Last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol by the mob enraged by Donald Trump will forever be ensconced as one of the most shameful events in the history of this nation. Equally shameful are the phony mea culpas and resignations now being issued by formerly staunch enablers of this most disgraceful and mendacious president. But at this point, with deaths and destruction in the wake of the Capitol riot, their sudden awareness of Trump’s enormous responsibility — and their complicity — for the attacks on our democracy is too little, too late, and way too fake.
For five long years the American public has been drowned in a non-stop wave of lies emanating from Trump and his lackeys. We have been told to hate our fellow citizens for no reason other than to create chaos, division and an ugly sideshow to distract from the enormous damage a psychotic and malignant president and his sycophants were wreaking on our democracy.
How long should it have taken these chest-pounding right-wing politicians to figure out they were part and parcel of the tragic insurrection that overran the “shining beacon on the hill” and forever dimmed its light?
How could any congressman or senator who took an oath to defend the Constitution “against all enemies foreign or domestic” allow the madman in the Oval Office to tell Americans that our foundational freedom of the press was “an enemy of the people” for four long years?
How could they allow Trump to foment sedition by attacking the validity of the November election when dozens of their lawsuits were thrown out as baseless — even by judges Trump appointed and the Republican Senate confirmed without a shred of due diligence?
How could Montana’s Republican Sen. Steve Daines credibly object to the certification of the electoral votes — only to quash his objection after the very people he was empowering rampaged through the Capitol in a wave of mindless destruction, sending senators and representatives fleeing for their lives?
How could Montana’s new Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale justify his support for Trump’s mob politics and false claims of an illegitimate election when the same election and the same mail-in ballots put him in Congress?
And how can our new Republican Governor, Greg Gianforte continue to blather about “personal responsibility” in light of the storming of the very chambers where he spent his years in Congress? Where, governor, was the personal responsibility of those members of your own political party who ransacked the nation’s Capitol and tore down American flags to replace them with Trump flags? Do you really expect us to trust these same delusional fanatics to take “personal responsibility,” wear a mask and social distance to combat the pandemic that took 4,000 American lives on the very day they ransacked the Capitol?
It’s pitiful to watch the rats now jumping off Trump’s rapidly sinking ship. We are supposed to somehow believe that the blinders have suddenly been removed from their eyes and the reality of a fear-mongering president who has no respect for law, the Constitution, the separation of powers, and the checks and balances they uphold is only now revealed in all its disgusting truth.
Actions speak louder than words. As we say in Montana, the after-the-fact apologies of these former staunch Trump supporters are “a day late and a dollar short.” The record is clear, it will not be expunged, and it’s way past time for a full repudiation of the hatred and division Trump spawned – and that for too long you scoundrels have cravenly embraced.
George Ochenski writes from Helena. His column appears each Monday on the Missoulian's Opinion page. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.