Opinion: Republicans on the insurrection? Don’t confuse them with the facts.
"In 1974, Washington collectively shook its head and suppressed laughter when Republican Rep. Earl Landgrebe of Valparaiso, Ind., a die-hard champion of President Richard M. Nixon, said this the day before Nixon resigned:
“Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind. I will not vote for impeachment. I’m going to stick with my president even if he and I have to be taken out of this building and shot.”
Now hold on. Everybody’s got an Uncle Earl up in the attic. That might help explain why the Republican Party was never held to account for Landgrebe, a colorful right-wing loner, who once voted no on a quorum call but could not later remember why.
After being named by New Times Magazine one of the “10 dumbest” members of Congress in the run-up to the 1974 elections, and because of his slavish embrace of the disgraced Nixon, Landgrebe earned himself a one-way ticket home, courtesy of voters who turned to the opposing Democratic candidate in droves.
Many of us who lived through the Watergate era thought we would never again see the likes of Earl Landgrebe. We had not accounted for the current crop of House Republicans.
Comes now a dawning reality: Though Landgrebe died in 1986, his spirit lurks in the House chamber, blanketing the Republican side of the aisle.
It’s all there in antics displayed by House Republicans since President Donald Trump was fired by the American people nearly a year ago.
Only a party infused with Landgrebe’s recalcitrance could have voted against officially certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. But it happened when 139 House Republicans stood with Trump over the electoral college — and against more than 81 million Americans who voted for Joe Biden.
And when the House voted to establish a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, every Republican present but two voted to sweep the insurrection under the rug.
That GOP vote to tank the probe was reminiscent of Landgrebe’s logic for becoming the lone voice against a cancer research appropriation bill. Landgrebe dismissed the idea of working to cure cancer because it would only change “which way you’re going to go.” That a Jan. 6 inquiry won’t change the outcome may have figured into GOP thinking. But then, maybe not.
Lest there’s any doubt that Landgrebe’s “closed mind” approach to evidence has hold of the Republican caucus, look no further back than a week ago, when the House voted to hold Stephen K. Bannon, former chief White House strategist and Trump confidant, in contempt for defying a congressional subpoena.
The case was open and shut. Bannon, a private citizen during the period in question, refused to comply with the House select committee investigation, though he didn’t have a legal leg on which to stand. His refusal was clearly a thumbed nose at Congress. Yet that was not enough to overcome the mutinous mind-set gripping the former president’s party. Only nine House Republicans had enough respect for their own institution to vote yes.
Asinine and disgusting, yes. But more than that, dangerous, because House Republicans have been doing nothing less than obstructing attempts to learn the facts behind the Jan. 6 insurrection.
There’s no shaking of heads and suppression of laughter when thoughts turn to that day in January when Trump stirred up the crowd at the White House Ellipse.
Those U.S. Capitol invaders weren’t just a ragtag group of disappointed Trump supporters in town to blow off a little steam. On that day, the country witnessed a deliberately violent attack on the cradle of our democracy by Trump-inspired rioters intent on stopping the certification of a presidential election and the peaceful transfer of power. It was a blatant attack on the rule of law and the Constitution, and an irrevocable national disgrace.
Making the Capitol insurrection worse is the refusal of Landgrebe-minded Republicans to support bona fide attempts to discover the facts behind the attack, to learn what happened and why, and to make certain a repeat of that shameful day never happens.
A full accounting of Jan. 6 and its causes also requires learning the extent to which members of Congress might have been involved in Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election’s legitimate results, and in the violence that erupted in the Capitol.
Landgrebe vowed he would rather be taken out of the building and shot than cast a stone in his hero’s direction. House Republicans need not go that far. Just join in the exercise of the House’s constitutional authority and make sure our democracy remains strong. That’s not too much to ask or expect. Democratic values ought to override devotion to another disgraced president."