GAGOP Political Theater Closes 2020 Chapter; Launches 2022 Season

This week’s Courier Herald column:

It’s time to close the books on the November election.  After all, it’s spring of 2021.  What happened in 2020 is done.  And yet, Georgia Republicans have some unfinished business which must be addressed.

Former President Trump’s refusal to accept that he lost his bid for re-election and the aftermath that has followed has ended the Georgia Republican Party as we know it – or, at least, once knew it.  For many that now identify with the brand this will be viewed as good news.  They believe this means they have drained the swamp.  Whatever.

For others, we have the words this week filed in response to a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems regarding the words and assurances of attorney Sidney Powell.  Powell was one of the main figures in the post-election Kabuki theater production titled “Release the Kraken”. 

For most of us, it didn’t take long to understand that the Trump team was desperate to buy time in search of voting irregularities on which a legal challenge to the election could be based.  The Kraken production by Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Lin Wood had a hastily written script which required viewers to achieve the highest levels of reality suspension in order to fully appreciate the show.

Now, Powell makes it clear that it was all Jon Lovitz level Master Thespian acting.  She told the court that “reasonable people would not accept (her) statements as fact…”

That’s gonna leave a mark. 

More specifically, it’s a permanent stain. It has soiled the banner and brand of the GOP along with many who were willing to be extras in this production.

The problem for the Georgia GOP is, too many did believe this.  They still demand action based on the claims made in court, and more importantly, directly to the people in press conferences.

I’m sure Powell will be blamed for leading the leaders astray.  Let’s put this into perspective.

Two weeks after the election, the Trump campaign issued a statement that Powell was acting in her private capacity and not as a member of their legal team.  That should have been a clear signal that Powell’s statements and claims were indefensible, given Trump’s own proclivity to…exaggerate the truth.

How unusual was this statement for Trump’s campaign?  They wanted more distance from Sidney Powell than they wanted from either the Proud Boys and/or those that stormed the Capitol days after the election.

The legacy of Powell’s words live on.  Charges made by her and others suppressed GOP voter turnout in January’s runoff election, most notably in the congressional district represented by fellow QAnon sympathizer Marjorie Greene.

Blame for losing two Georgia U.S. Senate seats and control of the entire chamber rests at Powell’s feet, and at those who gave her aid and comfort.  Apparently, that was just the beginning.

As Republicans have begun the biennial process of selecting party leaders, campaigns for 2022 elections are beginning to take shape.  Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has already drawn two challengers:  Former Alpharetta Mayor and 2018 runoff candidate for Secretary of State David Belle Isle; and Georgia 10th District Congressman Jody Hice.

Former President Trump, anxious to release some Kraken of his own, quickly endorsed Hice.  There’s word of a still-developing slate of Trump aligned candidates to challenge sitting Republican statewide elected officials from Governor on down the ticket.

The cherry on this sundae is that former State Representative Vernon Jones – who jumped on the Trump train en route to losing a Democratic primary for his former seat – is now offering his sizable personal baggage for a ride in the GOP primary for Governor.  Even for those of us who love political theater, it’s clear the writers are stretching for new plot devices this season.

Reasonable people missed the opportunity to see Sidney Powell’s claims for what they were.  There’s still time to recognize this latest round of theatrics for what they are:  The theater of the absurd.

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