It's easy to forget, but in the immediate aftermath of Jan. 6, Florida Sen. Rick Scott appeared to be in a difficult position. The Republican was one of the eight GOP senators who voted at least once to reject President Joe Biden's electoral college votes, even after the deadly insurrectionist riot, and as corporate donors started closing their wallets, it seemed likely to affect Scott.
As we discussed at the time, the Floridian wasn't an obscure back-bencher on Capitol Hill; Scott had recently been named the new chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The New York Times' Maggie Haberman noted just days after the attack that there was a "very real concern" among Republicans working on Senate races that Scott might undermine the NRSC's fundraising efforts.
Nine months later, all of this is a distant memory. The Hill reported yesterday:
Senate Republicans' campaign arm hauled in over $25 million in the third quarter of 2021, a hefty haul as the battle for the upper chamber heats up. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) said the figure was fueled by $9.5 million in September alone and that its entire fundraising for all of 2021 thus far totals $76.2 million. The group also has $27.7 million cash on hand and no debt.
MSNBC's Chris Hayes responded to the news with a tweet that rang true: "Rick Scott voted with the mob on January 6th to overturn the election and keep Trump in power against the will of the voters. As shameful a vote that has been cast in that chamber since the civil war. And it's like nothing ever happened. Checks still flowing!"
In January, Scott was one of eight senators who chose to betray democracy. Nine months later, he's the celebrated NRSC chair whose Jan. 6 perfidy has had no discernable effects on raking in millions.
The problem, of course, is not limited to the far-right Floridian. This morning, Politico's Sam Stein reported that Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chamber's oldest and longest serving GOP member, will join the former president at a rally in Iowa this weekend.
Nine months ago yesterday, Grassley called the Jan. 6 attack "an attack on American democracy itself." He added, "I condemn today's violence in the strongest terms and perpetrators deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Soon after, the Iowa Republican said, "President Trump continued to argue that the election had been stolen even though the courts didn't back up his claims. He belittled and harassed elected officials across the country to get his way. He encouraged his own, loyal vice president, Mike Pence, to take extraordinary and unconstitutional actions during the Electoral College count.... There's no doubt in my mind that President Trump's language was extreme, aggressive, and irresponsible."
This weekend, he'll nevertheless stand alongside the man who helped incite the riot.
It's the same man who this week said "the real insurrection" was the American election, not the violent attack from those who rejected the results of that election.
In theory, a veteran senator like Grassley — who first began serving in Congress in 1975 — would be the kind of serious elder statesmen who would help steer his political party away from an authoritarian like Trump. In practice, Grassley is running for re-election, which renders Trump's scandals insignificant.
And there's no reason to stop with Grassley. The Washington Post published a striking analysis yesterday that read, "The story of Jan. 6 wound up being an entirely familiar exercise in the modern GOP. Republicans felt emboldened to speak out against President Donald Trump when they believed he had finally gone too far, only to find out the base very much disagreed. So they had to scurry to put the party back together — Trump and all — by softening or disowning their initial verdicts."
What followed was a lengthy list of prominent Republican voices who blasted Trump for his role in the Capitol attack nine months ago, only to scurry back in the opposite direction when they realized the GOP base was sticking with him and not them.
It's tempting to say Republicans have forgotten about Jan. 6, but that's not quite right. The party still remembers the insurrectionist riot; it just doesn't care anymore. Much of the GOP has decided to rewrite the story, recasting the villains as heroes and sympathetic victims, while others in the party have settled on indifference, both to the violence and those responsible for whipping the rioters into a frenzy.
It as powerful an indictment against the modern Republican Party as any I can think of.