The Paul Gosar censure hearing painted a very bleak picture of the Republican Party
The GOP's nihilism was on full display as Gosar was defended with lies, fallacies, and nonsense.
As we move further away from Trump leaving office, the political news cycle has increasingly focused on what’s going on within the Democratic Party. Headlines in recent months have been dominated by intra-party negotiations surrounding President Biden’s agenda, the administration’s response to the pandemic, economic issues, and the president’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.
In the background of all this is the widely shared assumption that with Biden’s approval ratings mired in the 40s, Republicans will likely retake control of at least the House following next year’s midterms. Wednesday served as a reminder of what the consequences of that would be.
In a sane world, a member of Congress posting a video depicting violence against a colleague in the same year that the Capitol was attacked and threats against politicians are skyrocketing would be an easy thing to condemn. But a hearing on Wednesday demonstrated that House Republicans are as far removed from sanity as they were during the Trump years.
Not only did no House Republicans in good standing with their party vote to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) for posting an animated video to his official government social media channels depicting him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attacking President Biden with a sword, but the reasons Republicans came up with to justify Gosar’s actions were a smorgasbord of lies and fallacies.
AOC perhaps stated it best during the speech she made shortly before Gosar became just the 24th member of Congress in history to be censured, a move that also resulted in him being stripped of his committee assignments.
"What I believe is unprecedented is for a member of House leadership of either party to be unable to condemn incitement of violence against a member of this body,” she said. “What is so hard about saying that this is wrong?"
But it’s not just leadership. The resolution censuring Gosar won the support of only two House Republicans, Trump critics Reps. Adam Kinzinger (IL) and Liz Cheney (WY). The former has already announced his retirement and the latter is unlikely to survive a Trump-backed primary challenge, so those two dissenting voices are not likely to be in Congress for long.
Gosar’s censure and the circumstances surrounding it are certainly newsworthy. But perhaps even more significant was what the GOP defenses of Gosar indicated about the state of that party.
It isn’t a pretty picture.
Republican defenses of Gosar were chock full of blatant lies, fabrications, and false equivalencies
Gosar has extensive ties with open white nationalists and is perhaps more immersed than any other member of Congress in neo-Nazi culture. As Tom McKay explained for Gizmodo, that’s reflected in the clip he posted, which comes from the anime Attack on Titan and is seen by “many online neo-Nazis and white supremacists” as “an allegory for the oppression of white people by Jews and other supposed racial enemies.”
Gosar never apologized for posting the video (if you haven’t seen it, you can view it here). Instead, days after putting it up, he dismissed the notion he did anything wrong, telling CNN he found the “faux outrage infantile and the hyperventilating and shrill accusations that this cartoon is dangerous to be laughable or intentionally hyperbolic.” He did an interview on Tuesday reiterating that he has no regrets.
And yet on Wednesday a number of Republicans defended Gosar on the basis that he expressed remorse for the video. From the Washington Post:
As the House took up the matter Wednesday, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said that Gosar had admitted “to a lapse of judgement,” and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) stated that Gosar "has already addressed his misguided decision.”
Along the same lines, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) told Axios he voted against the resolution censuring Gosar because "he “took it down and apologized.”
None of that ever happened. On the contrary, Gosar has been steadfastly defiant. And as if to underscore the point, shortly after being officially censured, Gosar even retweeted the anime video that landed him in hot water — undercutting the notion that his original decision to delete it reflected some degree of remorse.
But we didn’t need that retweet to know that nothing Gosar says can be taken at face value.