Ronna McDaniel: Lincoln Wouldn’t Have Impeached John Wilkes Booth Or Some BS Like This
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel was a willing if feckless enabler of the one-term loser's Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. The loser's two-month barrage of lies undermined democracy and led to a deadly assault on the Capitol, but McDaniel wants us to move on because accountability's inconvenient.
McDaniel wrote an op-ed Monday complaining that impeachment is a distraction and a partisan vendetta. She refused to acknowledge the scope of the one-term loser's crimes. No, in her mind, it's Democrats who are violating their oath of office, and she had the nerve to demand that President Joe Biden call off the impeachment trial.
MCDANIEL: As we look for guidance we can turn to Abraham Lincoln, the finest stateman our nation has ever known and whose 212th birthday we commemorate this week.
At another difficult time in our nation's history, Lincoln said "a house divided against itself cannot stand."
Biden should heed Lincoln's words by urging his fellow Democrats in the Senate to abandon their political game of impeachment so the People's House can get back to doing the people's business and we can start the work of bringing our badly divided country together.
She had to mention Abraham Lincoln, didn't she?
Lincoln's “House Divided" speech in 1858 was a moral declaration: The United States would not "endure permanently half slave and half free."
LINCOLN: Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.
Republicans today would decry Lincoln's words as inherently “divisive." Lincoln's predecessor, President James Buchanan, had appeased the slave-holding states, whose ultimate goal was a country where no Black person was free. Lincoln's speech was a direct broadside.
The slave-holding states refused to accept Lincoln's free and fair election in 1860, so it's galling that McDaniel would invoke the 16th president just a month after a violent mob refused to accept Biden's free and fair election in 2020. Texas GOP chair Allen West, who is Black and confused, advocated for secession after Biden's victory.
McDaniel demonstrates a superficial understanding of Lincoln's prophetic words from 1858. He didn't believe you could keep a house united by ignoring rot in the foundation. No, he understood that you'd have to directly confront divisive issues and one side — preferably the moral one — would prevail.
We don't know yet if January 6 was Fort Sumter or Appomattox. Republicans now claim the Senate doesn't have time during a pandemic they'd previously ignored to impeach a single corrupt president. Their political antecedents argued that it was similarly misguided to push for abolition when it might jeopardize peace with the rebel states.
This scene from 2012's Lincoln is obviously fictionalized, but the film is loosely based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, which doesn't depict Lincoln as some pushover who prioritized “unity" over what was right.
LINCOLN: I can't accomplish a goddamn thing of any worth until we cure ourselves of slavery and end this pestilential war! I wonder if any of you or anyone else knows it. I know! I need this! This amendment is that cure! We've stepped out upon the world stage now. Now! With the fate of human dignity in our hands. Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment now! Now! Now! And you grouse so and heckle and dodge about like pettifogging Tammany Hall hucksters!
Lincoln went all in to pass the 13th Amendment. He even took advantage of the 1864 lame duck session (and folks complain about reconciliation). Lincoln insisted that slavery end before Confederate states were readmitted to the Union, which was a more radical position than he held before they seceded. But blood had been spilled, just like it was on January 6. Yet Republicans want to roll back the clock to before their party's leader incited a violent mob.
It was hypocritical enough that the antidemocratic, authoritarian GOP insisted on calling itself the “party of Lincoln," but after January 6, it's obscene. As Nietzsche said, "What was merely sick has now become indecent." It's indecent to be a Republican today.
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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."