Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell saw and heard exactly what the rest of us saw and heard on January 6th and, because they’re not stupid or completely insane, their immediate reactions were similar to yours. But then they checked the polls and realized that Trump was still popular, and so, with their moral compasses having long ago been melted in the molten liquid iron of the Earth’s core, they rose to his defense. NYT (Gift Article): In the days after the attack, Representative Kevin McCarthy planned to tell Mr. Trump to resign. Senator Mitch McConnell told allies impeachment was warranted. But their fury faded fast. (Their ethics faded faster.) “The confidential expressions of outrage from Mr. McCarthy and Mr. McConnell, which have not been previously reported, illustrate the immense gulf between what Republican leaders say privately about Mr. Trump and their public deference to a man whose hold on the party has gone virtually unchallenged for half a decade. The leaders’ swift retreat in January 2021 represented a capitulation at a moment of extraordinary political weakness for Mr. Trump — perhaps the last and best chance for mainstream Republicans to reclaim control of their party from a leader who had stoked an insurrection against American democracy itself.”

How craven and cowardly was the this American betrayal? Let’s consider the case of Kevin McCarthy. Shortly after the insurrection, during a conversation with colleagues, including Liz Cheney, McCarthy said he thought the second impeachment effort would pass and that he was considering making a call to Trump to suggest that he resign. When the story of this consideration broke this week, McCarthy and his office went into full and familiar lie mode and denied he ever made the suggestion. But, Lordy, their are tapes.

Let’s step back and consider what this pusillanimous coward did to Liz Cheney. On a phone call with her he made it clear he understood Trump’s role in the insurrection and that removal from office was a reasonable outcome. Then, faced with the threat of angering the monster his party helped to create, he backtracked, voted against impeachment, visited Trump to publicly kiss his ring, stripped Liz Cheney of her party leadership roles and allowed her to be publicly maligned for the crime of maintaining the same views he actually held himself, and threw her (and American democracy) under a one way bus to Mar-a-Lago. At this point, none of us are stupid or completely insane enough to think this will mark some closing of the chasm between what GOP leaders think of Trump vs what they say about him. That’s one story that will never pivot. But, for history’s sake, it’s worth calling out all the cowardly lyin’ done in the name of the most anti-American president ever, who, like the Wizard of Oz, is ultimately nothing but a common con man.