A 'huge chasm on the right': Columnist says GOP must choose between the US Constitution and violent ‘insurrection’

A 'huge chasm on the right': Columnist says GOP must choose between the US Constitution and violent ‘insurrection’
Supporters of President Donald Trump near the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, Tyler Merbler

One thing that conservative Washington Post opinion columnist Jennifer Rubin can never be accused of is "whataboutism" when it comes to President Donald Trump. Rubin, a blistering Trump critic, has never tried to excuse any of Trump's misdeeds by saying, "But what about what such and such a Democrat said or did?" And Rubin, a week after the violent January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building, applauds Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming for coming out in support of Trump's impeachment and argues that Republicans must either choose between violent "insurrection" or constitutional conservatism.

"What is certain is that a huge chasm has opened on the right," Rubin writes in a January 13 column. "The question is how many Republicans will be caught in the stampede to disown the president. It's not clear what, if anything, will be left of the party when this is all over."

Cheney, the right-wing daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, infuriated diehard Trump supporters this week when she said that there has "never been a greater betrayal" by a sitting president in the history of the United States. And Rubin is in complete agreement with that statement.

Rubin writes, "Cheney is right, and — unlike House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — in choosing not to knuckle under to Trump and follow the mob, she may have redeemed herself and a segment of the Republican Party. She has laid down a marker: encouraging insurrection is unacceptable."

The conservative columnist continues, "As others join her, the rest of the Republican leadership appears increasingly pathetic, and the whining about the need for 'healing' and 'moving on' looks increasingly ridiculous. She forces other Republicans to say, well, sedition is not serious enough to keep President Trump from finishing his term."

Rubin applauds other House Republicans who have been forcefully calling Trump out, but she wishes that there were a lot more of them.

"In bold terms, (Cheney) and other Republicans — including Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.) — implicitly chastise members of their party who egged on the mob, not only directly but also by spreading the Big Lie that the election was stolen," Rubin stresses. "If Trump is guilty of 'failing to forcefully intervene,' what can be said of the Republicans in the House and Senate who ratified the sedition by returning to the Capitol and trying to overthrow the election?"

Rubin is glad to hear that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell favors impeachment, but she believes he should be doing more to fast-track a Senate trial if the House votes to indict Trump on any articles of impeachment.

"The Republican Party is in free fall, and matters will only get worse," Rubin warns. "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), according to reports, favors impeaching Trump as a way of separating the Party from the seditionist in chief. However, by refusing to call back the Senate from its recess early to try to remove Trump, McConnell does not give the party a clean break. In stalling, he is still protecting him."

Rubin slams far-right GOP wingnuts like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter in Georgia, and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado in her column, arguing that their inflammatory rhetoric before January 6 helped fire up the "insurrectionists" who showed up in Washington, D.C. on January 6. And according to Rubin, Republicans must decide whether they want to go in the direction of Greene and Boebert or take a stand against dangerous extremism.

"Unless the Republican Party swiftly — and with large House and Senate majorities — boots out Trump, deals with its own members who promote the Big Lie and reaffirms the fundamental principle that the people pick our president," Rubin writes, "the Party will continue to shed support, donors and, most of all, legitimacy."

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