RNC censure of Kinzinger, Cheney could backfire for Illinois Republicans
The conservative National Review found the censure wording “political malpractice of the highest order coming from people whose entire job is politics.”
WASHINGTON — The Republican National Committee censure of Reps. Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney — supported by the two Illinois members of the RNC — has the potential to cause far more political problems for GOP candidates in Illinois than for the Republicans the party punished for their membership on the Jan. 6 committee.
What happened: On Friday, the RNC on a voice vote approved a resolution to censure Kinzinger, of Illinois, and Cheney, of Wyoming, and “no longer support them as members of the Republican party.”
Illinois National Committeeman Richard Porter and Illinois National Committeewoman Demetra DeMonte, members of the RNC, supported the measure.
Backfire: The censure resolution has backfire potential for Republicans because it said that Kinzinger and Cheney, the only two Republicans on the Jan. 6 panel, are participating in “a Democratic-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse, and they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes.”
The problem: This “ordinary citizens” statement. Obviously, the Democrats can exploit this — the ad writes itself about violent rioters being “ordinary citizens.” On the other side of the coin, Republicans in primaries trying to out-Trump their competition — and make heroes out of the Jan. 6 mob — got a gift.
Who are the RNC’s “ordinary citizens?” Since the RNC wording is vague on that, a reasonable takeaway is that it is a reference to the mob attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 to prevent Vice President Mike Pence from certifying Joe Biden’s victory.
On Saturday and Sunday, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, on the defensive, labeled media reports quoting from the resolution a “lie.” She didn’t clarify anything.
DeMonte told me in an e-mail, “Yes. I voted for the resolution.”
“Unfortunately,” she said, there has been “false reporting” because the RNC “denounces all acts of political violence and lawlessness.”
However, that’s not mentioned in the resolution, mainly a 10-paragraph manifesto against Biden and Democrats in Congress with the “ordinary citizens” thrown in.
Porter told the New York Times, “The nominal Republicans on the committee provide a pastiche of bipartisanship, but no genuine protection or due process for the ordinary people who did not riot being targeted and terrorized by the committee.”
Accusing the press of “false reporting” is an attempt to deflect attention from the RNC’s self-inflicted wound.
In another email, DeMonte said, “Leave it to the liberal news media to falsely publish baseless and false propaganda.”
I appreciate DeMonte exchanging emails with me Saturday and Sunday. Let’s keep the communication open.
But this is not about how the “liberal” press is reporting the story.
Political malpractice: That’s the conclusion of the conservative National Review.
Their editorial, posted Saturday, concluded, “Fair-minded people can, of course, criticize” some of the Jan. 6 committee’s actions. “To say that investigation and prosecution are justified is not to defend every aspect of the hundreds of criminal prosecutions, or to bless the Democrats’ norm-breaking partisanship on the January 6 committee.
“But the RNC has issued a statement, purportedly in the name of the entire party, denouncing “a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse” and “Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes.” This will, quite predictably and not wholly unreasonably, be read as an argument that the action of the mob was nothing but “legitimate political discourse” and that nobody should be prosecuted.
“It will be used against hundreds of elected Republicans who were not consulted in its drafting and do not endorse its sentiment. To the extent that the party did not intend this as the meaning — and RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, already doing damage control, says it was not meant that way — its wording is political malpractice of the highest order coming from people whose entire job is politics.”
Background: Why two Republicans on the Jan. 6 panel? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last year vetoed putting Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., on the panel, so House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled his three other GOP picks, leaving Pelosi free to tap Kinzinger and Cheney. Jordan was seen from the start as part of the probe — and he has emerged as a “material witness” for the Jan. 6 panel.
What the censure means for Kinzinger: Nothing. He’s not running again. His future path, wherever it leads, is not impacted by the censure. Might help him in fundraising.
Said Kinzinger in a statement, “Rather than focus their efforts on how to help the American people, my fellow Republicans have chosen to censure two lifelong Members of their party for simply upholding their oaths of office.
“They’ve allowed conspiracies and toxic tribalism hinder their ability to see clear-eyed.”