December 7. November 22. September 11.
Now we should add January 6 to that list.
Most were afraid that a bipartisan commission would bring up new information that would make the party look bad in the next election. They were being intimidated by Trumpist thugs peddling the Big Lie. This is the moral equivalent of 9/11 truthers being allowed to derail a 9/11 commission – which is unthinkable.
But what can Democrats actually do in response?
Glad you asked.
The O.G. talking filibuster is a pain. It’s public — and drags on for hours or days. But it’s consistent with the idea that filibusters are supposed to be stands of conscience — not secret rubber stamps for partisan obstruction.
Republicans want to stop talking about the attack on our Capitol, so they should have been made to talk about it for a long time — attempting to diminish the importance of the attacks, as the Capitol police, and the country, look on.
The fact that it would have delayed their Memorial Day break would have been entirely appropriate. Instead, they were allowed to double down on their endorsement of insurrection amnesia. It’s just one more reason why the time has come for filibuster reform.
So now it’s time for Plan B: a House Select Committee — with a twist.
Democrats could unilaterally convene a committee, asking Republican John Katko of New York, who negotiated the deal, to serve as co-chair.
This committee would have subpoena power to get testimony from witnesses ranging from McCarthy himself to former President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and even former Vice President Mike Pence. They would no doubt resist those subpoenas in court, but the longer that delay tactic drags on, the closer it could bring them to the next election — something they desperately want to avoid.
Here’s how it could work:
The attorney general could appoint a special counsel to investigate the insurrection and sedition, given that President Joe Biden was a party in the election.
The special counsel could deputize Justice Department lawyers from the public integrity division with subpoena powers to look at the digital records surrounding the attack.
He or she would then convene a bipartisan citizens commission — led by respected officials like Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, Jeh Johnson and Fran Townsend — to hold public hearings, resulting in an authoritative official report and recommendations. This would in effect reverse engineer the bipartisan commission that Republicans rejected.
These hardball alternatives would require Democrats to push back strongly, but they are necessary now that the GOP has killed the commission. Attempts to diminish democracy’s norms demand tough action.
What’s clear is that if we cannot unite and reason together after an attack on our democracy, then it will only embolden future insurrection attempts — and that is unacceptable. We must defend our democracy by any lawful means necessary.
This piece has been updated to reflected the latest developments on the Jan. 6 commission.