The voters of Nevada County have decisively rejected Congressmen Doug LaMalfa and Tom McClintock in the last couple of general elections, wisdom borne out by events surrounding the Capitol riots.
Still, we paint with too broad a brush when we lump LaMalfa and McClintock together. While neither was happy with the victory of Joe Biden, the two staunch conservatives parted ways in a manner that shows who puts the well-being of the country before the extremist fantasies of some Americans.
LaMalfa and McClintock questioned the integrity of the vote in several states, and both signed on to a suit brought by Texas that attempted to invalidate the vote in four swing states that went to Biden. They parted ways when the Supreme Court summarily rejected the suit.
McClintock gave up the fight and sided with the “surrender caucus,” saying in part: “I believe that fraud may indeed have occurred and that some states and courts have done a poor job of assuring the integrity of the vote and investigating allegations of fraud. But that does not give Congress the power to seize the power accorded to the states and the courts to itself. Period.”
As McClintock correctly noted, the text of the original charter, elaborated by the 12th Amendment, gives state legislatures the power to appoint electors. Nobody else, whether it’s the courts or the vice president, has the power to change that.
But LaMalfa, who has no discernible training in the law, helped reinforce the lie fed to millions of gullible Trump supporters that Congress could overturn the election results. “After the election,” he said, “it became a political issue and courts sidestepped the question using ‘standing,’ ‘procedure,’ and some sloppy work by the Trump legal team.”
More than 50 actions brought by lawyers in support of Trump were rejected by the courts, many by conservative judges appointed by Trump. The president’s political defenders didn’t allege specific acts of fraud. Instead, they cited “allegations of fraud and irregularities” that feed “deep distrust” of the results—distrust they and the president have fed.
LaMalfa is right about sloppy legal work. Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, L. Lin Wood and others promoted claims of fraud, asserting evidence of corruption and insisting they had proof of a massive conspiracy to elect Biden. But their purported eyewitnesses and experts repeatedly failed to produce actual proof that could satisfy judges.
One suit that involved Powell and Wood alleged Michigan election officials used software designed by foreign dictators to manipulate the vote. Powell is currently being sued for libel and slander by Dominion Voting Systems, which supplied election equipment in several states.
Trump and his enablers can’t explain why other Republicans did so well on the ballot, cutting into the Democratic majority in the House and holding onto the Senate until Trump, is an act of spite, torpedoed the two Georgia Senate races. Democrats tried to flip 10 Republican state legislatures in November, and went 0-10.
Yet we are expected to believe that people who threw out Trump votes or created fictitious Biden votes gave Republicans a free ride elsewhere on the ballot. I suppose you can make the case—and I’m sure somebody did—that they let the Republicans win other races to cover the fraud. The more likely case is that people were tired of four years of buffoonery in the White House.
LaMalfa could not be unaware of the dangers created by the lies he and others validated with their repeated assertions of massive voting irregularities that would overturn the election results. Social media was filled with threats to elected officials and calls for people to mass in Washington, D.C., leading up to Jan. 6.
Many law abiding citizens may well have attended the “Stop the Steal/Save America” rally that preceded the invasion of the nation’s Capitol, but there were plenty of others who were bent on mayhem and destruction. Why else would they show up with long guns, stun guns, machetes, Molotov cocktails, explosive devices and zip ties?
When his fellow Republicans incited the crowd with comments like “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and start kicking ass” (Rep. Mo Brooks) or who referred to Biden as an “illegitimate usurper” and Trump as the victim of a “coup” (Rep. Paul Gosar), did it occur to LaMalfa that perhaps this has gone too far?
You wouldn’t know it from his statements and actions. LaMalfa voted to challenge the electoral votes from Pennsylvania and Arizona (McClintock opposed both motions) after issuing a statement from his “secured location” that the violence “no matter by who or for what reason is inexcusable and must be dealt with immediately, forcefully and with the full force of the law.”
LaMalfa was feinting concern for the fire after putting down his flamethrower, and made no mention of the man who lit the match. McClintock, appearing Jan. 6 on Fox Business, said twice that he needed to be careful about what he said because he was “so angry,” but made it clear he was not happy with Trump’s actions that day.
When the House debate on impeachment began last week, LaMalfa wrote on his Facebook page, “…there simply hasn’t been an impeachable offense that was committed by the president.” (He might want to consult with minority leader Kevin McCarthy, whip Steve Scalise, and conference chair Liz Cheney, the top-ranking Republicans in the House. All three pinned the blame on Trump, and Cheney voted for impreachment.)
It’s hard to fathom why LaMalfa continues to support behavior that’s injurious to the country he professes to love, but three possibilities come to mind:
–He truly believes the irrational fantasy that enough votes were compromised in the election to make Joe Biden the winner. If that’s the reason, he’s incompetent to serve in office.
–He views his position as a cynical political ploy. A poll taken after the Capitol riots showed that 87% of Republicans surveyed still back Trump, and if there’s one thing all politicians read, it’s political polls.
–He fears for his life. When Lindsey Graham is taunted as a “traitor” and the rioters at the Capitol chanted “Hang Mike Pence!,” any elected Republican is justified in thinking twice before casting an anti-Trump vote.
LaMalfa has always been a reliable foot soldier for Trump, content to do his bidding in the one-way process that passes for loyalty with the president. His one attempt at meaningful bipartisan legislation to ease the worker shortage for farmers got the cold shoulder from the White House.
Until Jan. 6, Doug LaMalfa was just another anonymous cipher, part of a long-line of mediocre elected officials who will be little noted or long remembered. Now, if he’s remembered at all, it will be as part of the Republican insurrection cabal.
Observations from the center stripe: Insurrection edition
REP. DOUG LaMalfa was one of nine GOP congressmen who didn’t wear masks while waiting out the Capitol riot in his “secured location.” Three congressmen in that group have since been diagnosed with COVID-19…MIKE PENCE is being hailed as a hero for doing what the Constitution said he was supposed to do. No wonder he’s a pariah with Trump…SHE MAY be new, but Rep. Lauren Boebert shows the potential to become the biggest looney in Congress since Michele Bachmann retired…REPUBLICANS ARE being disingenuous for opposing impeachment because it will be divisive. They were silent for four years while Trump did everything he could to foster an “us” versus “them” environment…THERE ARE reports that Trump is stiffing Rudy Giuliani for his legal fees. If true, it’s another example of Trump’s one-way loyalty…