House Democrats tried to draw a red line against incendiary political rhetoric on Wednesday. They only succeeded halfway.
Rep. Paul gosarPaul Anthony GosarHillicon Valley – Presented by Ericsson – Oversight Says ‘Little Lapses’ Led to House Voting Wednesday to Censor Gosar, Remove Him from Committees Gosar Defends Ocasio-Cortez Anime Video Before Republican Party MORE (R-Ariz.) He became the first member to be censored in more than a decade. But the vote came by a narrow margin and almost entirely along party lines.
The action was taken in response to Gosar tweeting a video showing an anime version of himself killing a cartoon version of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHillicon Valley – Presented by Ericsson – Oversight Says ‘Little Lapses’ Led to House Voting Wednesday to Censor Gosar, Remove Him from Committees Gosar Defends Ocasio-Cortez Anime Video Before Republican Party MORE (DN.Y.) and attack a character made to look like President BidenJoe Biden Idaho House of Representatives Passes Workers’ Compensation Bill Biden Submits 2016 Climate Treaty to Senate for Ratification Rubio Pledges to Delay Biden’s China and Spain Ambassador Candidates MORE with two swords.
The action was taken in response to Gosar tweeting an anime video showing a cartoon version of himself killing a cartoon version of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) and attacking the president’s character. Biden with two swords.
Gosar has since removed the video, which was posted on November 7. But he has not apologized for it and again declined to do so during the censorship debate.
Instead, he said he had removed the video because “some thought” it was a threat. Arguing that these unidentified critics were wrong, he claimed that it was instead “staging a political battle” over illegal immigration, an explanation that all but the most credulous Gosar supporters would find laughable.
The vote was a reminder that even on the basic question of whether those gory images are permissible, Congress, and perhaps the nation, is hopelessly divided.
The final vote in the House was 223-207, with all Democrats voting for Gosar’s no-confidence, but only two Republicans, the Representatives. Liz cheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn Cheney Memo: Democrats May Regret Seeking Bannon House To Vote Wednesday To Censor Gosar, Get Him Out Of Committees Gosar Defends Ocasio-Cortez Anime Video Before Republican Party MORE (Wyoming) and Adam kinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerHouse will vote Wednesday to censor Gosar, remove him from committees Gosar defends Ocasio-Cortez anime video to Republican Party Trump allies target Katko for infrastructure vote MORE (Ill.), Joining them.
Cheney and Kinzinger have been outliers in the Republican conference for some time, in large part because of their willingness to criticize the former President TrumpDonald Trump Biden sends 2016 climate treaty to Senate for ratification US and China ease restrictions on journalists Americans continue to spend MORE in direct terms. The only surprise came when Rep. David joyceDavid Joyce Reforming Marijuana Laws Before the Holidays: A Three-Part Approach Bipartisan Lawmakers Highlight Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health and Addiction The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Democrats Await Manchin’s Decision on the voting rights bill MORE (R-Ohio) voted “present.”
Gosar became the 24th member in House history to be censored, a measure that is harsher than a reprimand, although it does not lead to expulsion. He was also stripped of his committee assignments.
Yet the debate was a healthy reminder of how Democrats and Republicans seem to inhabit two separate universes.
Spokesman Nancy pelosiNancy Pelosi Black Caucus eager to see BBB cross finish line in House Hoyer: Vote on .75T spending package likely Thursday or Friday Feehery: Next Republican wave is MORE coming (D-Calif.), Introducing the resolution, stated that Gosar’s actions were flatly unacceptable.
“We cannot allow a member to joke about murdering [another member], or threaten the president of the United States, “he said.
Ocasio-Cortez lashed out at the House minority leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse to vote Wednesday to censor Gosar, remove him from committees Gosar defends Ocasio-Cortez anime video to Republican Party Trump allies target Katko for infrastructure vote MORE (R-Calif.) For “venturing off on a tangent” during his remarks to include complaints about President Biden’s policies and issues like “gas prices and inflation.”
“What is so difficult to say that this is wrong?” asked the congresswoman from New York. “This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. It is about what we are willing to accept. “
But Republicans, including McCarthy, lined up to denounce the censorship push.
Rep. Chip royCharles (Chip) Eugene Roy Overnight Health Care – Presented by Rare Access Action Project – White House unaffected by ruling mandate Republican says Republican Party should block government funding on vaccine mandates Early redistribution plans show long-term GOP downsizing MORE (R-Texas) complained that the Democrats were engaged in a “chilling debate.”
Several members of the Republican Party complained that the decision to censor Gosar was consuming valuable time as the nation faced more serious problems.
Rep. Jim jordanJames (Jim) Daniel Jordan Memo: Democrats May Regret Persecution of Bannon Meadows Is The Subject Of Increasing Focus On Jan. 6 Panel Sunday Preview Shows: Biden Administration Faces Inflation Peak PLUS (R-Ohio) argued that the outrage over Gosar was occurring while Democrats were “treating parents like terrorists,” an allusion to the rowdy debates around school boards and a measure by the Attorney General. Merrick garlandMerrick Garland Memorandum: Democrats May Regret Prosecution of Bannon Union Lawsuit in Attempt to Represent Connecticut National Guard Members Top Senate Democrat Calls on Attorney General to Fire Chief of Prisons MORE that the FBI address threats made in that context.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a debate over civility sometimes descended into hyperbolic rudeness.
Rep. Clay HigginsGlen (Clay) Clay Higgins, newly elected Freedom Caucus chairman tests positive for COVID-19 Memo: Experts warn of new violence amid Gosar storm Representative Tim Ryan becomes latest COVID-19 case in the MORE Congress (R-La.) He accused the Democrats of wanting to take “totalitarian control” of the country. Rep. Lauren boebertLauren BoebertMeadows is in the growing spotlight of January 6 panel Jimmy Kimmel responds to Lauren Boebert calling it a ‘sexist pig’ Video showing violence removed from Rep Gosar’s account after pushback (R-Colo.) He referred to Rep. Ilhan omarIlhan Omar Evidence of a Republican Takeover Mounts: Democrats Must Act Fast Overnight Defense and National Security: US Keeps Watch on Russia Michelle Wu’s victory heralds a new era of climate politics MORE (D-Minn.) As “the member of the Minnesota Jihad Squad.”
That’s the kind of language that horrifies those who remember an earlier and less poisonous era, and makes those who worry about the course of American democracy nervous.
But it’s also what today’s hyperpolarized political and media ecosystem often rewards.
It’s hard for Republicans to credibly argue that incendiary political rhetoric is not a problem.
The nation is still grappling with the fallout from the January 6 uprising, which Trump was accused of inciting. Partisan enmity has been simmering for years. When 13 House Republicans voted in favor of the recently passed infrastructure bill, some of them received death threats.
A poll earlier this year by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative organization, found that nearly 4 in 10 Republicans believe that “violent actions” would be justified under certain political circumstances in which “elected leaders will not protect America.” .
The hot rhetoric is not limited to one side of the partisan divide. During Wednesday’s debate, McCarthy drew attention to comments from Omar and Rep. Maxine watersMaxine Moore WatersGosar Faces Increasing Chances of House Floor Censorship On The Money: Progressives Sign As Biden Rushes to Deal Biden’s Framework Includes 0B for Affordable Housing MORE (D-Calif.).
Omar apologized in 2019 for previous anti-Semitic tweets.
She sparked another controversy in June when she listed Israel and the United States, as well as Hamas and the Taliban, as guilty of “unthinkable atrocities.” Many historians would agree with her. But political commentators were offended by what they saw as an unwarranted moral equivalence.
In April, Waters told Black Lives Matter protesters to “stay on the streets” and “get more confrontational” if they didn’t believe justice was served in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who ultimately he was convicted of murdering George Floyd. . In 2018, Waters asked citizens to harass Trump’s cabinet members if they saw them in public places.
McCarthy also singled out Rep. Hakeem jeffriesHakeem Sekou Jeffries Democrats optimistic they will make it to the finish line this week Hoyer: Vote for the .75T spending package probably Thursday or Friday The CBC-led Black Men and Boys Social Status Commission has its first meeting MORE‘(DN.Y.) tweeted a week ago about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha, Wis.
“Lock Kyle Rittenhouse and throw away the key,” Jeffries tweeted.
These comments are clearly inappropriate.
But they are not murder fantasies, either.
Ocasio-Cortez, pointing to McCarthy’s comments about alleged Democratic misdeeds, said: “Not once did he list an example of a member of Congress threatening the life of another.”
No Republican refuted his point.
But Republicans suggested they would seek revenge as long as they win back a majority in the House.
McCarthy and others alluded to his willingness to use Wednesday’s precedent to act in the future against Democrats who believe they have ventured out of bounds.
Gosar’s censorship showed a House majority willing to act against toxic threats.
But the debate also exposed, once again, a political culture that is speeding on a downward trajectory.
The Memo is a column reported by Niall Stanage.