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Republicans complain Pelosi isn't civil enough after defending Trump's behavior for years

Republicans are conveniently ignoring their own misdeeds over the years as they attempt to make an issue out of Pelosi’s response to Trump’s State of the Union address.

By Josh Israel - February 06, 2020
Matt Gaetz

Congressional Republicans have spent much of the past two days pearl-clutching after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up a copy of Donald Trump’s lie-riddled State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.

But many of the same people now expressing indignation over Pelosi’s act have shown little outrage about Trump’s own chronic incivility, not to mention the wildly inappropriate behavior by Congressional Republicans.

On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy lambasted Pelosi (D-CA) in a Fox News interview. “What Nancy Pelosi did went beyond rules of the House,” he said, agreeing that “she should either apologize or resign.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, on the same program, asked, “What kind of example does that set for the American people about how we ought to conduct ourselves? I mean, have we forgotten how to be civil to each other.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) announced that he would file an ethics complaint against Pelosi for conduct “beneath the dignity of the House.” (Gaetz himself has recently faced investigations for witness intimidation while serving in Congress.)

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) filed a resolution of disapproval, objecting to the Speaker’s “breach of decorum” that “degraded the proceedings of the joint session.”

That exact language was used 11 years ago in another House resolution of disapproval after Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) screamed “You lie!” during President Barack Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress about health care reform.

Back then, both McCarthy (R-CA) and Granger were among the 167 Republicans who voted against condemning Wilson’s heckling.

The GOP lawmakers complaining about Pelosi have thus far been silent about several other acts of incivility by members of their own party during the same event.

Upon entering the chamber, Trump pointedly declined to shake hands with Pelosi on the dais. At the beginning of his address, several Republican lawmakers turned the speech into a Trump campaign rally and began chanting “Four more years!” in a historic breach of decorum. Trump then used his speech to smear Congressional Democrats as wanting to “let socialism destroy American health care.”

Over the years, Republicans lawmakers have mostly excused or ignored Trump’s incivility.

He has frequently insulted Pelosi, calling her “Nervous Nancy” more than a dozen times and belittling her as a “nasty, vindictive, horrible person.”

Trump has used mocking nicknames and publicly insulted an array of lawmakers from both parties, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Kirsten Gillibrand, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

He publicly accused House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff of “fraud & treason” for investigating the Ukraine scandal and paraphrasing a telephone call.

On Thursday, Trump even questioned his critics’ faith. In a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast of all places, he pointedly scolded Pelosi (who said recently that she prays for Trump) and Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney (who cited his faith in explaining his vote to convict Trump for abuse of power in the impeachment trial).

“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong, nor do I like people who say ‘I pray for you’ when they know that that’s not so,” Trump declared, as Pelosi sat listening.

No Republican lawmaker called on him to resign for any of those attacks.

Republicans also ignored their own history of derogatory behavior, which they did little to condemn or address at the time.

Last year, Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) yelled “go back to Puerto Rico” during a House speech by Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA). Smith later apologized, saying it had been a reference to a recent visit by House and Senate Democrats to the territory.

During President Barack Obama’s time in office, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) called him “stupid” in a 2012 tweet. Then-Rep. Allen West (R-FL) claimed without evidence that same year that “78 to 81” House Democrats were actually Communists.

In 2010, then-Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) interrupted a speech by then-Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) about abortion language in the Affordable Care Act. “It’s a baby killer,” Neugebauer yelled. He too later apologized.

Republicans demanded no resignations in any of those cases.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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