CNN on Thursday aired harrowing audio of the kind of intimidation and threats that an increasing number of Republican lawmakers says they’ve faced over their opposition to the speakership bid of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). And it’s ugly. The caller leaves a message for an unnamed lawmaker’s wife and, while repeatedly qualifying that they aren’t talking about violence, they do threaten to harass the woman endlessly in public.
The caller says the woman’s husband must vote “Jim Jordan or more conservative, or you’re going to be [expletive] molested like you can’t ever imagine.”
The predominant narrative is that these threats — which Jordan has now rebuked but for which some members blame him — failed or even backfired. Jordan lost a third straight vote on Friday before the GOP conference bowed to reality and voted against proceeding with him as its speaker designate.
While some GOP lawmakers on the verge of retirement have in the past occasionally decried the scourge of threats in the Trump era, we’re seeing it suddenly from a whole bunch of lawmakers who still have political skin in the game.
I argued Wednesday that this is a significant moment — when so many members with their careers intact unite to repudiate these threats. It has occasioned a long-overdue conversation about their role.
But that conversation also should include a recognition that these threats and intimidation can work, and probably have. [Continue reading…]