I’ve never voted for congresswoman Jaime Herrera-Beutler. But I may the next time.
The Southwest Washington Republican showed great courage when she voted to impeach former President Donald Trump last month.
She did so again when she told The Daily News last month that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in a phone call with Trump, could not get the president to call off the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters; that Trump falsely asserted that they were antifa supporters; and, finally, that he told the California congressman, “Well, Kevin, I guess that these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
Finally, Herrera Beutler was the lone member of her party last week to call for other Republicans and “patriots” who were with the president that infamous day to come forth with their own accounts.
For these actions, she has been targeted by the extremist wing of the party, which promises to run someone against her if she seeks a seventh term in 2022. Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted, for example, that Herrera Beutler would feel the wrath of Trump supporters and that her comments were, “a gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats.”
Balderdash and poppycock. Herrera Beutler, an independent but basically loyal member of the GOP who opposed the first Trump impeachment, stood up for what is right and truthful. In doing so, she rejected the vitriolic partisan politics that have divided this nation and that the now-departed president so ardently and recklessly cultivated. That she is under attack by her own party is proof of how poisoned and cynical American politics has become.
There is no doubt about it, Trump is responsible for instigating the Capitol riot. It never would have occurred without him. He created an atmosphere of anger and rebellion for months before and after the November presidential election by claiming it was fraudulent and stolen from him. He presented no shred of credible evidence. (In fact, so far, he’s the only one who may have committed election fraud — by pressuring the Georgia secretary of state to find him 11,000 more votes to overturn the state’s electoral outcome.)
The former president primed the fuse. He lit it. And then he reluctantly and tepidly refused to call off the mob he had egged on to do his dirty work. As U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has said, if this isn’t insurrection, what is?
Even some of the president’s most ardent supporters have acknowledged that his actions were reprehensible. Nevertheless, 43 Republican U.S. senators on Saturday voted to acquit him, some citing a belief that it is unconstitutional to put a former president on trial. This is a bogus assertion. Some 150 constitutional scholars from around the nation and from a broad array of political stripes produced a paper on Jan. 21 concluding that “despite our differences, our carefully considered views of the law lead all of us to agree that the Constitution permits the impeachment, conviction, and disqualification of former officers, including presidents. ” Removal from office and disqualification to hold it again, after all, are separate issues. One is not dependent on the other. If you commit a crime, are you immune from trial and punishment if you were not caught in the act?
The GOP senators who voted to acquit Trump dressed their intent up in tawdry constitutional camouflage. They’re trying to have it both ways: distancing themselves from the former president while avoiding the ire of his base. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell enabled this duplicity — by keeping the Senate out of session until after Trump left office on Inauguration Day.
Herrera Beutler rose above such spineless and cynical posturing. She stood up for civic rule over mob violence. She stood up for facts over lies and innuendo. She stood up for constitutional government over the childish ego of a would-be despot.
Her actions are a reminder that good character is the most essential qualification for public office. Trump did not lose the November election mainly because of his policies — a few of which I agreed with — but because of his flawed character and his mishandling of the pandemic.
So, rather than threatening our incumbent congresswoman, Republicans should laud her courage. She rose above raw partisan politics and defended democracy and the Constitution.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.