My but what short memories we have.
The same people who today suggest U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah, among others, should resign his seat and that Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, among others, should step down for objecting to certification of electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden last week are some of the same people who applauded challenges to President George W. Bush's electoral votes in 2005 and those for President-elect Donald Trump in 2017.
Just four years ago, Biden, as the outgoing vice president, presided over the official tallying of votes for Trump and had to gavel down objections from Democrats to individual state votes 11 times because each objection needed to be in writing and needed to be signed by a House member and Senate member. None was.
On several occasions, House members had to have their microphones turned off, and in another instance protesters in the visitors gallery began yelling. One had to be removed by security.
In 2004, Sen. (then-U.S. Rep.) Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, called the objections to Bush's vote certification "a very valuable public service" and said Americans "should all be troubled by reports of voting problems in many parts of the country." Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, thanked those who objected and said members had a chance" to look at a challenge not just in the last election in one State but in many States."
As you might imagine, neither one of those still-serving congressmen felt the same way this year.
Both Fleischmann and Hawley, like Van Hollen and Durbin, have said their objections were to call attention to voting irregularities in general across the country.
His vote, the 3rd District congressman said, was for the "sake of our republic and getting elections right in the future. This is about process, it's about making sure that whether someone's in Tennessee, Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania, that one legal person get one legal vote and nothing short of that.
"We owe it to the American people to get it right," Fleischmann said. "Our credibility is our voting system, and I would say this, [confidence] in our public officials has been greatly eroded."
Similarly, Hawley argued Congress should "investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections."
We believe that is the very least that should be done, and that such a mission should receive unanimous support in the House and Senate.
Meanwhile, we hope Fleischmann will entertain the notion that Trump bears some responsibility for the insurrection that took place in Washington, D.C., last week during the electoral vote certification process.
He told a Cleveland radio station on Monday "I really don't" hold the president personally responsible. "I think people are responsible for their own actions."
Fleischmann is correct that people are responsible for their own actions — and many of the insurrectionists are finding that out as they are tracked down from social media photos and arrested — but Trump bears some of the blame because he repeatedly told his supporters that he won the election, that he won it in a landslide and that there was every chance the results would be overturned.
Many of those supporters came to Washington to revel in that eventuality and, perhaps realizing that it wasn't going to happen, stormed the Capitol. Ultimately, five people died. Without the president's encouragement, they wouldn't have been there.
Today, even Trump appears to have had second thoughts about the things he said.
Sources, according to Fox News, said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, talked with the president and that he'd admitted he bears some blame. McCarthy, according to the sources, told the House GOP Conference as much.
Fleischmann acknowledged that he'd called out the violence in the Capitol when it occurred, just as he called out the violence last summer when leftists rioted and burned U.S. cities. He also noted correctly that Trump committed to an orderly transfer of power last week, just as he had before the election once he was assured all the votes were counted.
But, even though the congressman is ensconced in a safe district, we'd like him to feel the betrayal many of the president's voters felt last week from the president's speech, from his tepid response to what happened and to the continued denial of the reality of the election.
Many of Trump's 74 million voters appreciate what he has done as chief executive and will concede that some election fraud did occur, but, absent verifiable proof to change the result, want to see a proper transfer of power. They'll live to vote another day.
We hope Fleischmann will find his way to that understanding.
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