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Our Opinion: Republicans reward Gosar's misbehavior

Our Opinion: Republicans reward Gosar's misbehavior

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Only two Republicans — Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — voted last week to censure one of their own, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, for posting a graphically violent cartoon that no responsible grown-up should create or share, much less a member of Congress.

This means none of North Carolina’s GOP House delegation joined Cheney and Kinzinger in denouncing the video and stripping Gosar of his committee assignments, nor did anyone else on that side of the aisle.

Not Ted Budd. Not Virginia Foxx. Not any of them.

The collective shrug by Republicans at this latest outrage (a third Republican, David Joyce of Ohio, voted present) was hardly a surprise, but it was disheartening all the same.

If not this, then what?

The party that was offended by Big Bird getting vaccinated, the alleged “censorship” of Dr. Seuss and the fate of Mr. Potato Head thought Democrats were “overreaching” in pressing for Gosar’s censure.

Not only did most of his fellow Republicans not condemn him, some encouraged Gosar, Politico reported, regaling him with back slaps and fist bumps as the votes were tallied.

Then again, if the insurrection on Jan. 6 failed to move Republicans to act, why would only the latest in a series of provocative and bizarre words and deeds by Gosar, who has been disavowed by members of his own family?

Posted on Nov. 7, the anime-style video depicts him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden.

When the controversy over the video first erupted, Gosar removed the post and tried to downplay it.

“I do not espouse violence towards anyone,” he said at the time. “I never have. It was not my purpose to make anyone upset.”

Of course not.

After his mostly party-line censure, Gosar reposted the video.

His biography says he’ll turn 63 on Saturday, but Gosar’s post seemed to be the work of a middle-schooler.

Republicans defended their unwillingness to hold Gosar accountable by citing past rhetoric by Democrats that they say crossed the line.

Some Democrats have displayed both poor taste and bad judgment in spoken and written words.

Rep. Maxine Waters called for Democrats to “get more confrontational” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was not convicted for the killing of George Floyd. Rep. Ilhan Omar used an anti-semitic trope, “It’s all about the Benjamins,” in reference to U.S. policy toward Israel.

Omar apologized “unequivocally” to her Jewish constituents. Waters did not, though she should have.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of Gosar’s more vocal supporters and a loose cannon in her own right, called for Waters to be expelled.

Yet, probably the most comparable example on the left to Gosar’s act was a video in which the comedian Kathy Griffin held a mock severed head resembling then-President Donald Trump.

Griffin was investigated by the Secret Service, placed on the no-fly list and fired by CNN.

Should the standard be any lower for a member of Congress?

Trump tweeted at the time: “Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11-year-old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”

Last week Trump endorsed Gosar for reelection.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of Gosar’s more vocal supporters and a loose cannon in her own right, called for Waters to be expelled.

What Gosar did would have gotten many of us fired from jobs.

Meanwhile, the unsettling race to the bottom continues in a country already being ripped apart by stark divisions and tribalism. Some Republicans recently received death threats for voting with Democrats to fund roads and bridges.

North Carolina Republican Madison Cawthorn trafficked in myth and provocation when he said, “If our election systems continue to be rigged and continued to be stolen then it’s going to lead to one place and that’s bloodshed.”

For his part, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (whose sense of self-interest is exceeded only by his moral cowardice) has pledged that he would reinstate Gosar and Greene, who also has lost committee assignments because of violent rhetoric, possibly to even “better” ones — if Republicans win back the House in 2022.

And extreme gerrymandering will only send more extreme politicians to Washington.

In the aftermath of Jan. 6, you’d think members of Congress would be more careful with their words, but if anything, the tone of political discourse has only grown worse.

And, most distressing of all, normal.

Is there no offense, no disgraceful act, no affront to the dignity of elective office that can make congressional Republicans break ranks?

Sad to say, we got our answer last week.


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