OPINION

Republicans' defense of U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar in censure vote is sickening

Opinion: What is wrong with Republicans that they can't bring themselves to condemn Rep. Paul Gosar for his sick anime video?

Laurie Roberts
Arizona Republic
Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar

With one collective wave of the hand, the U.S. House on Wednesday transformed Rep. Paul Gosar into a potted plant.

The Arizona Republican was censured and stripped of his committee assignments, meaning he’ll play no meaningful role in, well, anything on Capitol Hill.

He’s lucky he wasn’t expelled.

But then, that would require his fellow Republicans to acknowledge that there is something seriously wrong with a colleague who would post an anime video of himself killing a congresswoman and threatening the president.

That, apparently, is asking too much of the once-Grand Old Party.

Republicans were full of excuses for Gosar

In fact, only two Republicans (Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois) could bring themselves to vote to censure Gosar for acting out, in anime style, his sick  fantasy of killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and threatening President Joe Biden.

Naturally, Arizona’s own Reps. Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko and David Schweikert stood proudly by Gosar.

Oh, all the Republicans assure us they don’t condone violence. They just aren’t willing to take a stand against it.

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Wednesday’s censure was a rushed vote, they tell us.

It sets a bad precedent when the majority overrules minority party committee assignments, they tell us.

It’s a double standard given Democrats who behave badly, they tell us, and a distraction from the many problems confronting this country.

Censure is not about silencing conservatives

“I do not condone violence … ,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said, during intense debate on the resolution. “The video was deleted, but Democrats won’t listen because they will do anything to distract from the failures of one-party rule in one year destroying the nation.”

“I condemn all acts of violence,” said Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., before she voted not to condemn Gosar.

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“I also condemn violence,” Biggs said. “But I would ask you to reconsider further usurping and taking control of this body for political purposes, because that’s what is happening here today.”

Is it really about taking control and silencing conservatives, Rep. Biggs? 

Or perhaps Democrats are just collectively shocked that a member of Congress would play out such a digusting fantasy on social media.

The question is, why aren’t Republicans shocked by Gosar's behavior?

They could have taken to the high ground and sent Gosar to the wood shed, or at least signaled mild disapproval. But in the 10 days since he posted his video, the Republican silence has been deafening and disappointing.

And illuminating.

What is so hard about saying this is wrong?

Gosar, meanwhile, has been merrily spinning the story, claiming that he wasn’t really killing Ocasio-Cortez when the cartoon version of himself killed Ocasio-Cortez. That he wasn’t really about to assassinate Biden when cartoon Gosar flew at the president with two swords.

He was, he insists, engaged in “a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy.”

“There is no threat in the cartoon other than the threat that immigration poses to this country,” a defiant Gosar told his colleagues on Wednesday.

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That’s his story and Republicans are not only buying it, they’re clinging to it.

And making light of the whole ugly incident — no doubt, elevating his status as a right-wing rock s

“Today we're critiquing Paul Gosar’s anime,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said. “Next week, we might be indicting the Wile E. Coyote for an explosive ordinance against the roadrunner.”

“What are we doing?” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, asked. “Censuring a member for a cartoon. You have got to be kidding me.”

Translation: It is now acceptable behavior for a sitting member of Congress to produce a video in which he kills a colleague.

Would that fly in your workplace?

Mine either.

What is wrong with Republicans that they can’t bring themselves to condemn Gosar for his sick anime video? 

Me? I’m with AOC on this one.

“What is so hard?” she asked. “What is so hard about saying that this is wrong?”

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurieRoberts.