Normally a bipartisan commission requires agreement on propositions such as “a mass terrorist attack on the USA is bad,” and, much more controversially, “a mob storming the Capitol in an attempt to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election is bad.”
For a few days after the 1/6 attack on Congress, most Republicans were willing to sign onto the latter proposition. Those days are gone, and they aren’t coming back:
In the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection, when both parties agreed on the need for an investigation into the attack, the shorthand that entered the lexicon was 9/11-style commission. When, on January 12, Illinois Republican Rodney Davis introduced a bill to create a commission, he noted that “the commission’s structure is in line with the 9/11 Commission.” “Momentum is growing on Capitol Hill for an independent 9/11-style commission,” reported The Hill later that month.
But when media accounts these days describe the political wrangling over the investigation, the once-ubiquitous term now rarely appears. The reason for this is that the entire political context for the investigation has changed. The insurrection was briefly considered an event akin to 9/11: an outside attack, which in its horror would unite the parties. . .
In the weeks since Washington briefly came together in shared outrage, Republicans have considered, and then rejected, impeaching Donald Trump over the attempted coup, then voted down a bipartisan commission in the Senate.
Trump, for his part, has energetically written the history of the episode.He has described the mob as a “a loving crowd” desiring only a fair outcome who were “ushered in by the police” only to be savagely attacked and murdered.
Not all, or even most, Republicans have gone so far as to affirmatively endorse this delusional revisionist narrative. But they have no desire either to revive their short-lived attempt to write the rioters out of the Republican party or to refute Trump’s campaign of lies about it.
Banks has dismissed the investigation as an effort to “malign conservatives.” He is not wrong, though there is a circularity to his reasoning. In the immediate aftermath of the insurrection, conservatives attacked it forcefully. Had they maintained that position, the investigation would not have threatened them. But since they have decided instead to defend it, anything that casts the riot in a bad light will necessarily besmirch the party that defends the rioters. That is a political choice, not an impersonal law of political physics.
The scrambling and confusion is the result of the fact that the January 6 commission was conceived in a political context that no longer exists. Congress never would have had a “9/11-style commission” if the hijackers had been supporters of, and had received support from, one of the political parties.
As is so often the case these days, what just a few years ago would have surely been hysterical hyperbole is just a straightforward recitation of the facts of the matter: Donald Trump incited a violent mob to attempt to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, and, since Donald Trump remains the unchallenged leader of the Republican party, that means Republicans have to either enthusiastically support what Trump did, or, in the alternative, try to gaslight everyone with the claim that what happened didn’t happen.
The latter claim is embraced by plenty of crypto-fascists and Reasonable Centrists, who want to keep pretending that Trump isn’t the leader of a fascist movement, that has completely taken over the Republican party. But he is and it has.