Reassuring as condemnations might be from the likes of Gov. Mike Parson, Sen. Roy Blunt and Rep. Ann Wagner, they are much too little and come way too late. These Republican leaders, all having shared a spot on the national stage during the Trump presidency, all had multiple occasions and strong justifications to stand up and condemn Trump’s dangerous rhetoric. Yet they waited to speak out until long after armed thugs, instigated by Trump, had rampaged across Capitol Hill, defiling the House and Senate.
This newspaper has spent years prodding and urging these Republican leaders to summon their courage and stand against Trump’s most despotic tendencies. Yet they repeatedly opted for cowardly silence. That made them complicit in the deadly violence that occurred Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley had the gall to stand before the Senate Wednesday night and feign shock, shock at what happened — hours after he had fist-pumped and cheered the rioters as they arrived on Capitol Hill. Hawley’s tardy, cover-his-ass condemnation of the violence ranks at the top of his substantial list of phony, smarmy and politically expedient declarations.
Americans have had enough of Trumpism and the two-faced, lying, populist politicians who embraced it. Hawley’s presidential aspirations have been flushed down the toilet because of his role in instigating Wednesday’s assault on democracy. He should do Missourians and the rest of the country a big favor and resign now.
Trumpism must die before it morphs into Hitlerism. Defenders like Hawley deserve to be cast into political purgatory for having promoted it.
Speaking of cowardly Trump defenders, Parson had the audacity Wednesday to condemn the Capitol Hill violence while publicly excusing Trump from instigating it. “When you try to blame the president or blame somebody else, you know, my understanding is the president told them not to commit any crimes,” Parson told reporters. He conveniently forgot that Trump waited more than three hours after rioters had begun the ransacking to tell them “not to commit any crimes.”
This is exactly the pattern we’ve been complaining about for years: Hand-wringing, mealy-mouthed Republicans who use every maneuver thinkable to avoid publicly criticizing Trump and upsetting his base. It’s exactly because politicians like Parson, Blunt and Wagner held back that Trump was emboldened to escalate his dangerous rhetoric and tweets.
It’s exactly because they held back that Trump grew more brash, ultimately reaching the point where he encouraged protesters to “be wild” while his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, urged a “trial by combat.” And what did the protesters do? They went wild and gaveled-in a trial by combat on the Senate and House floor.
There no longer is such a thing as a neutral zone when it comes to Trumpism. Either Parson, Blunt, Wagner and, yes, Hawley, condemn it loudly and consistently, or they become part of the problem that Missouri voters must eradicate once and for all.