A Few Thoughts on Today’s Capitol Protest

 

The US Capitol is the centerpiece, even the capstone, of my 40 career in and around politics and advocacy, and much more. It is where I met Adrienne and where every member of my family has spent time – both my sons were Senate pages, and one would serve as a doorkeeper and House staff assistant. I consider being Secretary of the Senate the greatest honor of my years in public service and politics. I love the Article I branch of our Republic.

I hate what happened today, for all the reasons you do, even though much of it appeared peaceful. But I have a few thoughts to share. They may surprise.
 
First, as a former journalist: take nothing you read, watched, or heard via corporate media today at face value. I have long learned that much early reporting is wrong. Worse, much of the media has been pining for years for an event like this; something to prove that “tea party” or Trump supporters are prone to violence. Some no doubt are. But let’s wait for the facts before drawing conclusions.
 
Second, while there is no excuse for violence, it is undeniably a part of our Capitol’s history. The 9 million pound cast iron dome symbolizes to the world our democracy was constructed during the Civil War; Union troops were quartered on the then-new Senate floor. One soldier had to be restrained from destroying former Senator Jefferson Davis’ (D-MS) desk (you know, the President of the Confederacy). There are bullet marks on the House floor where Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire during a vote in 1954.
 
And you can see bloodstains on the stairway leading from the House chamber along the east front downstairs, the result of a fatal gunshot wound. in 1889, a Louisville Courier reporter, Charles Kincaid, shot former Congressman William Taulby (KY); Kincaid was never charged.
 
More recently, in 1983, the Senate had just adjourned late one November evening when a bomb exploded just off the Senate floor, courtesy of “Weathermen” extremists. The damage was extensive. Fortunately, no one was injured. Shortly after I left my job as Secretary of the Senate, two Capitol policemen were killed by a deranged killer near the offices of then-House Whip Tom DeLay. They were the first two Capitol police lost in the line of duty.
 
I mention all this to remind you that protests and violence are the unfortunate but inevitable price of free speech and the freedom of expression, movement, and association guaranteed by our Constitution. Our first such “protest” occurred in Boston Harbor. Western Pennsylvania’s “Whiskey Rebellion” was quelled by troops led by none other than President George Washington. Over 600,000 Americans lost their lives in a bloody and tragic civil war. And civil rights protests during the ’50s and ’60s were frequently violent and bloody.
 
I’m not excusing it, nor what happened in the Capitol today. It is a part of our history and the dark side of our human nature. And we have always survived, grown, learned, and moved on. . . to the next episode. We are a fallen people. We learn the hard way. We always have.
 
As I wrote on my blog just yesterday, I believe we just experienced the worst election in modern times – not the result, but because of the massive irregularities that transpired, undermining confidence in the cornerstone of our republic – free and fair elections. 
Third, and finally, I’ve heard and read enough claptrap from enough of you about how, as a Trump voter (twice), I’m responsible for what happened today. How shallow, stupid, and insulting. And so many, especially in the media, are beside themselves over this “assault on democracy” involving the US Capitol . . . the same people dismissing or ignoring over 500 violent events in more than 200 cities across the United States this summer that destroyed thousands of buildings, small businesses, and livelihoods. Spare me your crocodile tears, hypocrites. If you decry violence in the Capitol today, decry it all.

 

Fourth, and a final point: Events today remind me of a book written by journalist David Frost, based on the post-Watergate interviews he famously conducted with former President Richard Nixon (later the subject of a movie starring Frank Langella as Richard Nixon). Nixon said, explaining how his presidency fell, said: “I gave them a sword, and they twisted it, with relish.”
 
Well, Trump supporters: You gave the corporate media and your political opponents a sword today. And they will be slowly, but surely, twisting it with relish, repeatedly, for a very long time. Thanks to a handful of stupid agitators, you have marginalized your cause so far off stage that it will forever tarnish President Trump and all that he accomplished.
 
That all being said, it is time to find a path forward to restore our institutions before they are permanently damaged – if not too late. In a few days, an op-ed I’m coauthoring will appear in a Washington, DC area newspaper. It will focus on the urgent need for us to genuinely change the way we communicate with each other in these contentious times. It will surprise a few of you. Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing it here.
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  1. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Well said.  Looking forward to the follow-up.

    • #1
  2. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Why assume that today’s “protestors” were actually Trump supporters?  BLM/Antifa have a long record of this kind of thing, and of making it look like someone else did it.

    • #2
  3. DonG (Biden is compromised) Coolidge
    DonG (Biden is compromised)
    @DonG

    Bucknelldad: Thanks to handful of stupid agitators, you have marginalized your cause so far off stage that it will forever tarnish President Trump and all that he accomplished.

    Great post.  The media will sure spin out a narrative that seeks to further crush the lives of the Deplorables.  Those words are nothing compared to the actual damage that Dems will be escalating on them in the future.  Frustrations are high and when there is no peaceful outlet, people can throw a tantrum.  I am confident that leaders will emerge to provide that peaceful outlet. 

    • #3
  4. Cal Lawton Member
    Cal Lawton
    @CalLawton

    Stop Walking into Traps.

    Today every Republican Trump supporter, Democrat Trump supporter, and every Independent Trump supporter got played. Conned. Snookered. Tricked. Fooled.

    It was another hoax, promoted by our political opponents with violent actors at the front edge to drop flame on a lake of fuel. Boobtube news cameras were there to document the truth from every angle (odd how those cameras were absent from Kenosha, from Atlanta, from Minneapolis, Seattle, and Portland for a year).  Propagandists positioned satellite trucks, budgeted coverage, and pre filed scripts. Then they waited for good people, convinced through Facebook and Instagram that an overwhelming presence in the nation’s capitol city would make their voice heard, walked into a planned disaster.

    Maybe one day we’ll stop being suckers.

    • #4
  5. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Bucknelldad: And so many, especially in the media, are beside themselves over this “assault on democracy” involving the US Capitol . . . the same people dismissing or ignoring over 500 violent events in more than 200 cities across the United States this summer that destroyed thousands of buildings, small businesses, and livelihoods. Spare me your crocodile tears, hypocrites. If you decry violence in the Capitol today, decry it all.

    And how many statues did we have to see torn down in front of our eyes, of the very men who created our Republic?  Yes, spare me.

    • #5
  6. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Bucknelldad: A Few Thoughts on Today’s Capitol Protest

    You should watch your language. The front page of the WSJ doesn’t say “protest.” It says “mob” and “rioters.”

    • #6
  7. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Bucknelldad: A Few Thoughts on Today’s Capitol Protest

    You should watch your language. The front page of the WSJ doesn’t say “protest.” It says “mob” and “rioters.”

    Of course it does.

    • #7
  8. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    There’s a story I read years ago in the Smithsonian about the World War I vets–the Bonus Army–who camped out in Anacostia and elsewhere throughout Washington, DC. There were 15,000 people in the camp. Meanwhile, Congress was deliberating the fate of the debt to the veterans: 

    The Senate was scheduled to vote on the 17th. Over the course of that day, more than 8,000 veterans gathered in front of the Capitol. Another 10,000 were stranded behind the Anacostia drawbridge, which police had raised, anticipating trouble. Debate continued into the evening. Finally, around 9:30, Senate aides summoned Waters inside. He reemerged moments later to break the news to the crowd: the bill had been defeated. . . .

    For a moment it looked as if the veterans would attack the Capitol. Then Elsie Robinson, a reporter for the Hearst newspapers, whispered in Waters’ ear. Apparently taking her advice, Waters shouted to the crowd: “Sing ‘America.’ ” When the veterans ended their song, most of them headed back to camp. . . .

    Finally, the Hoover administration broke up the camps, and it didn’t go well. 

    Around 11:00 p.m., MacArthur called a press conference to justify his actions. “Had the President not acted today, had he permitted this thing to go on for twenty-four hours more, he would have been faced with a grave situation which would have caused a real battle,” MacArthur told reporters. “Had he let it go on another week, I believe the institutions of our Government would have been severely threatened.”

    Over the next few days, newspapers and theater newsreels showed graphic images of fleeing veterans and their families, blazing shacks, clouds of tear gas, soldiers wielding fixed bayonets, cavalrymen waving sabers. “It’s war,” a narrator intoned. “The greatest concentration of fighting troops in Washington since 1865. . . . They are being forced out of their shacks by the troops who have been called out by the President of the United States.” In movie theaters across America, the Army was booed and MacArthur jeered.

    Democratic presidential nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt opposed immediate payment of the bonus on grounds that it would favor a special class of citizen at a time when all were suffering. But after reading newspaper accounts of MacArthur’s eviction, he told an adviser that “this will elect me.”

    Indeed, three months later, Roosevelt would win the election by seven million votes. George Patton, discounting the effect of the Great Depression on voters, later said that the Army’s “act[ing] against a crowd rather than against a mob” had “insured the election of a Democrat.” 

    I’ll bet Biden reacted the same way FDR did so many years ago–happy that today’s events would cement his presidency as a good thing in the minds of a great many Americans. Neither he nor the Democrats will ever accept any responsibility for actually being the cause of today’s events.   

     

    • #8
  9. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    MarciN (View Comment):
    Neither he nor the Democrats will ever accept any responsibility for actually being the cause of today’s events.

    That seems to include Gary too.

    • #9
  10. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Too late from my point of view.  If they burn the Capital to the ground I would be a happy.  The Capital is a corrupt place that should be broken and scattered for the safety of all.

    • #10
  11. Joan of Ark La Tex Member
    Joan of Ark La Tex
    @JoALT

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Sad day I have to agree with you.

    • #11
  12. Joan of Ark La Tex Member
    Joan of Ark La Tex
    @JoALT

    Cal Lawton (View Comment):

    Stop Walking into Traps.

    Today every Republican Trump supporter, Democrat Trump supporter, and every Independent Trump supporter got played. Conned. Snookered. Tricked. Fooled.

    It was another hoax, promoted by our political opponents with violent actors at the front edge to drop flame on a lake of fuel. Boobtube news cameras were there to document the truth from every angle (odd how those cameras were absent from Kenosha, from Atlanta, from Minneapolis, Seattle, and Portland for a year). Propagandists positioned satellite trucks, budgeted coverage, and pre filed scripts. Then they waited for good people, convinced through Facebook and Instagram that an overwhelming presence in the nation’s capitol city would make their voice heard, walked into a planned disaster.

    Maybe one day we’ll stop being suckers.

    Absolutely on point. I have now viewed over 10 on the scene American Chinese reports and their interviews with people on scene, watched over dozens of videos. It’s definitely a trap all set for Trump supporters to walk in. The latter were even trying to pull these antifa guys off from destruction. There is a witness that said they were led in through one door and then locked inside. That’s when the shooting occured.

    • #12
  13. Chet Ross Member
    Chet Ross
    @ChetRoss

    Very well stated — thank you.

     

    • #13
  14. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    Here’s an incident that the OP missed.

    1954 United States Capitol shooting – Wikipedia

     

    • #14
  15. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Bucknelldad: I’m not excusing it, nor what happened in the Capitol today.

    What do you mean you’re not excusing it?  When everything you wrote is a qualification of the event, then you are excusing it.  

    • #15
  16. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Manny (View Comment):

    Bucknelldad: I’m not excusing it, nor what happened in the Capitol today.

    What do you mean you’re not excusing it? When everything you wrote is a qualification of the event, then you are excusing it.

    No, he isn’t.

    • #16
  17. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Bucknelldad: I’m not excusing it, nor what happened in the Capitol today.

    What do you mean you’re not excusing it? When everything you wrote is a qualification of the event, then you are excusing it.

    No, he isn’t.

    It’s a rhetorical play to denounce something in one hand and then everything else you say is in some way to support it.  This is a common rhetorical technique that is used in polemics.

    • #17
  18. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    A very good post, BD. Thank you.

    Regarding this:

    Bucknelldad: Thanks to a handful of stupid agitators, you have marginalized your cause so far off stage that it will forever tarnish President Trump and all that he accomplished.

    I don’t think there was ever a prospect of an untarnished Trump legacy, nor even of a respected Trump legacy. Trump was a man, in some conspicuous ways an unsavory man, brought in to do a job. He did that job, and he did it far better than I expected or hoped he would. But when he goes, he won’t go with his reputation restored to something it never was. He was a rough man called upon in desperate times, never respected nor loved by half the country, destined to be treated like dirt by history — in the near term at least, perhaps in the long term.

    So I don’t think this event will carry a lot of weight with many people who didn’t already hate the man, nor do I think it will color his legacy or diminish what he’s accomplished. (The Democrats will do their best to achieve all of that, and would have without this recent justification.)

    • #18