There were lots of moving parts to the chain of events that turned our National Capitol into a crime scene, the first of which was the calendar that marked the day Congress was required to certify the 2020 presidential election. Although this ritual is strictly ceremonial, it is not optional.
But facts matter little to raging mobs nurtured by the toxic stew of mistrust and disrespect between rival political parties in dark cubbyholes of the internet where conspiracy theories are conceived. The players were weird – a strange little guy named Ali who organized nationwide Stop the Steal rallies culminating with the Jan. 6 event in DC; three Republican Congressional representatives he named as advisors; an army of wacked-out lawyers (one of whom said Trump’s famously loyal Vice President Mike Pence should face a firing squad) and the arcane complexities of the Electoral College.
The more I read and see and hear, the more I believe that the proximate cause that lit the fuse – the “but for” event without which there probably wouldn’t have been a cop beaten to death with a fire extinguisher and the gallows sitting at the ready while a mob with ropes and flex cuffs and pipe bombs rampaged through the marble halls looking for Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi – was the seething rage of Donald Trump.
In what will surely become one of modern political history’s great ironies, that rage was locked, loaded and aimed at Pence by The Lincoln Project, which is composed of a group of Never Trump Republican (and former Republican) campaign gurus who are the most dangerous political attack dogs in the business. They’ve been shredding Democrats for years, but decided to devote 2020 to the defeat of Donald Trump. They rolled out new videos almost daily, but outdid themselves by raising questions about the loyalty of Mike Pence, who has long been ridiculed by the left for looking at Donald the way Nancy Reagan used to gaze at Ronnie. It was only 38 seconds long, but by all reports, it drew blood. (Watch it here)
“The end is coming Donald. Even Mike Pence knows. He’s backing away from your train wreck, from your desperate lies and clown lawyers. When Mike Pence is running away from you, you know it’s over.
“Trying to save his reputation. Protect his future.
“Oh. There’s one last thing, Donald. On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin when he presides over the Senate vote to prove Joe Biden won. It’s over and Mike Pence knows it.”
It aired Dec. 8, about a week before the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December following the general election, when the states’ electors met to cast their votes. This was the next-to-the-last step in finalizing the presidential election before the Jan. 6 congressional certification, and presiding over the process is one of the vice president’s few constitutional duties.
In 2000, Al Gore presided over the process that certified his loss, which was far narrower than Trump’s 2020 outcome, to George W. Bush without a word of complaint. That seems almost quaint.
Trump’s White House has always leaked like the Titanic, and multiple news stories reported that unnamed aides were complaining that the video’s barbed, manipulative message planted the idea that Pence is a traitor, no matter how much they explained that the lame duck vice president cannot change the outcome of a national election.
Subsequent stories report that the Lincoln Project principals are quite satisfied with the Pence spots (they’ve since done several more, just to rub it in), and that they’re going to move on to Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz.
Meanwhile, the leakers say that Trump is still mad at Mike Pence, who has agreed to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Betty Bean writes a Thursday opinion column for KnoxTNToday.com.