is going to swing an election, you’re more than a little naive.”

    We don’t know what will work. My opinion is to keep pushing on as many fronts as feasible.

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  80. KM says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    No, we’re supposed to point out some scam artist is trying to selling them vegan tomatoes and asbestos-free cereal and they’re falling for it. It’s false labeling that falls apart the second you actually think about it which is why they’re slamming the fear button as hard as they can. It’s remarkable easy to scare people but it’s also remarkable easy to get them to understand that if someone telling them their tomatoes are vegan, they’re pulling a fast one. Every person in the country just lived through the last year and can grasp that if you aren’t out on the streets, the mugger isn’t getting your money and you’re not getting shot in a drive-by.

    We’re letting the messaging be “OMG crime wave from hell ARRGGHHH” instead of “this is how it used to be – you just got used to a more peaceful existence away from the public”. If we want to do something about crime, fine but pretending it’s a sudden thing is disingenuous at best; it’s a return to a depressing norm.

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  81. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “Well, no. We already impeached Trump and are prosecuting ~400 individuals for their part in the matter. ”

    Those individuals are peons. I support punishing to the maximum amount possible, but the GOP will cry only crocodile tears for them.

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  82. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Public hearings about what, exactly? This situation hasn’t exactly been (as I said) starved for news coverage. What exactly are these public hearings supposed to cover that hasn’t already been covered in exhaustive detail? ”

    The role of TRG and his staff in formenting the insurrection.
    The role of the GOP Congress in formenting the insurrection.
    The role of the GOP mediasphere in formenting the insurrection.
    The role of the GOP lawyersphere in formenting the insurrection.

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  83. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Public hearings about what, exactly? This situation hasn’t exactly been (as I said) starved for news coverage. ”

    We’ve seen massive progress by the GOP towards turning this into ‘antifa/FBI false flag/an ordinary tourist day’.

    I’d rather not cede this to them.

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  84. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Dems are apparently focused on something that happened nearly 8 months ago and someone who’s no longer in office.”

    Eh, a little attack on Congress, and that was so many news cycles ago….

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  85. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “We are just inside the threshold of inflationary pressure. ”

    Every f*cking time that the Dems inherit a GOP mess and try to clean it up, a bunch of GOP sympathizers come in and complain.

    Right now, these inflation figures are trying to use a COVID pandemic year as a baseline.

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  86. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “I don’t necessarily disagree, but the Republican response to that is going to be: ”

    Let them b*tch, and the louder the better.

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  87. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I think Lin Wood, Sidney Powell, and Donald Trump telling people the Georgia senatorial election was rigged before it took place helped depress the MAGA vote as well.

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  88. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “US gas price at this time last year: $2.283”

    Ever heard the one about an honest Harvard lawyer?

    Trick question, of course.

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  89. Barry says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “That is not superior messaging; it was a uniquely unpalatable name at the top of the ticket that won’t be there in 2022. We won in spite of ourselves. ”

    Then pin that name on the GOP as much as possible.
    One way to do that is these hearings.

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  90. Scott F. says:

    @Teve:

    It has nothing to do with some innate lack of marketing ability, it has to do with being a whole lot harder challenge.

    As noted further up this thread, it is not only a whole lot harder to message to a diverse block, it is also a whole lot easier to tell people want they want to hear divorced from reality (such as data, evidence, lived experience). Yet despite these advantages, the GOP is putting most of their political effort in propaganda and voter suppression. That should tell you everything you need to know about the power of the GOP message.

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  91. dazedandconfused says:

    I doubt any minds would be changed by the antics of Jim Jordan during the hearings, so Pelosi’s decision is unlikely to have affected anything in a meaningful way. The Ds have to show some spine towards people like Jordan if the normalization of his sort of behavior is to be checked. He adds no legitimacy. It’s high time to stop pretending he does.

    Kinzinger would not be on the committee without this move. Perhaps Nancy made the right choice.

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  92. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Your argument is correct. Americans are idiots.
    I just want to note that gas in British Columbia is significantly higher than here…so neat trick by Biden to pull that off!!!

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  93. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “I think you’re focusing on disproving a narrow point and missing the broader one – NYC voters pushed two candidates into the general who are both running on what is basically a public safety platform. That is a response to crime.”

    I think crime was part of it, maybe enough to tip Kelly over Garcia (although I wouldn’t discount sexism as well). But people are more complex than your formulation allows — it’s not just Republicans shouting “ooga-booga” and everyone falling into line. This was a quality of life election, and crime is only one piece of that. If it was everything, we’d be looking at Mayor Sliwa.

    Personally I wish Garcia had pushed harder on her plan to remove scaffolding from Manhattan buildings — that alone might have put her over the top…

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  94. wr says:

    @Barry: “One way to do that is these hearings.”

    As always, the reflexive Dem bashers are here to tell us that the Democrats are screwing everything up. These hearings will backfire on them, the Rs will use them to prove that Ds only care about political advantage while they are fighting inflation and crime and Republicans will come out on top.

    You know who doesn’t agree? Keven McCarthy. Jim Jordan. And the rest of the treason caucus. They are clearly terrified of these hearings. If they really thought they’d be a net win for them, you think they would have killed the bipartisan commission? You think they would be having a massive performative hissy fit now?

    Doesn’t mean there’s necessarily something big to be found out — like that certain Republican House members were conspiring with the rioters. But they’re sure acting like there is.

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  95. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    If I were Pelosi I would deputize Cheney to select the Republicans that serve on this Select Committee.
    This would negate the talking point that Pelosi is choosing who does the investigation.
    And it has the added bonus of aggrandizing Cheney, while debasing McCarthy.
    Ballsy…but a strong play. And it would seriously wound the sedition caucus.

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  96. Modulo Myself says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Adams went to great lengths to put himself out as a black cop who spoke against the NYPD, though. Whatever else he is, he is not Giuliani with a bunch of drunk cops screaming the n-word about David Dinkins. And NYC right now is not the city Giuliani had to ‘clean up’ either. We can talk about an increase in crime, but that doesn’t mean we’re living through Death Wish 4. Right-wing voters need to believe that because that vision of the world is all they have left. But they also need to believe that the coastal cities are dying and everyone is fleeing to like Columbus or some place.

    The Democrats would be wise to concede nothing. Make the GOP have to talk about justice for Ashli Babbitt for two years and sound like the drunk racist Giuliani of the 90s and see how the law and order label works.

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  97. dazedandconfused says:
  98. Barry says:

    @wr: “You know who doesn’t agree? Keven McCarthy. Jim Jordan. And the rest of the treason caucus. They are clearly terrified of these hearings. If they really thought they’d be a net win for them, you think they would have killed the bipartisan commission? You think they would be having a massive performative hissy fit now?”

    Thank you very much!

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  99. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: True dat.

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  100. Teve says:

    Wasn’t it Roger Ailes who said that if Fox News had been around back then, Nixon never would’ve had to resign?

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  101. CSK says:

    @Barry:
    Well, Obama was a Harvard lawyer…

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  102. Chip Daniels says:

    I think this barstool punditry that frames arguments in terms of “What this looks like to the average voter” ends up weakening any actual understanding or insight.

    It mostly functions as sockpuppetry where someone takes their own opinion then projects it through the view of some unnamed wholly imaginary group of people, and reports it as some detached observer.

    It weakens the ability to discover an insight since we end up speaking in the third person and pretending that our opinions are not our own, and thinking in terms of cynical manipulation of beliefs, instead of the actual truth.

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  103. MarkedMan says:

    As usual, Kevin Drum hits the nail on the head:

    Regardless of whether it’s held in the Senate or the House; or whether it’s bipartisan or not; the end result was always going to be separate reports. There would be a majority report from the Democrats and a minority report from the Republicans.

    So ignore all the fake drama. In a few months we’ll get two reports just like we were always going to get. Fox News will spend 90% of its time on three or four paragraphs from the minority report while the rest of us who don’t live in Murdochville will read the majority report and, once again, be shocked at what the Republican Party has become.

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  104. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @HarvardLaw92: The bigger problem is violent crime.

    TBH, I don’t think it is, not really. I can’t put my finger on what exactly is going on, (i’m 20 years removed from the hood) but my feeling is it’s pent up… something due to the pandemic. After 30 or 40 years of declining crime rates, I am skeptical that this resurgence is a long term thing. Let’s hope I’m right and that things settle back down in 6 months or so.

    Dems are vulnerable to being accused being soft on crime – fair or not that’s just how it is.

    This is true, but only because Americans by and large have been convinced that the solution to crime is always “lock them up and throw away the key” which is Republican dogma.

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  105. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @HarvardLaw92: They are better at this game than Dems are. Just how it is.

    And yet Nancy and crew have learned a Benghazi lesson or 3.

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  106. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Much ado about nothing.

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  107. Teve says:

    BTW, anybody else watching Hacks? I’m only 3 episodes in, but I can only take an episode a day because it’s emotionally trying.

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  108. Moosebreath says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    More questions for the Committee to investigate:

    There were several reports immediately after the insurrection that some Republican members of Congress were seen in the days immediately before escorting groups of people around the halls of the Capitol. Which members were they, and were they showing the insurrectionists where to go within the maze that is the Capitol?

    What orders did the Trump Administration give prior to the insurrection to the Capitol Police and the Defense Department? Was that why the Capitol Police were sent out in such small numbers and with no riot gear or crowd control weapons, and why it took hours until the National Guard was allowed to send its members to the Capitol?

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  109. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    she’ll be a Republican in name only. Her service will have no impact on persuading Republicans.

    Either Cheney is an idiot, or she thinks there’s an anti-Trump lane open for her that will be served by being on the committee. If so, she apparently feels some Rs will be persuaded. She’s an asshole, but I don’t think she, and her advisors, are idiots.

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  110. gVOR08 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    It’s not accident that so many Republicans are former debate team members and that this “argument for argument’s sake” style rhetoric has become so common on the right.

    And most politicians are lawyers. You can talk about them being officers of the court, but the whole philosophy is that I’ll do everything I can to support whichever side I happened to draw and truth is the court’s problem, or the jury’s, but certainly not mine.

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  111. Barry says:

    @Chip Daniels: Thank you for this. It’s a great description.

    I’d also add for emphasis that the people doing this (including me, at times) don’t know sh*t. They don’t actually know what will and will not play with this audience. They are like NYT reporters on a Cletus Safari in West Fentanyl, KY.

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  112. Barry says:

    @gVOR08: “If so, she apparently feels some Rs will be persuaded. She’s an asshole, but I don’t think she, and her advisors, are idiots.”

    With a possibility that she’s figuring on doing the right thing, in both the moral sense and the traditional right side of the political spectrum. Assuming that she can get re-elected, this might prove a good idea.

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