Of inmates and asylums: Today's House Republicans make the John Birchers look quaint

Of inmates and asylums: Today's House Republicans make the John Birchers look quaint
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With overwhelming bi-partisan support, Congress approved a 9/11 commission almost 20 years ago. This past week House Republicans decisively opposed a commission to investigate the deadly mob assault on the Capitol Jan. 6.

The House Republican caucus was conservative back then; there were maybe a handful of crazies. The current caucus is also conservative, but there are literally dozens of mean-spirited whackos who shape the agenda on matters like a 1/6 commission.

There are two reasons behind the opposition. One is that an honest inquiry might further implicate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE's incitement of the assault. The other is that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyFormer Rep. Rohrabacher says he took part in Jan. 6 march to Capitol but did not storm building Greene apologizes for comparing vaccine rules to Holocaust Pelosi, leaders seek to squelch Omar controversy with rare joint statement MORE (R-Calif.) could be caught in lies about what he said and did that day.


Incredibly there are more than a handful of House Republicans empathetic to the mob that assaulted the Capitol.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP efforts to downplay danger of Capitol riot increase The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida MORE (R-Ga.), the QAnon conspiracy loving newcomer, complained that the arrested protesters are being "abused." Greene, who is so extreme that she is denied any committee assignment, may be the craziest in the caucus — but she is not alone.

The rejoinder is, ‘Okay, both have their fringes.’ Some Democrats, led by the left-wing “squad” and a few veterans like House Banking Committee Chair Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Tulsa marks race massacre centennial as US grapples with racial injustice Fauci may have unwittingly made himself a key witness for Trump in 'China Flu' hate-speech case MORE (D-Calif.), have views and engage in rhetoric that are ill-advised and/or naive: defunding the police, a single payer national health insurance plan, end immigration enforcement, etc.

A few, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), can be formidable when not on an ideological jihad. However outside the mainstream some of these left-wingers may be, they are not dangerous and usually don't threaten violence.

Greene has suggested Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNew Mexico Democrat Stansbury sworn into Haaland's old seat Greene apologizes for comparing vaccine rules to Holocaust Overnight Health Care: Biden pleads for more people to get vaccinated | Harris highlights COVID-19 vaccination safety | Novavax COVID-19 vaccine shown highly effective in trial MORE (D-Calif.) should be shot in the head for treason, compared a congressional mask mandate for the unvaccinated to what Jews suffered in the Holocaust, and recently went after AOC in a shouting tirade. With her, fellow freshmen have swelled the loony ranks. Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.), recently claimed the Jan. 6 mob of Trump supporters behaved in an "orderly fashion," and looked like a "normal tourist visit." In reality, the mob stormed the Capitol, literally broke onto the Senate floor, ransacked offices — and five people died.


The heat-packing Rep. Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertOmar says she's getting death threats over comparison of US and Israel to Hamas and Taliban Colorado lawmakers invite Harris to tour state's space industry Biden adviser says reducing red meat isn't sole climate change solution MORE (R-Colo.) has apparently tried to bring her gun onto the House floor. She is not alone.

These new Trumpites are joining like-minded veterans, a sampling:

Rep. Clay HigginsGlen (Clay) Clay HigginsOf inmates and asylums: Today's House Republicans make the John Birchers look quaint Lawmakers press AbbVie CEO on increased US prices of two drugs READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-La.) threatened to shoot Black Lives Matter protestors: "Have your affairs in order. I wouldn't even spill my beer. I'd drop any ten of you." He complained when Facebook took down his violent threat. The Black Lives Matter protest was peaceful.

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) specializes in incendiary insults and bigotry. In opposing gays and lesbians in the military, the Texas lawmaker, apparently drawing on his historical knowledge, claimed that gays and lesbians are into "massages," which makes them unfit for battle.

Rep. Andy HarrisAndrew (Andy) Peter HarrisGOP's Gohmert, Clyde file lawsuit over metal detector fines House GOP fights back against mask, metal detector fines Sixth House member issued ,000 security screening fine MORE (R-Md.) got so intense in parroting Trump's lies that the election was stolen that he apparently threatened fisticuffs on the House floor. Fortunately for him it, was avoided. A Democrat stepped in: Colin Allred, a former National Football League player.

Rep. Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP 9 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022 MORE (R-Ariz.) falsely charged that the white nationalist Charlottesville violence was started by an "Obama supporter," and, in a detestable lie, charged that Hungarian born liberal philanthropist George Soros, who is Jewish, "turned in his own people to the Nazis" in World War II. Six of Gosar's brothers and sisters charged he was unfit for office; he dismissed them as disgruntled leftists, adding "Stalin would be proud."

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzOutrage grows as Justice seeks to contain subpoena fallout Gaetz, under investigative cloud, questions FBI director House Judiciary releases McGahn testimony on Trump MORE (R-Fla.), one of Trump's chief defenders in the House, has associated with the Proud Boys, a militant white nationalist group involved in the Capitol carnage. He currently is under investigation for alleged sex trafficking with underage girls; a close political associate has pled guilty and reportedly is providing evidence against the lawmaker.

Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksShelby backs ex-aide over Trump-favored candidate in Alabama Senate race GOP lawmaker deletes tweet that appeared to mistakenly reveal email password The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris take US goals abroad MORE (R-Ala.) has done a 180 turn on morality and politics. Five years ago, expressing disgust at Trump's philandering, his "character flaws" and lack of integrity, he seemed to be a Never Trumper. A year later, Brooks supported Alabama Senate candidate Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreShelby backs ex-aide over Trump-favored candidate in Alabama Senate race Of inmates and asylums: Today's House Republicans make the John Birchers look quaint The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings MORE, who was credibly charged with sexual assault. On Jan. 6 he spoke to the Trump protesters before they descended on the Capitol: "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass." He now is running for the Senate in Alabama.

None of this has to do with taxes, national security, abortion or any other traditional conservative Republican position. It has a lot to do with vitriol and hate.

The House, a microcosm of the country, always has had some far-out types. There were John Birchers, communist sympathizers, peddlers of weird conspiracies. But they were a small pack, often isolated.

Today's unhinged House Republicans are a much larger contingent, wielding a lot more clout.

Al Hunt is the former executive editor of Bloomberg News. He previously served as reporter, bureau chief and Washington editor for the Wall Street Journal. For almost a quarter century he wrote a column on politics for The Wall Street Journal, then The International New York Times and Bloomberg View. He hosts Politics War Room with James Carville. Follow him on Twitter @AlHuntDC.