Restraint doesn't come easy for Democratic leaders. When the chance came to rub the January 6th riot in Republicans' faces, they couldn't help themselves. They went too far. Despite a year of plotting and scheming, the desperate Left overplayed its hand on the Capitol mob -- turning a moment that could have been to their political advantage into yet another reason the American people see the Democrats as unfit to lead.
There were prayer vigils, hourly speeches, and a cable news network devoted to replaying the worst January 6th moments on a 24-hour loop. And still, their messaging failed. By the time Vice President Kamala Harris stood up and absurdly put January 6th in the ranks of 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, the Left had lost its audience entirely. "Certain dates echo throughout history," Harris said, "including dates that instantly remind all who have lived through them where they were, and what they were doing when our democracy came under assault -- dates that occupy not only a place on our calendars, but a place in our collective memory: December 7, 1941, September 11, 2001, and January 6, 2021."
It was a mistake, the New York Post's Michael Goodwin quipped, that "should live in political infamy." And to viewers, it was further proof (not that they needed it) that this White House has become completely unglued. The Left's hyperbole had been over-the-top all day, to be sure, but equating the deaths of more than 5,300 people to one tragic loss at last year's riot is, as one conservative called it, "a deeply delusional comparison." The blowback was so severe that Press Secretary Jen Psaki was sent in to clean up the mess, arguing (somewhat ridiculously) that the critics of Harris's remarks need to stop talking and start getting involved in "solving the threats of democracy..."
In so many ways, Goodwin warned, what Democrats have done by likening their opponents to Osama bin Laden or other enemies of the state, is "a far greater danger to democracy than anything that happened on that fateful day." And according to pollsters, most Americans didn't see the storming of the Capitol as an insurrection anyway. In a survey that CBS went to great lengths to bury, 76 percent of the country believes that January 6th was not an effort to overthrow the government -- but instead a "protest that went 'too far.'"
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who I was with when the events of last January were unfolding, agreed that it was not "America's finest moment." But that doesn't excuse the dangerous distortions the Left is using to hang on to its political power. "[T]o hear some in Washington talk today about how this puts our democracy at risk, misunderstands our nation, its strength, the courage, and patriots that I see out there every day America has survived much, much more difficult challenges than the horrible rioting that took place on January 6th."
Ironically (or more likely providentially), the secretary and I were praying together on that day -- in part, because we felt like the nation has a lot of work to do. One year later, those divisions and challenges have only gotten worse, thanks, in large part, to the vindictive, demagogical leadership we have today. "It seemed pretty apparent to me," Pompeo said, "that [Democrats] have chosen to try to take [January 6], nickname it an insurrection, and create a storyline that will help them be successful in elections in November... As a practical matter, I don't think that's going to work. I think the American people can see through that. I think people have made their decisions about how they're going to think about that day -- and [trying to exploit it] is not the right thing for leaders to do. We shouldn't politicize riots. We should stop them."
Speaking of politicization, Pompeo continues to rail against the idea of the U.S. sending athletes to the Beijing Olympics, accusing the administration of helping to "whitewash the image of China." Honestly, he argued, "the world's leaders have let these athletes down. They trained for decades for this moment," Pompeo said ruefully, and the Games are being organized by "the Chinese machine, which is conducting genocide against Uyghur Muslims in the West at a scale that we haven't seen since the 1930s. It's putting media people in jail in Hong Kong. And it foisted a virus upon the world that's killed millions. And now, it's going to be hosted by a leader, Xi Jinping, who will stand on this prominent stage and use his propaganda tools to continue to threaten the people."
His passion for the innocent people of China -- and the rest of the world's persecuted -- was one of the hallmarks of Pompeo's leadership. In fact, one of the last things he did was to formally label the systematic torture and oppression of the Uyghurs "genocide." Now, more than a year later, that effort is starting to bear fruit, as big companies like Walmart and Sam's Club try to disentangle their goods and supply lines from anything tainted by slave labor.
"I want to applaud every member of Congress who voted for the Uyghur [Forced] Labor Protection Act," Pompeo interjected. "It [passed with] bipartisan big numbers. It's glorious. It's America recognizing that these things matter -- that human rights matter, that we're not going to let the Chinese Communist Party coerce us into allowing this activity to take place in a way that that is a moral stain on the United States of America. So good on them for getting that done now. I hope it will be enforced incredibly rigorously, and I hope business leaders who are making an awful lot of money in China will come to see that there's an enormous risk from doing business there."
These are the things our country can accomplish when we stand together -- when we resist the urge to treat our fellow Americans as enemies and rally around the common values people care about. Right now, the leaders of the Democratic Party don't seem interested in fighting for anything but power. That's a shame, because not only are they going to lose that, they're going to miss the opportunity to be a part of something greater: America's comeback.