“…We are gathered at a time when democracy is in crisis,” Sen. Ted Cruz solemnly intoned.

Minutes later, only a few steps from where he was sanctimoniously moralizing that crisis he helped foment became shockingly real.

Incited by the president, who promised “I’ll be there with you” at his “Save America” rally but was predictably absent when things went horribly sideways, his supporters marched off to Capitol Hill Wednesday morning , urged by Rudy Giuliani to do “trial by combat” if lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence didn’t do their bidding. There the House and Senate were meeting in joint session to accept Electoral College vote summaries, a ceremonial task Trumpian logic falsely claimed could be delayed or rejected by Congress.

“I will personally work to defeat every single Republican Senator/Congressman who doesn’t stand up,” Eric Trump had said earlier, threatening those in what his father dubbed “the surrender caucus.”

“…We are all watching,” Donald Trump Jr. warned lawmakers while speaking at the rally. “Choose wisely.”

“American Patriots” Ivanka Trump dubbed the insurgents as they raged inside the halls of Congress, later hastily deleting her tweet.

Most of us wouldn’t apply that appellation to thugs who broke windows to obtain entrance to “the people’s house,” paraded Confederate flags along with their Trump banners outside and inside as they ransacked and posed, and had to be faced down at point-blank range by armed Capitol police as they attempted to batter in doors to the House chambers. They forced a temporary halt to acceptance of the Electoral College vote while the Secret Service and other protective agencies hustled Vice President Pence and lawmakers and their staffs to safe rooms.

Did they Make American Great Enough for you, Lauren Boebert? Was Stopping the (Fake) Steal worth four deaths, Doug Lamborn?

Two images remain indelibly imbedded in my mind. The first of Capitol Police behind a hurriedly arranged blockade of furniture, arms extended with handguns raised, ready to fire at rioters peering through a broken window of the door into the House chamber.

And Rep. Jason Crow crouched behind nearby seats, the combat veteran holding the hand of a fellow House member as she shook in fear.

Hours later, rioters driven off Capitol grounds at dusk, House and Senate members returned to complete their work — the inevitable certification of Joe Biden as the 46th president and Kamala Harris as vice president. The domestic terrorists’ “trial by combat” added to more than 60 other losses by Trump, Giuliani and team in their futile bid to overturn results of the November election. Insult to injury came with news the second Georgia Senate seat had flipped, leaving Democrats in control of both legislative branches as well as, come Jan. 20, the executive branch.

If the day’s events hadn’t been so tragic, it would have been profitable to have the massage and muscle ointment concession on Capitol Hill. The afternoon and evening contortions of Republicans anxious to deflect blame for the rioting they incited were world class.

Give Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence some credit for finally doing the right things, late to the game as they were. Not so much for the GOP enablers suddenly rushing to microphones and their telephones to profess surprise and disappointment with the very behavior they’d fomented and sometimes praised.

Cruz, Kevin McCarthy, Lindsay Graham, Josh Hawley and more than 100 others desperately tried to deflect criticism and blame, attempting to douse the fire after first having poured gasoline on the flames. The three younger Trumps did the same, the equivalent of meaningless “thoughts and prayers” sentiments we hear in lieu of concrete action to prevent the next go-round of mass shootings. Best their father could do when forced to release a delayed video statement was to first repeat discredited claims about the election before offering weak support for embattled law officers but skipping any criticism of rioters.

What’s next?

There’s renewed talk of impeachment, which seems impossible in the time remaining even with Democrats now in control. There’s encouragement for Vice President Pence and a majority of the Cabinet to remove Trump, citing lack of competence. Interesting that use of that 25th Amendment remedy was first mentioned before Wednesday’s carnage by that ultra-liberal group, the National Association of Manufacturers. Not likely to happen either.

We’re left to keep all appendages firmly crossed for a few more days. God knows what still might come before Jan. 20.

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Comments welcome to speharjim@gmail.com.

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