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GOP’s ‘weaponization’ committee celebrates Festivus far too early

Far-right Republicans thought it'd be worthwhile to air weird perceived grievances for more than three hours. The whine festival, however, was pointless.


In 1997, millions of Americans were introduced to an amazing holiday called Festivus by way of a Seinfeld episode called “The Strike.” As the fictional story went, the secular holiday was created by an annoyed Frank Costanza as an alternative to Christmas, and he came up with a series of odd Festivus traditions to help supplement the holiday.

The most memorable was a fairly straightforward exercise: Loved ones celebrating Festivus are supposed to gather for a dinner featuring the “airing of grievances.”

Yesterday on Capitol Hill, Republicans seemed a little too eager to celebrate Festivus in February, instead of December. NBC News reported:

The House’s new subcommittee dedicated to probing the so-called weaponization of the federal government held its first hearing Thursday. The hearing featured a litany of Republican criticisms of Democrats, government and Big Tech that have featured prominently in conservative media over the last several years, from alleged censorship of the right to cancel culture, and from a Department of Justice memo on threats against school boards to re-litigating which party fell prey to Russian disinformation in 2016.

It was, in other words, a multi-hour airing of grievances. The Costanza family would’ve been proud.

For the rest of us, however, it was a mind-numbing and ultimately pointless display, featuring baseless whimpering from far-right officials who apparently assume mainstream Americans are familiar with their weird claims.

A Politico report noted that the House panel’s Republican majority amplified “a long list of perceived slights,” but the hearing, spanning more than three hours, “contained little new information.” A New York Times report added, “There was sinister talk of destructive forces on the left that Republicans said held undue influence both in the United States and globally. Yet there were no fresh revelations.”

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank marveled at the “errant slugs that ricocheted crazily” out of the Republicans’ mouths. The columnist highlighted a special gem from Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin:

“RonAnon” Johnson testified about a conspiracy so huge it includes “most members of the mainstream media, big tech, social media giants, global institutions and foundations, Democrat Party operatives and elected officials,” all working “in concert” with “corrupt individuals within federal agencies” to “defeat their political opponents and promote left-wing ideology and government control over our lives.”

Remember, we’re talking about a three-term senator whom Republicans once put in charge of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, not some troubled rando pushing nonsense to his four Twitter followers.

Worse, this was not the nuttiest line GOP members pushed during yesterday’s whine festival.

The nonsense was exasperating, but it was not surprising. There is no legitimate reason for the “weaponization” committee to exist. As yesterday helped make clear, GOP members’ list of grievances was trivial; their conspiracy theories were, at best, foolish; and their obsessive efforts to present themselves as victims was pitiful.

Revisiting our coverage from last month, I continue to believe it’s tempting to simply roll one’s eyes at this entire endeavor. After all, the committee exists to root out a non-existent federal effort to punish and silence conservatives, and any time Republicans have tried to point to ostensible proof of the alleged phenomenon, their baseless claims have been quickly and easily discredited.

We are, in other words, talking about a committee committed to finding evidence of an imagined scourge, but it won’t — and can’t — succeed in exposing a problem that doesn’t exist.

That said, the fact that the investigation — I’m using the word loosely — is ridiculous doesn’t necessarily mean it’s harmless. Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland warned members yesterday that the select subcommittee “could take oversight over a very dark alley” and that the panel’s name was itself “pure physiological projection.”

“Not because ‘weaponization of the government’ is its target, but because weaponization of the government is its purpose,” Raskin added.