House votes to censure Paul Gosar and remove him from committees, 223-207, with two Republicans voting yes

House votes to censure Paul Gosar and remove him from committees, 223-207, with two Republicans voting yes

You can guess who the two were.

Kevin McCarthy’s team whipped against the vote and in the end were almost totally successful. All they lost were the two de facto conservative independents, Cheney and Kinzinger, and David Joyce, who said later that he didn’t want to pre-judge Gosar since the House Ethics Committee (which he serves on) has yet to address the matter.

Dems won’t say so but I think they treated this as a lifetime achievement award for Gosar. The anime cartoon he posted on Twitter showing a character with his face superimposed on it slaying a character with AOC’s face doesn’t crack the top 10 worst offenses by a guy who helped organize the January 6 “stop the steal” rally and who’s famously cozy with alt-righters. In fact, if he had targeted someone other than AOC in the clip, I wonder if Democrats would have pursued censure at all instead of just groaning and filing it away as an edgelord crank doing what edgelord cranks do.

Ocasio-Cortez didn’t want to let it go, though, as I noted yesterday. Maybe that’s because she relished an opportunity to show off her victimhood or maybe it’s because she really has had it with righty populists trying to earn cred with their fans by taking shots at her. Either way, one gets the sense that she wasn’t prepared to drop it and therefore Pelosi and her leadership team couldn’t drop it either. If they declined to punish Gosar, progressives in the House would have started whispering to reporters that top Democrats don’t take the abuse heaped on women of color in their caucus seriously.

Faced with having to choose between nuking Gosar or being criticized herself as some sort of racist/sexist, Pelosi made the easy choice.

In her zeal to show solidarity with Ocasio-Cortez, she and other members of the caucus went so far as to speculate that Gosar may have committed a crime, an idea arguably dumber than the video itself:

AOC got to speak at length this afternoon and did make one fair point about Gosar and the MAGA wing of the GOP caucus: They’re not serious about their jobs. They don’t care what they say or what effect it has on others because ultimately they’re just performers for the people who watch them on Fox, not legislators. After Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of her committee assignments, she actually celebrated the fact that she’d now have more time to sh*tpost about Democrats. She, Gosar, and their caucus clique are fundamentally trolls whose highest priority is owning the libs, so naturally Gosar wouldn’t think twice about a little anime-style trolling showing him killing an AOC character. It’s barely an exaggeration to say that sh*tposting is his job.

Gosar ultimately spoke and, true to form in the Trump era, declined to apologize. But he did say that he meant no harm and wasn’t trying to encourage violence against Ocasio-Cortez, which may or may not be true. It’s hard to know how seriously to take insurrection apologists when they profess peaceful intentions.

GOP Rep. Peter Meijer was an interesting no vote on the censure resolution. He’s showed unusual courage during his brief time in Congress, voting to impeach Trump in January and then to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress a few weeks ago for not complying with the January 6 committee’s subpoena. Trump recently rewarded him by endorsing his primary challenger next year, a predictable result of Meijer’s votes. Meijer votes his conscience regardless of the electoral consequences. And his conscience told him today that it wouldn’t be fair to lower the boom on Gosar for what was, ultimately, a tasteless joke.

As for McCarthy, I assume he considers this the best possible outcome in a difficult situation. He stood with Gosar, which will not only earn him some populist cred but should keep MAGA types like Greene off his back about punishing the 13 Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill. He’s giving a little something to both sides in hopes of protecting his own leadership position. McCarthy’s calculation is that the likely House Republican majority in 2023 will contain enough MAGA and non-MAGA types that the caucus will be ungovernable if it’s led by someone from either wing, with the other wing feeling unrepresented as a result. The GOP will need someone who’s grudgingly acceptable to both, and that’s what McCarthy aims to be — grudgingly acceptable. “He is straddling the fence,” one House Republican told Politico. “When you straddle the fence, you better hope it’s not a barbed wire fence.”

Here’s Pelosi reading the censure resolution to Gosar after it passed. The Freedom Caucus stood with him in the well of the House in order to share a populist photo op show solidarity with a member’s inalienable right to be a stupid troll on Twitter. Exit quotation from McCarthy: “A new standard will continue to be applied in the future.”

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