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Shawn Vestal: With her vote today, McMorris Rodgers finalizes the sale of her soul

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is all smiles while meeting with media on election night, Nov. 3, 2020, at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is all smiles while meeting with media on election night, Nov. 3, 2020, at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane. (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

“Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial.”

– Othello

Was there a specific moment that clearly foretold that Cathy McMorris Rodgers would betray her oath of office, the Constitution, and the most basic principle of American democracy in favor of an attempt to lie, cheat and steal an election?

A single moment when we might have foreseen that McMorris Rodgers would burn her boats on the shores of a land ruled by a mad despot, making it impossible to ever credibly return to the ideological ground of democratic values?

Or was this always who she was? A despicable toady. An abject coward. A traitor to her own promises, and an enemy of the American voter.

Whenever it happened, it’s definitely happened now. The sale is complete. When McMorris Rodgers votes today, with scores of her seditious colleagues, to reject an American election that was clean and fair by every factual measure, she tenders what’s left of her good name forever.

McMorris Rodgers has always been a mediocre representative, unimpressive by every yardstick. As a thinker, she’s a vessel of received wisdom. As a lawmaker, her list of memorable achievements is brief. As a leader, she is an excellent follower.

She has campaigned as someone whose chief attribute is the fact that she’s nice – recall her civility lectures, this supporter of the least civil president in history. Recall that on one occasion, asked to specify her ideas for dealing with gun violence in American, she responded that she’d been having dinners with Democrats.

Her long record of electoral success seems due to one quality only: the letter R beside her name.

Still, as unimpressive as she has been, her descent into this radicalized cesspool was not a foregone conclusion. She has not, heretofore, been a full-blown Shea-world conspiracist. One might have clung to a slim reed of hope – as the insane alternative universe that surrounds the president grew crazier, more wildly dishonest and more hostile to constitutional values – that she might find the courage to do the right thing.

Or, short of that, one might have clung to the hope that she would choose to follow the few but growing number of her fellow Republicans, like Rep. Dan Newhouse, willing to tiptoe out onto a limb in support of truth and democracy.

Even after she joined the baseless and offensive attempt to get the Supreme Court to throw out the vote, one might have thought she would not go this far.

But no. She’s all the way in. Constitution be damned.

She described her reasons in an interview with The Spokesman-Review on Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, she sounded as if she had lifted every word straight from someone else’s press release.

She said she wants to “give voice to the millions of Americans that do not have trust and confidence in this election, and to ensure the integrity of this election.”

God help us all if this is how she truly thinks she will ensure the integrity of anything. The fact that millions of Americans have been conned by lies should be something a conservative of integrity views as a call on their honor – a call upon them to ensure integrity by telling the truth inside their own bubble. Instead, she has nothing to say but amen.

The threat of Donald Trump from the start was that he was an actual, no-kidding danger to American values. If the previous four years didn’t prove that was real, then the last few days left no doubt – punctuated by his attempt to make Georgia’s secretary of state an offer he couldn’t refuse.

The only hope was that our institutions and systems would protect the country.

This has been true in some ways, but dispiritingly naive in others. Almost all of those ways are related to the failures of people like McMorris Rodgers to put the country first and exercise their check on the executive.

By degrees, they degraded themselves and the nation, accepting ever-greater offenses, abandoning ever more principles, supporting ever more lies, fueling civil-war fantasies in the fever swamps now spilling into the streets, and growing ever more used to the water as it got hotter and hotter and hotter.

Until the day came when the president called upon them to vote against the voters.

To vote against the vote.

When McMorris Rodgers said yes to that, she bid farewell forever to the tiny, final remnants of her good name.

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