The House Republican Caucus in Washington, D.C., which once enforced behavioral standards, is increasingly a place where shows of violent fantasy and the fomenting of real-life violence are condoned, excused and even endorsed.
The latest fantasy came Monday when an altered anime video was tweeted from the Twitter account of U.S. Representative Paul Gosar, R‑Arizona.
In the video, Gosar kills Representative Alesandria Ocasio-Cortez, D‑New York, and swings swords at President Biden. Asked about the video by The Washington Post, Gosar’s press aide replied: “Everyone needs to relax.”
After arriving at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland, AOC responded: “So while I was en route to Glasgow, a creepy member I work with who fundraises for neo-Nazi groups shared a fantasy video of him killing me. And he’ll face no consequences because (House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy) cheers him on with excuses. Fun Monday.”
As colleague Representative Ted Lieu of California accurately observed: “In any workplace in America, if a coworker makes an anime video [depicting themselves] killing another coworker, that person would be fired.”
But not from the House Republican Caucus. Kevin McCarthy has become a Trump strumpet, fighting successfully to block the formation of an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and trying unsuccessfully to block a House panel from citing Trump cronies for contempt when they refuse to pony up documents.
It wasn’t always so.
As recently as 2019, McCarthy moved to strip Representative Steve King, R‑Iowa, of committee assignments after defending the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacy.”
Representative Mark Foley, R‑Florida, was forced to resign his seat in 2006 after revelation he had sent suggestive emails to male House pages.
Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R‑California, was shown the door that same year after being convicted of taking bribes.
McCarthy whipped Republican “No” votes when House Democrats moved to deny QAanon-supporting Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, R‑Georgia, of her committee assignments. The motion passed on a party line vote.
Gosar, who has served in Congress since 2011, has raised money for and appeared at white supremacist gatherings. He has bought in to ex-President Trump’s claims of election fraud. The lawmaker’s sister, responding to the Monday tweet, went on CNN and claimed Gosar is engaging in “sociopathic fantasies.”
In an August 1st op-ed, siblings Jennifer, Dave and Tim Gosar wrote: “Although his colleagues in Congress and others in the media seem to only recently be paying attention, we have been aware of his unhinged behavior for years.”
Behaviorial standards in the party of Lincoln seem to have utterly vanished, at least in Congress’ lower chamber.
Thirteen House Republicans voted last week to pass the bipartisan infrastructure package, which captured nineteen Republican votes in the Senate, including Mitch McConnell’s. The House votes, however, were greeted with threats and howls.
“Vote for this infrastructure bill and I will primary the hell out of you,” said Representative Madison Cawthorn, R‑North Carolina.
Added scandal-plagued Representative Matt Gaetz, R‑Florida: “I can’t believe Republicans just gave the Democrats their socialism bill.”
Representative Greene described the thirteen “yea” Republican voters as “traitors” and said they had conspired to “pass Joe Biden’s Communist takeover of America” — then provided her followers with their phone numbers.
The result has been a breakout of obscene, threatening phonecalls, usually received by youthful interns in House offices. Longtime Representative Fred Upton, R‑Michigan, shared a voice mail he received: “F****** traitor, that’s what you are, you’re a f****** piece of s*** traitor. I hope you die. I hope everybody in your f****** family dies. You f****** piece of s*** trash. Mother******.”
The pandering to threats and violence shows no signs of abating and has spilled over to right-wing media. Laura Ingraham, the FNC host, last night encouraged contributions to the Kyle Rittenhouse Defense Fund. Tucker Carlson was defaming one of the two people Rittenhouse shot dead with his AR-15 assault rifle.
The darker side of the American dream seeks whomever it may devour.
As Paul Gosar’s siblings wrote in their op-ed: “This means unless your colleagues step in, you are likely doomed to go down in history as a cautionary tale – a person who betrayed his family, his country and even himself.”
In short, he’s a Kevin McCarthy Republican.