The first part of Rep. Mo Brooks' (R-Ala.) statement yesterday was benign. As a right-wing North Carolina man threatened to detonate a bomb near the U.S. Capitol, the Alabama congressman said he prayed for the safety of first responders and lamented violence targeting political institutions.
But then the Republican kept going, adding, "Although this terrorist's motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of American society." After encouraging his likeminded allies to vote, Brooks concluded, "Bluntly stated, America's future is at risk."
It was problematic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the congressman expressing tacit sympathy for extremists' motives.
The Democratic pushback was almost immediate. "It is astonishing that this needs to be said but no one who serves in Congress should be expressing public sympathy with the views of a terrorist who threatened to blow up the U.S. Capitol," Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted. "I would have thought we could all at least agree on that."
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) added, in reference to Brooks, "I know it seems like hyperbole when we say that Republicans have become enemies of democracy, but here is a mainstream Republican TAKING THE SIDE OF THE BOMBER."
He added in another tweet: "The GOP has a decision to make. Are we going to be the party that keeps stoking sympathy for domestic terrorists and pushes out truth, or finally take a stand for truth. I've made my decision, so has Mo. Now it's up to GOP conference leadership to make theirs."
A Washington Post report added, "Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), have largely remained silent about Brooks's tweet."
To be sure, this isn't altogether surprising. When propriety and partisanship are at odds, House GOP leaders invariably prioritize the latter. Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team also "remained silent" about Rep. Paul Gosar's (R-Ariz.) association with white nationalists. And about Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-Ga.) routine radicalism. And about related controversies surrounding far too many members of the House Republican conference.
It appears the only GOP member facing the public ire of her party is Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who had the audacity to push Republicans to value core tenets of democracy more than Donald Trump.
Kinzinger's point is well taken; the House Republican conference does have "a decision to make." By all appearances, however, the party has already made its decision, and it's siding with Brooks and others like him.