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Plain Talk: What's wrong with Ron Johnson?

Plain Talk: What's wrong with Ron Johnson?

As Wisconsin's Johnson weighs future, Trump ties take a toll (copy)

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks during a confirmation hearing for United States Ambassador to the United Nations nominee Linda Thomas-Greenfield before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Washington. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP)

I'm starting to wonder if we should get some help for our U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

Something must be terribly wrong about this guy who purports to represent the good people of Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate. Either that or he's a bigger charlatan than I thought.

As head of the Homeland Security Committee when the GOP controlled the Senate, he promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 cure; along with a corrupt Ukrainian official, he spread disinformation on Joe Biden in an attempt to influence the presidential campaign; and then he famously attempted to upend the election by falsely claiming the vote was rigged.

Now this week he did himself even one better. He went on Fox News and claimed that it was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not his buddy Donald Trump, who caused the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Even the Fox News host seemed flabbergasted.

How did he know this?, he was asked. Sort of like what his predecessor from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy, was famous for, Johnson couldn't cite any evidence, saying only that he was "suspicious." But, he was sure that this week's impeachment trial in the Senate is actually a smokescreen to deflect blame from the San Francisco Democrat.

"Is this another diversionary operation? Is this meant to deflect away from potentially what the speaker knew and when she knew it?" Johnson said. "I don't know, but I'm suspicious."

Turns out that there have been other attempts to switch the blame from Trump, including by his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who suggested that the Capitol Police were terribly unprepared and inferring that they were under control of the House Speaker.

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But, in fact-checking Meadows' suggestion, it turns out that the speaker has no direct control over the Capitol Police. It is overseen by an apparatus that includes representation from the Architect of the Capitol, the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms, as well as committees from both Houses of Congress.

Besides, since scores of the insurrectionists were heard shouting for Pelosi's head and more than one declared they wanted to put a bullet between her eyes, it doesn't seem likely that she would have been keen inciting these bunch of nut cases to stage a coup.

As one of my readers, Steve Anderson from Eau Claire, commented when he emailed me the story of Johnson's Fox interview: "An ill man."

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

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