Opinion: Party of Lincoln and Marjorie Taylor Greene

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) sits in the House chamber on Jan. 6.
(Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. Exactly one year ago, a newly acquitted President Trump said the people who had tried to impeach and remove him from office were “evil and sick.” Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

I start off mentioning the last impeachment because Donald Trump, now the former president, will probably declare victory for the second consecutive February after another Senate acquittal. That’s the assessment of former U.S. attorney Harry Litman, who writes that the now ex-president’s ability to elude accountability in the upper chamber has nothing to do with his legal acumen or that of his attorneys — far from it, actually. Rather, Republican senators will altogether dodge the question of whether Trump incited insurrection (he did) in favor of dismissal on the constitutionally dubious grounds that they cannot convict an ex-president.

According to reports, Trump wants his lawyers to use the Senate trial as a platform for him to repeat his Big Lie that Democrats stole the election from him, something no lawyer who wants to remain a jurist in good standing would agree to do. That the most popular Republican around won’t get the fanciful defense he prefers doesn’t mean the GOP has shunned the violent, racist conspiracy theorizing of the Trump era, however. While the former president might be riding toward acquittal on a dubious technicality, freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is riding high on paranoid visions of blood-gulping Democrats and a “false flag” school shooting — and all the House Republican leader could muster was a plan to “have a conversation” with her, notes columnist Jonah Goldberg. Where Q-Anon goes, so goes the Republican Party.


As The Times’ editorial board notes, “Greene is a continuation of the four-year abasement that Trump inflicted on this country, and her cheerleading for Trump’s Big Lie of a stolen election is all the more intolerable in light of the deadly Capitol riot.” Problem is, the House Democrats’ vote to remove her from all committees plays into her hands, allowing even someone who has endorsed racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic statements to garner sympathy from the right and escape accountability.

The rest of us — as in, everyone and everything else on Earth — aren’t doing so well either. Increasingly, scholars who study the collapse of systems ranging from human societies to ecological environments warn that the Earth will soon become uninhabitable absent drastic action on climate change and resource use. The message, write Christopher Ketcham and Jeff Gibbs: “All human enterprise is ultimately determined by biophysical limits. We are exceptional animals, but we are not exempt from the laws of nature.” L.A. Times

California liberals are destroying labor protections. A record number of Americans turned out on Nov. 3 (and before, via mail-in ballot) to remove Trump from the White House; in California, voters also easily passed Proposition 22, arguably the most dramatic setback for labor rights since the Truman administration. That the gig-worker law came from the minds of two alums of Barack Obama’s presidency signals a dramatic change in the Democratic Party, whose greatest achievements over the last century came about precisely because it was a “party of workers.” The Atlantic

But wait, California is also a bastion of failed liberalism? That’s the caricature presented as reality by conservative columnist Bret Stephens, in a letter that purports to explain what conservatives fear about Democratic control of government. Read it if you must (my guess is that you can predict what it says), but understand this: I don’t know a single liberal who is satisfied with the state of affairs in California right now, and blaming a pandemic-era crime surge on recently elected reform-minded district attorneys, after more than a generation of tough-on-crime policies stuffed prisons and jails beyond their limits, seems lazy. New York Times

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The military coup in Myanmar is an outrage. After five years as a dictatorship-turned-fledgling democracy, the military leadership in the country formerly known as Burma apparently decided it had had enough and detained Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected lawmakers. Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has been a dismal defender of human rights within her own borders, writes Carla Hall, but that doesn’t make her removal from power acceptable. L.A. Times

What to do about the Trumpists next door? Columnist Virginia Heffernan was surprised when, while staying at her “pandemic getaway” in the country, her Trump-loving, “blue lives matter”-declaring neighbors plowed her snowed-in driveway without being asked. She writes: “I also can’t give my neighbors absolution; it’s not mine to give. Free driveway work, as nice as it is, is just not the same currency as justice and truth. To pretend it is would be to lie, and they probably aren’t looking for absolution anyway.” L.A. Times

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