When Walter Mondale, the former Vice-President, died on Monday, C-span circulated a video clip of him on the rostrum of the House of Representatives, from January 6, 1981. It is a remarkable visual snippet of a lost Washington. Mondale and President Jimmy Carter had just been defeated in a landslide by Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, receiving only forty-nine Electoral College votes to the Republicans’ four hundred and eighty-nine. The video shows Mondale dutifully carrying out his constitutionally assigned function of presiding over a special session of Congress certifying the results. First, Mondale, smiling, reads out the Presidential tally. Democrats and Republicans leap to their feet to applaud Reagan’s win. Then Mondale, still smiling, reads out the Vice-Presidential results. “Walter F. Mondale, of the state of Minnesota, has received forty-nine votes,” he says, before turning and making a wry but audible aside to Tip O’Neill, the legendary Democratic Speaker of the House. “A landslide,” Mondale jokes. “Very impressive,” O’Neill replies. Once again, the entire chamber rises. Republicans and Democrats give Mondale, the portrait of a classy loser, a standing ovation.
It’s hard to imagine that Mondale—or anyone in that forty-year-old video—could have conceived of a January 6th like the one we had this year, and of a President like Donald Trump who would decisively lose reëlection but not concede defeat, one who would unleash a mob of his supporters on the Capitol itself to stop his own Vice-President from doing his constitutional duty and ratifying that defeat. In two minutes and sixteen seconds, that decades-old video clip conveys the cost of our descent into the politics of performative confrontation, capturing the chasm between a democracy that worked and one that, today, does not.
Next Wednesday, President Joe Biden is set to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress, on the eve of his hundredth day in office. Outside the Capitol, newly erected fences and a heavy National Guard presence attest to the lingering scars of our own January 6th. But January 6th denialism has taken hold in Trump and many of his supporters—even some inside Congress. They now claim the horrific events of that day were merely a peaceful protest, and they continue to refuse to accept the legitimacy of Biden’s win. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been unable to reach a deal with Republicans to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol. [Continue reading…]
An Oath Keepers leader’s chilling correspondence with another person who allegedly fantasized about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “head rolling down the front steps” persuaded a federal judge on Friday that he should be kept behind bars pending trial.
Chafing at his incarceration, the militia group’s Florida leader Kelly Meggs urged a federal judge to reverse a previous decision denying his pre-trial release. In a dense, 3-page order, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta offered many reasons why his prior ruling should not be disturbed. [Continue reading…]