When a politician starts swerving like a car being driven by a drunk, it’s safe to say he’s in trouble. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama’s 5th Congressional district.
Brooks currently looks like that proverbial drunk driver as he changes his story about his role in the Jan. 6 rally that proceeded an attack on the U.S. Capitol. Last week, he was saying that he represented the “will of his constituents” when he riled up the rebels. This week, he claimed it was Trump’s fault he was at the rally.
Poor Mo Brooks. The excuses are piling up.
Let’s start with last week’s.
“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” Brooks shouted to the crowd on Jan. 6. I don’t know how many “patriots” were taking down names. But the video evidence shows many of them took the “kicking ass” part very seriously.
Actually, too seriously. Five people were killed that day, one of whom was a police officer. Two other officers there committed suicide later, likely a response to the trauma they endured.
Speaking of trauma, firefighter Taylor Blunt gave a first-hand account of the horror he saw in an after-action memo according to the Associated Press. Blunt, one of the first emergency responders on the scene that day, said that officers were “being pulled into the crowd and trampled, assaulted with scaffolding materials, and/or bear maced by protesters.”
Was that the ass-kicking Brooks had in mind? Law enforcement officers being trampled, physically assaulted and maced? Officers whose primary job was to protect Brooks, his colleagues and their staffers?
Brooks said he was speaking for 5th District voters when he called for asses to be kicked. For the record, he wasn’t speaking for me, and I’m in his district (though I’ve never voted for him).
Some might be surprised to know that Brooks doesn’t even speak for all Republicans in his district – let alone Democrats. At least 25 percent of Republicans voted for his opponents in the last two GOP primaries. Add Democrats to that and there are a whole lot of people in the 5th Congressional District for whom Brooks doesn’t speak.
Not enough for him to lose an election, but enough to know that Brooks was wrong about claiming to represent us on Jan. 6.
How about Excuse No. 2: Blame Trump. NBC reporter Scott MacFarlane tweeted out a section of a court filing by Brooks’ attorneys in response to the lawsuit filed against him by Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell.
From the filing: “On January 5, 2021, Brooks was in Brooks’ Congressional Office at the Rayburn House Office building when a White House employee contacted Brooks during regular office hours and asked Brooks to speak at the Ellipse Rally on January 6, 2021. … Brooks only gave an Ellipse Speech because the White House asked him to, in his capacity as a United States Congressman … But for the White House request, Brooks would not have appeared at the Ellipse Rally.”
But for the White House request, that phrasing sounds like another excuse. “Baby, I was only at the strip club because my boys asked me to join them. But for their request …”
Please. Brooks is a grown man. He was at the rally because he wanted to be there, not because he was invited.
And he wanted to be there because he expected to be lionized like a Founding Father in Trump’s autocratic America. Brooks probably thought his “kicking ass” speech would secure him the GOP nomination to replace Sen. Richard Shelby in the U.S. Senate. Instead, he is fighting to save his own ass.
Which explains why he’s trying out different excuses for his Jan. 6 speech. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not Brooks’ excuses will work in court or with GOP voters.
But I am convinced of this: Any Brooks victory will be an Alabama loss.