Here it is, Thanksgiving already. The relatives have arrived, the pies are cooling, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is sharpening up his knives for Big Bird.
It’s a day to give thanks, so I’ll offer gratitude to a few GOP politicians for their commitment to common sense and decency. Unlike many latter-day Republicans, they showed character in holding members of their own party to account for the nonchalant embrace of violence.
Let’s start in the Idaho House of Representatives, which recently censured Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, and booted her off the Commerce and Human Resources Committee; at 49-19, the vote wasn’t even close. The issue was Giddings’ reaction to a tawdry incident involving one of her Republican colleagues, freshman Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of Lewiston.
Long story short, von Ehlinger went out to dinner with a 19-year-old legislative intern, then took her back to his place for dessert. He says the ensuing sexual encounter was consensual; she says it was rape.
He said, she said. Details are murky and, other than the principals involved, nobody really knows what occurred in von Ehlinger’s apartment that night.
One thing that’s sparkling clear, however, is Giddings’ shameful defense of the Lewiston lothario. In an electronic newsletter to constituents, Giddings linked to a story from a far-right website that provided the intern’s name and photograph.
It’s easy to understand why politicians instinctively defend other members of their party, but GOP lawmakers in Idaho needn’t stoop that low. Given its dominance, Republican hegemony wouldn’t be threatened even if von Ehlinger were the love child of Nancy Pelosi and Dracula.
At this point, von Ehlinger is yesterday’s man. He resigned his seat in disgrace and skedaddled to Central America, later returning to Georgia, where he was arrested and extradited to Idaho. His rape trial is scheduled for April 26, 2022.
The von Ehlinger imbroglio could have ended there but, to its credit, the Idaho House refused to ignore a member’s reprehensible actions. Giddings publicly identified a young woman so her constituents could reach out and, er, “educate” her on the perils of pressing forward with rape accusations. You know, “It’d be a real shame if something happened to you.”
When her own actions were called into question, Giddings was hostile and combative — like a lot of Republicans these days. Instead of owning up to a lapse in judgment, then accepting a minor rebuke, she locked the hubs, dropped into low range, and tried to bulldoze her way out. Outing the intern was a matter of due process, Giddings insisted.
“Due process is one of the foundations of biblical truth,” she told the Idaho House. “It’s one of the fundamental principles that our nation was founded upon.” Though she’s a Republican, a clear majority of Giddings’ GOP colleagues recognized her argument for what it was: hogwash.
Also last week, a somewhat similar scenario played out on the national stage, albeit with far less Republican participation.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz, was censured by the U.S. House of Representatives and stripped of his seat on the Oversight and Natural Resources Committee. Rather than doxxing an alleged rape victim, Gosar modified an internet cartoon to depict him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
It was childish and silly, and Gosar argued the video was not threatening. Like Giddings, he struck a defiant tone — even comparing himself to Alexander Hamilton — and insisted the cartoon was just a joke. Ha, ha, ha.
Maybe it was a joke, but there’s no shortage of dim-witted lemmings willing to heed dog whistles from their political chieftains. Just ask the hundreds of capital rioters who followed then-President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 plea to “Fight like hell!”
They fought all right, and more than 140 cops were injured in the ensuing fray.
In Gosar’s case, all but two of his GOP colleagues voted to protect him, which effectively validates his casual attitude toward violence against political opponents.
For those who scoff at the threat posed by “harmless internet cartoons,” just ask yourself: What if a stranger posted one of your children being stabbed to death? Would you really be OK with that floating around on the internet?
Actions, especially the ugly ones, have consequences.
Brock grew up elsewhere, but he has lived on the Palouse for 20 years. He has been a Daily News columnist since 2002.