Gaslighting of the Obstructive Kind

[NB: check the byline, thanks. / ~Rayne]

It’s pretty damned bad when your uncle feels he must denounce what you’ve said and done as the head of your shared political party.

Ronna McDaniel, niece of Mitt Romney and Republican National Committee chairwoman, deserved her uncle’s rebuttal. She’d tweeted in response to The New York Times’ article, ‘G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse‘ which reported the RNC’s censure of Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) for their participation in the House January 6 Committee:
As the chair of the RNC, it’s “legitimate political discourse” all the way down with McDaniel. She must have approved the wording of the censure which included the description of the U.S. Capitol’s violent storming as “legitimate political discourse,” doubling down when tweeting her objection to the NYT’s straightforward stenography of the censure.

There are so many layers of stupidity to this censure, one of which Marcy has already addressed. But for McDaniel and the RNC to expect the American public to believe their claim is unmoored from reality.

This is not “legitimate political discourse” by ordinary citizens.

Not legitimate as an exercise of free speech.

Violent to the point political perspective has been lost, beyond an effort to obtain agreement.

No reasoned discourse, just rage the entire world could see.

What instead McDaniel and the RNC have offered is gaslighting – an effort to change the public’s perspective of what they saw on television on January 6, 2020; what they’ve seen online across numerous news outlets since then; what the public has been shown by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is still searching for perpetrators; what the Department of Justice’s prosecutors have shown grand juries and courts as more than 700 individuals have been identified and arrested for their actions on January 6.

Gaslighting — a truly feeble effort which damages the RNC even further because the public can see through the dampened tissue held in front of its eyes.

More specifically, this gaslighting is aimed at GOP voters, who also saw a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6:

The last year of denialism, trash talking the House J6 Committee, and GOP congressional caucus refusal to cooperate in good faith has moved the disapproval rating 13%, still leaving 61% of GOP voters unhappy with what transpired on January 6.

So McDaniel and the RNC doubled down to try and recover more ground with GOP voters.

But the photos and videos don’t lie, and the other evidence gathered so far by both the House J6 and the DOJ bolster what the visual evidence tells us.

Nor has the court countered what the public saw, having convicted 208 and sentenced 85 out of 734 perpetrators charged to date.

The gaslighting will only become more obvious when hearings begin, and begin they will.

Not even Putin’s saber rattling over Ukraine can stop them.

~ ~ ~

The RNC had to backpedal on their claim this was “legitimate political discourse” because it even offended some GOP.

But the discussion over what the RNC really meant clouds another concern, which is that the censure itself was a fraud.

On January 6 and into the early hours of January 7, 2020, these states’ election certifications were called into question:

Arizona: 11 electoral votes – Counted following objection presented by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Senate rejected objection by a vote of 6-93
House rejected objection by a vote of 121-303

Georgia: 16 electoral votes – Counted following incomplete objection presented by Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) without a senator

Michigan: 16 electoral votes – Counted following incomplete objection presented by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) without a senator

Nevada: 6 electoral votes – Counted following incomplete objection presented by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) without a senator

Pennsylvania: 20 electoral votes – Counted following objection presented by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Senate rejected objection by a vote of 7-92
House rejected objection by a vote of 138-282

On December 30, Hawley said he was going to object to certification.

On January 2, 11 other GOP senators said they would object to certification. They were:

Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Mike Braun (R-IN)
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Steve Daines (R-MT)
Bill Hagerty (R-TN)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
John Kennedy (R-LA)
James Lankford (R-OK)
Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
Roger Marshall (R-KS)
Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)

Blackburn, Braun, Daines, Hagerty, Johnson, Lankford, Lummis all withdrew their objections after the Senate reconvened and voted on certification.

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) had not announced her intention to object in advance of January 6, but later withdrew her objection because of the assault on the Capitol Building.

Rick Scott (R-FL), Cindy Hyde Smith (R-MS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) threw in with Cruz, Hawley, Kennedy, Marshall, and Tuberville to vote against certification though they did not announce their position ahead of January 6.

We know now that Tuberville had been contacted by phone on the floor of the Senate by both Trump and Rudy Giuliani just as the Senate was being evacuated on January 6.

Represenatives Brooks Gosar, Greene, Hice, Perry objected to the certification of states Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania with support from senators Cruz and Hawley.

In all, 148 GOP members of Congress – 8 senators, 139 representatives – voted against certification of the election.

What McDaniel and the RNC have tried to hide with their claim that January 6 was “legitimate political discourse” was the autogolpe attempted even after the insurrectionist rioters disbanded and left the Capitol Building.

“Legitimate political discourse” this was not, though it has now been whitewashed by the RNC and protected by the weaponized Speech or Debate Clause.

Which of these GOP members of Congress were in on the conspiracy to obstruct government proceedings?

Which of them knew in advance how the plan to overturn several states’ election certifications would work, and knew their role in the conspiracy?

Which of them performed their role as they understood it?

Which ones remained silent and voted against certification, saying little to nothing afterward?

Which ones vacillated – hello, Kevin McCarthy – or played some other role in the conspiracy – hello, Lindsey Graham?

Which ones refused to participate in the conspiracy, but have simply said nothing at all, implicitly supporting sedition, insurrection, and the peaceful transfer of power with their silence?

The lack of honest, forthcoming answers about the GOP congressional caucus’s role is both instructive and obstructive.

~ ~ ~

McDaniel and the RNC may think they’re going to pull their party’s butt out of the fire with this gaslighting effort, by attempting to reframe angry hordes summoned to D.C. — who attacked police and threatened members of Congress, insulted the country by defecating on the Capitol Building’s marble floors after smashing its doors and windows, stole podiums, papers, laptops — as ‘ordinary citizens’ engaged in “legitimate political discourse,” while redirecting attention away from the roles that GOP members of Congress played on January 6.

But they’ve only demonstrated once again the Republican Party is incapable of governing, just as it’s been incapable of establishing a platform since 2016 based on coherent values it demonstrates in its actions.

If the GOP can’t engage in “legitimate political discourse,” if it can only exercise bad faith in words and deeds, it’s dead.

Sic transit mundum tuum, Factio Republicana.

But what if this obstructive gaslighting was more than a reframing exercise meant to skew public opinion?

What if McDaniel and the RNC instead meant to greenlight the same kind of violent behavior Trump’s supporters exhibited on January 6, using the censure of Cheney and Kinzinger and subsequent discussion as cover?

What if the walking dead GOP is not only rotting the brains of its followers with its false reality but encouraging them to continue to rebel because they have no other truly legitimate means to stay in power if voter suppression doesn’t succeed?

63 replies
  1. MB says:

    Hey, Mitt should form an “Uncles Club” with Stephen Miller’s uncle. Qualification: your nephew/niece engaged in reprehensible pubic behavior, for which the uncles have offered a public rebuke.

  2. P J Evans says:

    Teddy Cruz is happy to support the “truckers’ protest” in Ottawa, though it’s more like 1/6 than any legitimate protest.

  3. picklefactory says:

    The plan is seemingly clear enough:
    When minority rule is in effect, use it to bully, censor, degrade, “investigate” opponents, and to achieve stasis.
    When minority rule is not in effect, the tacit acceptance of political violence towards those opponents (who can only wield power illegitimately, after all) will restore it.

    • Sonso says:

      Sadly, in Wyoming, Liz Cheney is being lauded by Democrats (who can cross over same day in the primary) as someone to be supported, when she has always advocated for state-sponsored violence as a policy solution (war, prisons, police, etc.). I know many in the intermountain region who are fellow travelers in seeing violence as their preferred solution to the current ongoing crisis in governance. It derives from a toxic combination of the Old Testament god, Calvinism, and hatred of others.

  4. Savage Librarian says:

    Yes, it sounds like greenlighting to me, too. This article by Digby points out Bossie’s fingerprints on the RNC actions:

    “Mike Pence finally speaks up — too late! Trump’s takeover of GOP is virtually complete” – Heather Digby Parton, 2/7/22

    “According to reports from the conference, there was quite a bit of back-and-forth among members, some of whom thought it wasn’t a good look for the party to cater to Trump’s revenge fantasies. But the true believers won out, led by one of Trump’s top henchmen, David Bossie.”
    “Bossie’s latest task, shepherding the censure of Cheney and Kinzinger, has to have him fully back in Trump’s good graces. Nothing is more important to the ex-president than that and Bossie handled it smoothly, including the inflammatory language that McDaniel was forced to amend…”
    “Considering Bossie’s very special set of skills, it’s not unrealistic to suspect he may be setting up McDaniel for a fall…”–too-late-takeover-of-is-virtually-complete/

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Thanks SL for the Bossie info. While I feel little pity for her, McDaniel does have the aura of one about to take the fall for MAGA: first (and most damningly) she’s female, without the conventional bland blond appeal they like, and second … well, she gets flustered, unlike an ice princess. (Basically, see the first.)

  5. Jonf says:

    Maybe someone should write a manual, call it “How to Govern Better” than the other dumbasses. With examples like, you know, like throwing away papers at the WH is not allowed, better call the tape man to fix it, and other helpful hints.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      I’ve been thinking about this, and there may be language I’ve forgotten over the years, but it seems to me that before we get to “Democrat” vs. “Republican” or “liberal” or “conservative,” before we even get to issues like “feudalist,” “mercantilist” or “democrat” we need a more fundamental term, like “civilizationist,” as in “someone who believes in civilization.”

      On January 6th, Republicans stopped being civilizationists. I don’t know how to be clearer.

      • FL Resister says:

        Turns out making excuses instead of holding privileged boys accountable is bad for civilization.
        Second Estate failsons ransacking the Republican Party like it’s a frat house by the seashore, enabled decade after decade to fall ever upward, are about to discover gravity.

  6. Pete T says:

    I often wonder about the pre Jan 6th Capitol tours allegedly/possibly given by MoCs to insurrectionists. Did that turn out to be much ado about nothing – or what?


      • J R in WV says:

        Or the DoJ prosecutors interviewing people already in jail.

        Getting out would be an extreme motivation to talk all about the recon tours…

  7. William Bennett says:

    Yes, this has been irking me in the coverage. The GOP calling mob violence “legitimate political expression” isn’t the GOP **denying** that it was mob violence, which is how most observers seem to be taking it. It’s the GOP **embracing** mob violence. That’s what they now see as “legitimate political expression.” They don’t want to be called on it. But they should be.

    • Sonso says:

      To quote ancient SNL: It’s a floor was AND a dessert topping!
      The Janus-faced nature of the GOP position is a feature, not a bug.

  8. Riktol says:

    I think you’re spot on. Mix it with Trumps invocation of pardons for insurrectionists, calling Jan 6th legitimate political discourse is absolutely a green light for political violence. It provides political cover for trumpian state governors to issue pardons at the state level, and for trumpian state Attorney Generals to refuse to investigate political violence. Then the 2024 candidate comes along and promises to do the same thing at the federal level.

  9. Rita says:

    The Censure Resolution speaks for itself. If Ms. McDaniels feels that clarification is needed, she should have the RNC amend the Resolution.

    Every Republican Member of Congress should be asked if those who stormed the Capitol were engaged in legitimate political discourse. In fact, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer should fashion a resolution declaring that violence is not legitimate political discourse and put it to a vote.

    As far as I am concerned, nothing that transpired to delay or change the Jan. 6th Certification after December 14th when the Electoral College met was legitimate political discourse. The revelations about the plots forming the basis of the attempted coup make it clear that unsupported election fraud claims were just the pretext for Trump to overturn the election. And many Republican Members of Congress were complicit either by their silence or by overt actions.

  10. RWood says:

    “McDaniel and the RNC may think they’re going to pull their party’s butt out of the fire with this gaslighting effort, by attempting to reframe angry hordes summoned to D.C.”

    It’ll work. Because yes, their voters are that gullible, and they know it.

    Take JD Vance, a once never-trumper, who is now getting beat by his own words. Yet, he is still seeking trump’s endorsement. Even with the mountain of evidence piling up daily against him, he’s still betting it all on trump. He understands the voters and how hard a grip the cult mindset has on them.

    “Republican candidates are welding themselves to the former president and aggressively seeking out his endorsement; last spring, a handful of the Ohio Republican candidates met with Trump for an “Apprentice”-style boardroom audition for his support.” – Politico

    I see no reason for the GOP to change its strategy. I doubt even a trump indictment would make a sizable dent in the cults mindset. They are simply too far gone. The GOP correctly sees this as a PhyOp operation while the dems still think it’s a fight over facts and policy.

    I don’t think the lessons of Jan 6 have really set in.

    • Rayne says:

      I’ll take exception to your use of Vance as an example. Is Vance (and his even Trumpier GOP opponent Mandel) really playing to the Trump base, or is he laying on thick to win and retain Trump’s approval?

      I don’t think McDaniel+RNC are reframing January 6 for Vance (or Mandel) but GOP voters, a majority of which still don’t approve of what happened on January 6. Frankly, McDaniel+RNC have their hands full if Vance and Mandel are the best they can field in Ohio.

      • Jimmy Anderson says:

        I think you are correct.
        “I don’t think McDaniel+RNC are reframing January 6 for Vance (or Mandel) but GOP voters,”

        However, these ” Trumpier” candidates appear to be desperately twisting themselves inside out and laying it on thick, in order to appeal to Trump’s base, which most likely will (co-incidentally) win and retain Trump’s approval.
        Trump has already been shown to shift position (vaccines/boosters) in order to more perfectly align to ‘the (Trump) base’.

      • Sonso says:

        As mentioned previously, they are trying to have their cake and eat it, too. There is now, no longer any daylight between the cynic and the true believer. It’s been corrupted to the core; this is witnessed by the adolescent petulance and constant fantastical grievance ledger that is the GOP position on actual governance.

  11. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Legitimate political discourse…

    Someone remind me…

    When does ‘legitimate discourse’ involve tasing the guards on duty, hosing them down with bear spray, and beating them with their own shields, or threatening to hang the VP of the country, or defecating the the halls of Congress?

    Seriously, I have absolutely no doubt that this isn’t about ‘shifting public opinion’…

    IMO, the Big Lie, that the election was stolen, has always just been the fig leaf Trump and his followers are putting forth to make their real intentions more palatable to the general public and hopefully draw more backers to their side.

    Grab a pitchfork and torch, son! Be a patriot! The Democrats are stealing the country!

    If you had asked me 3 decades ago, would there ever be a 4th Reich in this world, I would have told you, absolutely. And if you had then asked me, where would it most likely come into being, I would have told you, IMO, right here, in the US.

    I’ve been watching this develop slowly for decades, and right now, this is where we’re at w/ it. Trump isn’t the cause of all this… he’s merely the cherry on top of the amazing s**t sundae the GOP has been devolving into for decades.

    I guess when you’ve totally given up on trying to, ya know, govern, and have zero actual successes or accomplishments to point to, lying and promising violence do indeed become your default, fallback positions.

    ‘There will be blood!”

    • Troutwaxer says:

      *When does ‘legitimate discourse’ involve tasing the guards on duty, hosing them down with bear spray, and beating them with their own shields, or threatening to hang the VP of the country, or defecating the the halls of Congress?”

      This is a question which should, suitably rephrased, be asked at every debate between now and 2024.

      • Frank anon says:

        And how will you respond when the Republicans dig in on the second clause of their statement separating the rioters from the outside protesters?

        • Rayne says:

          Outside protesters.
          'Outside protesters' swarming US Capitol Police officer Michael Fanone
          Just exercising their First Amendment rights protesting outside.
          'Outside protesters' beating on Officer Fanone'
          No. When GOP open their mouths to “dig in,” they’d better be able to explain how their “outside protesters” were anything but non-violent in their protests, how those who didn’t engage in violence directly just stood there and made no effort to stop it.

          Like Jim Jordan making no effort to stop sexual abuse at Ohio State, it seems to be a pattern with GOP that they do nothing when they aren’t trashing something.

  12. Jenny says:

    Thank you Rayne. Yes, urinating and defecating in the hall speaks volumes.

    The GOP, party of “family values” looking for a fight, yet deny abuse, violence and destruction of property on January 6th even with extensive video evidence.
    GOP have become the party of abuse. Four years with the former occupant of the White House was like living with a domestic abuser and many followers are enablers extending and encouraging abusive behavior. Fighting internally manifests to fighting externally. Too many deep seated insecure individuals taking their fear, anger and hate out on others. Unacceptable, go see a shrink.

  13. timbo says:

    Thank you for all you do to keep the flame of Liberty alive in the US, Rayne. It is clear that there is a seditionist conspiracy at work here—and hopefully the current Federal government is still capable of reining it in.

  14. Marinela says:

    To me this looks more designed to help Trump out of his legal problems.
    In addition, censuring Liz and Adam they make an example so that other GOP that want to speak out take notice.
    This is timed to keep GOP inline ahead of the J6 public hearings, and they think it helps them in November.

    If GOP doesn’t lose big in November we are in a world a hurt for a long time.

    • Rayne says:

      I’d agree if the GOP members who don’t support Trumpism or have wanted to speak out haven’t been cowed and mute for the last year. If they didn’t speak up already, this gaslighting isn’t going to change anything for them.

      I hope every Democrat running for Congress uses this weakness to their advantage in campaign messaging, though.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          “…democrats. They need to work on messaging.”

          From your mouth to God’s ears. Democrats should start referring to themselves as “the party of sanity” and contrasting themselves against the party of Jewish Space Lasers.

      • harpie says:

        Rep. Tom Malinowski, (D NJ-07),
        to his “perennial opponent” JUNIOR TOM KEAN [Daddy was once Governor]:
        4:07 PM · Feb 7, 2022

        Dear @KeanForCongress and @BobHugin, in case you’re still trying to make up your minds, do you see any “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse” here?

        If not, what are you going to do to reverse your party’s position on this? [VIDEO]

        Unfortunately, Malinowski’s district was negatively affected by the redistricting, and is now one of the ones which may change hands. [uggg]

    • DaveC says:

      This could be worded better, but the response to Ronna should include something about Trump dangling pardons to insurrectionists. That is clearly condoning political violence. Taken together with the resolution, the RNC is condoning political violence. I would also encourage folks to amplify the Kathy Berden vote stealing and old lace story – which was confirmed in the WP yesterday

  15. Savage Librarian says:

    Mr. Red

    Ride a stalking-horse without remorse:
    “legitimate political discourse”
    That is of course to best crowdsource
    for the infamous Mr. Red.

    Centripetal force, beat a dead horse,
    That’s the answer that he’ll endorse,
    He’s always on an unstable course,
    Abusive Mr. Red.

    “Mr. Ed the talking horse theme song”

  16. Leoghann says:

    When talking about how what now appears to be gaslighting is actually greenlighting, I’ll point out that there is one naturally green gas–chlorine. Kills in seconds.

  17. Bobster33 says:

    A commenter from another site had this perspective:
    Unless the Republican Fascist write the history of this era (and there is a very good chance that they will) it will show that there was a Plan A and Plan B for the coup.
    • Plan A was the fake electors, the seditious congress critters and Senators objecting to the count, seizing the voting machines, and using the Trump Court to rubber stamp the crimes.
    • Plan B was the violent overthrow planned and set in motion by The TFG because he loves being able to send shock troops to do his bidding.
    And Plan B helped stop Plan A.
    If only for a little while even his allies were appalled by the murderous intent of the forces that he unleashed against members of his own Party.
    Only his most faithful followers were going to accept the success of Plan A after that display.
    The news media, ever ready to normalize the extreme and indefensible GOP/F crimes, weren’t going to go along with them after poop smearing cosplayers threatened to hang the Vice-President and bludgeon police with fire extinguishers.
    If his ego hadn’t insisted on these dramatic acts of obeisance to his arrogance Plan A may have worked.
    And that is more frightening than I care to consider.

  18. Leoghann says:

    Looks like it was even worse than what we knew. (Isn’t it always with these people?) This morning, the Daily Beast is passing on something from NYTimes, reporting that the original draft of the censure had even more gas.

    According to The New York Times, the first draft of the resolution described the Capitol riot as “nonviolent and legal,” but that section was wisely scrapped. The draft as reported by the Times criticized the two representatives for taking part in the House investigation into the riot, describing the probe as “a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in nonviolent and legal political discourse.” In the end, the resolution that passed described the inquiry as a “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.” Even that watered-down version has caused a major scrap inside the party, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterating Tuesday that he believes the events of Jan. 6 amounted to a “violent insurrection.”

    Saying that the insurrection was “nonviolent and legal” is beyond the pale, but so is claiming it was “legitimate political discourse.”

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