Oh Yeah? Michigan GOP Leader Will Show Censuring Republicans Who's Stupid Enough!
It's not just the GOP's feisty new sedition caucus members, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, who have "allowed themselves" to believe nonsense. Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey told leaders of the Hillsdale County Republican Party that he believes the January 6 siege on the Capitol was a "hoax."
"That wasn't Trump's people. That's been a hoax from day one. That was all prearranged," Shirkey, a Clarklake Republican, said of the riot. "It was arranged by somebody who was funding it. … It was all staged."
I can't believe I have to say this, but the Capitol attack wasn't a hoax. It actually happened. People died. Shirkey also doesn't know what “hoax" means. It's as if someone was mauled by a bear and he said, "No, that's a hoax. It was really Bigfoot."
Shirkey was censured Monday but not because he believes rightwing fairy tales. No, the state GOP was displeased because he called the armed thugs who stormed the state Capitol this summer "a bunch of jackasses" and apparently "surrendered" to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who's a girl but still goes around acting like she's the state's chief executive. When told that he hadn't done enough to push back against Whitmer's tyrannical COVID-19 restrictions, he “joked" that he'd considered "inviting her to a fistfight on the Capitol lawn" but "thought that would be too much." (Twelve men were arrested in October for conspiring to kidnap Whitmer and put her on trial for “treason.")
Hillsdale County Republicans were fine, it seemed, with Shirkey's unhinged conspiracy theories. They also had no problem with Shirkey flying out to Washington DC at the one-term loser's request to discuss overturning the Michigan election results OR his interview with the New York Times where he empathized with the mob who attacked the Capitol.
"It was people feeling oppressed, and depressed, responding to what they thought was government just stealing their lives from them," he said. "And I'm not endorsing and supporting their actions, but I understand where they come from."
Elected officials shouldn't perform a domestic terrorism version of Chris Rock's “OJ, I Understand" routine.
During the pre-censure meeting, which was videotaped poorly at a local diner, Shirkey's fellow Republicans whaled on him.
"You're a liar," Jon Smith, secretary of the county party, told Shirkey.
Daren Wiseley, chairman of the county party, said, "We're not going to go along to get along. We're done with it, Mike."
Shirkey responded, "If you want to bully, go ahead and bully."
Wiseley fired back, "I call you a pussy if you call me a bully."
When warned about the upcoming censure vote, Shirkey said, "I don't give a shit. ... I don't care."
Shirkey's spokeswoman Amber McCann compared the censure vote to a "famous quote" from Winston Churchill: "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill never said this, not even on The Crown or Doctor Who. The misattributed quote doesn't seem very famous, either.
After the recording was released, Shirkey “apologized" ... sort of.
I said some things in a videoed conversation that are not fitting for the role I am privileged to serve. I own that. I have many flaws. Being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue are at least two of them. I regret the words I chose, and I apologize for my insensitive comments.
Shirkey wasn't the only passion player at that meeting. Hillsdale County Republican Chair Daren Wiseley supported objections to the Electoral College vote count because he believed in imaginary voter fraud. Wiseley claimed that “errors" with electronic voting switched at least 6,000 votes in one Michigan county from the one-term loser to President Joe Biden. The proof of such a claim is lacking.
"It's really a feature of the software that you kind of gotta scratch your head and say you know, whether you want to argue it's a mistake or not, I can't prove that it's not a mistake. But why does that even happen?" said Wiseley.
As Winston Churchill also didn't say, these people are batshit.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."