As I wrote earlier today, few Arkansas Republican officials are willing to discuss much less criticize the bloody elephant in their midst — the riot-inciting sociopath Donald Trump.
And as I wrote yesterday, the re-election of the chair and co-chair of the Republican National Committee (over Arkansan Doyle Webb in the case of the co-chair seat) signaled Trump’s continued hold on the national party. (Don’t misunderstand: Doyle Webb kisses up to Trump, too, but the re-elected co-chair is a Trump family insider. Webb has always been astute at getting his bread buttered.)
But Jonathan Martin’s account for the New York Times of the RNC vote added a good illustration on both the state and national level. Forget about rioters, deaths and Republican infighting in Washington. The RNC didn’t want to talk about that, Trump’s coronavirus failure or his attempt to steal the election in Georgia. Nobody hinted that Trump had a role in inciting the riot Wednesday, Martin reports.
Even as the president faces a possible second impeachment proceeding, this collective exercise in gaze aversion was not the most striking part of the meeting. More revealing was the reason for the silence from the stage: Party members, one after another, said in interviews that the president did not bear any blame for the violence at the Capitol and indicated that they wanted him to continue to play a leading role in the party.
And here comes Darkansas!:
“We can’t exist without the people he brought to the party — he’s changed the direction of the party,” said Paul Reynolds, the Republican committeeman from Alabama. “We’re a different party because of the people that came with him, and they make us a better party.”
Reta Hamilton, a committeewoman from Arkansas [Bella Vista], said Mr. Trump should play “a leading part” in the G.O.P. in the future for just that reason — “to bring his voters,” she said.
Ms. Hamilton and other R.N.C. members also sought to rationalize questions about the damage to the Capitol and the images of Trump banners and Confederate flags littering the building.
“What was your reaction to Black Lives Matter looting and robbing and killing people?” she shot back brazenly before walking away.
Watch this philosophy play out in the horror show legislative session on which Arkansas is about to embark with Trumplicans in control. Perhaps the people Reta Hamilton doesn’t want the party to lose will bring Confederate flags, explosive devices, ax handles and restraints to hold prisoners, as some did in Washington. Few Arkansas legislators are likely to get out of line, but you can’t be too careful.
Also: Forget about making grievances to this gang. An acquaintance of mine, a 90-year-old retired federal worker, called today to say she had called U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford’s Arkansas office Friday to object to his support for blocking ratification of the Electoral College vote along with almost 150 other Republicans. She called him a traitor for opposing the certified election results.
The elderly retiree said a staff member for Crawford then berated her in an extended rant. Crawford’s flunky told the caller SHE was the traitor.
There is a customary and civil way for congressional offices to deal with critical calls: “Thanks very much. I’ve taken your information. Good day.”
Civility in politics is dead to Donald Trump and minions like Crawford.
PS: It might not surprise you to know there’s a YouTube of Crawford paying tribute to Reta Hamilton.
PPS: Should you like to light up Crawford’s phone