American Opinion: Republicans must stop defending an ex-president who defends death threats
American Opinion: A president who slanders and undermines that process, incites an attempt to violently overthrow an election, and now suggests that death threats against his own vice president were valid has no business being anywhere near power. Nor does any other politician too cowardly to look into the cameras and say that.
In a newly released interview, former President Donald Trump was asked about the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters who threatened to kill Vice President Mike Pence . Did Trump respond as any responsible adult would, and condemn that threat? Of course not. Repeating his delusional claim that Pence could have overturned the election, Trump defended the rioters’ fury at his vice president, calling it “common sense.”
With the possibility of another Trump presidential run still in play, every Republican officeholder who hasn’t yet disavowed him — which is most of them — should be asked to defend this latest, most grotesque evidence of his unfitness. If they can’t (and they can’t), then why are they still enabling him?
Throughout his presidency, Trump refused to condemn dangerous acts against America when committed by people he viewed as being personally on his side. In Helsinki, he shocked the world by taking Vladimir Putin ’s word over American intelligence regarding Russian election meddling. After the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia , Trump declared there were “very fine people” on both sides — even though one side included white supremacists.
When asked during a debate last year to disavow support from the racist Proud Boys , Trump instead told them to “stand back and stand by.” Even as the violence raged on Jan. 6, Trump’s video message to the rioters included, “We love you.”
And now Trump cannot muster even the mildest rebuke for the insurrectionist thugs who prowled the Capitol in his honor, chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!”
In the newly released audio of the recent interview, Jonathan Karl of ABC News aptly notes that the chants were “terrible.” Trump responds: “Well, the people were very angry” at Pence for failing to invalidate the election (something which, in fact, Pence had no power to do).
“It’s common sense, Jon. … How can you — if you know a vote is fraudulent, right? — how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress? How can you do that?” Trump added.
Not, How can you threaten the life of the vice president? But rather: How could Pence not have overturned the election for me?
To the inevitable chorus asking why we’re still focusing on a former president’s obvious psychosis: because poll after poll shows Trump is still the front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. He has never garnered majority national support — not in any reputable poll and not in either of his presidential elections — but as 2016 demonstrated, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be seated again as president under America’s electoral process.
A president who slanders and undermines that process, incites an attempt to violently overthrow an election, and now suggests that death threats against his own vice president were valid has no business being anywhere near power. Nor does any other politician too cowardly to look into the cameras and say that.
This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
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