I’ve mentioned a number of times that to avoid the errors of the Obama years Democrats must make a firm commitment not to engage with bad faith arguments or bad faith actors. “This to me is the greatest negative lesson of the Obama era: the willing engagement of good faith with bad faith in which bad faith is, by definition, always the winner.” This necessity has cropped up again with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to create a commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection against the US capitol.
Congressional Republicans are doing everything they can to scuttle the idea. They’re opposing Pelosi’s plan to give Democrats a 7-4 majority on the panel (that’s not an unreasonable argument in the abstract) and more tellingly insisting that they can only support the idea if it also looks at violence during the summer protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. In other words, the Republican response is to whatabout the insurrection at the Capitol and the attempt to overturn the 2020 election by force. The latest gambit comes from Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who says he could agree to the whataboutist model – Capitol insurrection but also antifa and everything that happened last summer – or a much narrower commission focused solely on Capitol security procedures.
What is notable is how this resistance is being portrayed by DC insider publications. Politico says that Pelosi’s effort to “create a broad bipartisan review of the Jan. 6 insurrection is in peril” because of McConnell’s opposition and later that McConnell’s new terms “underscore the steep challenge Democrats face if they hope to create the spirit of the 9/11 Commission, a bipartisan review of the 2001 terrorist attacks that’s considered a model for intensive after-action reviews of nationally significant moments.”
As I said, you simply can’t engage bad faith arguments because the bad faith actors are definitionally the victors. Always. This is no different from the recidivist Lucy-footballing Republicans did through the Obama years and their current insistence that the only way to achieve national unity – as per President Biden’s pledge – is to grant Republicans a veto over Democratic policy making when Democrats control the White House and Congress.
It is no surprise that Republicans don’t want this commission to be impanelled. Virtually the entire GOP was complicit in the events leading up to the insurrection; many actively participated in it and the party’s leader instigated and incited it. The core problem is that the GOP continues to embrace the insurrection or deny it ever happened. (In this sense, insisting that national unity can only be achieved by agreeing never to discuss it again is no different from denying it happened.) As long as this is the case any investigation cannot help but be ‘partisan’ inasmuch as one party supports the insurrection and the other does not. There’s simply no way around that.
In a sense one can hardly blame Republicans for opposing it: the man they have lined up this week to commit to as the leader of their party did it! How can they possibly get behind getting to the bottom of such an event? Of course they can’t. It’s umbilically tied to their commitment of loyalty to ex-President Trump.
As you can see from the Politico quotes, establishment DC press thinking makes this a failing on the part of ‘Democrats’ or Nancy Pelosi. As long as you accept that premise you’re basically making a mockery of yourself and trying to mount an investigation over which the suspects exercise a veto. As long as Republicans stick with this stance it can’t help but be ‘partisan’ since the Republican demand is not to allow an actual investigation.
Democrats simply can’t play this game. Pelosi doesn’t need McConnell’s permission. Democrats have majorities in both chambers. They can create it if they want to. They should. McConnell and fellow Republicans are insisting that it can only be ‘bipartisan’ if Republicans are allowed to prevent an investigation from actually happening. If that’s the standard there’s no point. Republicans have created this situation with their actions. As long as one party supports and covers for the insurrection and the other doesn’t any investigation perforce must be ‘partisan’. So be it.