McCarthy & Co. Aren't Done Downplaying the Capitol Riot

The Jan. 6 Capitol Riot was one of the most surreal moments in modern American history. A sitting president held a rally during which he suggested—if not outright implored—they march on the Capitol building. And they did. We all watched slack-jawed, either on television or through social media, as a sea of Trump supporters ransacked the seat of American democracy. Five people died.

Much of the GOP is still pretending it didn’t happen.

To be clear, they’ve been playing pretend for months. They had to, of course. Trump’s second impeachment trial called for party unity even in the face of overwhelming evidence and just two weeks before his departure. Virtually every member of the Republican Party downplayed what happened on Jan. 6 even as videos and harrowing first-person accounts came to light. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who blamed Trump immediately after the fact, changed his tune just a few weeks ago. And he’s not alone.

Likening the people entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 to tourists is similar to calling a turd in your cereal part of a nutritious breakfast. You might be inclined to believe it if, say, it wasn’t sitting there in plain view or all your senses began to fail. But we’ve reached turd-in-your-cereal level denial with the GOP. Give it a few more months and they’ll start calling it a tea party without any sense of irony.

Clyde’s comments dovetailed with House Republicans’ vote to remove Rep. Liz Cheney from their leadership. They wouldn’t have to keep talking about any of this if Cheney didn’t insist on constantly bringing it up. It’s among the main reasons they canned her. But the Capitol Riot denialism isn’t going anywhere even if Cheney’s not there to bring it up. Yesterday, Rep. Eric Swalwell said he spoke with a Capitol Hill police officer that said McCarthy’s staff hung up on him when he called hoping to share his experiences from Jan. 6.

McCarthy’s rep denied his office hung up on the officer, and Swalwell pulled the “are you calling him a liar” card. It’s a performative he-said-she-said that’s not really worth analyzing. But it’s not difficult to believe that McCarthy is completely full of it. This is the same guy who, just a few months ago, pretended he didn’t know how to pronounce QAnon. And it’s even less difficult to believe that he doesn’t want to hear anything about what happened on Jan. 6 because it’s functionally irrelevant to him. He even seems annoyed when asked if his party has accepted the election results when his members so clearly haven’t. He says they have, so they have, okay? Just drop it. God, why do you keep bringing this up?

It’s a constant stream of denial and bullshit in plain sight, just begging for the mind to rebel at some point. McCarthy’s never will.