GOP cheers a ghastly crime

Republicans laugh off responsibility for Paul Pelosi being assaulted in his home.

Paul Pelosi, husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at a White House reception in May 2022.

Paul Pelosi, husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at a White House reception in May. He’s in the hospital recovering after being assaulted by a home invader last week, a crime joked about by some Republicans.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When liberals are being routinely dragged out of their beds at night and killed in the street, decent Americans awaiting their turn will ruefully remember Paul Pelosi.

Not the crime against him, terrible though it is. David DePape, a man apparently deranged by years of drugs and Republican demonization of Nancy Pelosi, is accused of breaking into her home in San Francisco last Friday, shouting “Where’s Nancy?” — the same words used by the Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

In the federal complaint, DePape is quoted saying he was there to break her kneecaps. She was away, so he had to settle with shattering her 82-year-old husband’s skull with a hammer.

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Awful. But that isn’t the haunting part. The haunting part is the reaction after. The gales of GOP laughter, mingled with the lies they immediately, reflexively formed to shrug off responsibility for crime. They imagined the home invasion a hookup gone bad; it is San Francisco, after all, wink wink. Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, used his $44 billion megaphone to magnify that lie.

None of this is new. The GOP has settled into a kind of lurid, unashamed performative cruelty. Yet this reaction to the attack against an elderly man in his home adds a new dimension of true horror to their mockery. Nobody thought of Donald Trump Jr. as anything but a leering, entitled idiot. But to see him tweeting photos of hammers, joined in by his father’s typical gauzy speculation about the reality of various slurs and frauds. It was disgusting in a fresh way. And given the six years of moral collapse this country has been experiencing under the grotesque mass of ethical rot represented by Trump and his imitators, that’s really saying something.

Because if you can chuckle at a grandfather having his skull smashed by a politically deluded lunatic, you can laugh at anything. A molotov cocktail through the window of a progressive school? A baby on a bayonet? Why not? We’ve already seen 20 slaughtered first graders fabulized into “crisis actors,” their grieving parents mocked and tormented by that right-wing darling, Alex Jones.

Maybe a newly Republican Congress will make DePape, apparently in the country illegally, into an honorary citizen. Maybe Trump will give Jones the Medal of Freedom, like Rush Limbaugh. It isn’t improbable. Nothing is improbable. That’s where we’re going. A nightmare world with no rules and no bottom. And for what? All so Donald Trump can finally feel loved.

We might see the attack against Paul Pelosi as a turning point, a one-man Kristallnacht. Though it really isn’t. Just another warning sign flashing by.

In our defense, what were we supposed to do? Vote? That’s asking a lot. In 2020, with democracy imperiled and about as stark a choice as could be imagined, a third of eligible voters still couldn’t find the time. It’ll probably be the same Tuesday. Democrats sitting at home, sighing, while on the TV, there is Kari Lake, Republican candidate for Arizona governor and former TV newsreader, cracking jokes.

“Apparently her house doesn’t have a lot of protection,” Lake quipped, to raucous laughter. Her mask-like face never flickered. She’s a pro.

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake arrives to a rally with former President Donald Trump on Oct. 9, 2022, in Mesa, Ariz.

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake arrives to a rally with former President Donald Trump on Oct. 9, 2022, in Mesa, Ariz.

Associated Press

Also nothing new. Violence and scorn and dehumanization are what permitted slavery, the forced exodus of Native Americans, the Holocaust. Every sneer about liberals is a step toward finally using those guns they so love. That too is not new. Killing folks they don’t like is their brand.

“The savage nuts have shattered the great myth of American decency,” Hunter S. Thompson wrote to a friend on Nov. 22, 1963, after another liberal bit the dust.

Maybe the real problem is the myth. It keeps getting shattered, but it just won’t go away. If the Democrats weren’t so busy being decent, maybe we could have saved our country while there was still time.

There is an endless supply of disturbed persons, and we can expect this dynamic to continue: the enemies of the Republican Party will be mercilessly vilified by GOP leaders, then physically attacked by soft-minded dupes, goaded to action. The same leaders who cheered on the crimes will then turn their palms to the sky and assume their best Donald Trump smirk. “Who me?

At least until, secure in offices they can’t be voted out of, they gain enough confidence to initiate the violence themselves. By then it will be too late. Assuming it isn’t too late already.

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