On Thursday, Republicans in the Tennessee legislature voted to remove two of the three insurrectionists who used a mob to aid their attempt to shut down the day’s proceedings. Justin Johnson and Justin Pearson were both expelled from the body while Glorida Johnson survived.
Immediately, Johnson illustrated why you never show Democrats mercy in a political situation like this. She ran to the press and asserted that the reason she was spared is that she is white and the two men who were expelled are black. It was the racialized talking point the left wanted, and a handful of Republicans were just dumb enough to hand it over willingly when all they had to do was drop the hammer on all of the so-called “Tennessee Three.”
One of those Republicans was a state representative named Jody Barrett, and he has released a statement “explaining” why he flipped his vote at the last minute.
Reading through the entire statement, it’s incredibly odd for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it seems to be incomplete. It’s almost as if part of the statement is missing. It just ends suddenly, failing to address several key issues that might better explain Barrett’s decision to flip his vote.
For example, if there were factual inconsistencies in the expulsion resolution against Johnson, what were they? Wouldn’t that be important for Barrett to point out if he’s going to use that as an excuse for not voting to expel Johnson? Instead, he just makes that assertion and moves right along.
Yet, in the preceding paragraph, he points out that Johnson participated in the insurrection, including leading chants with those who stormed the chamber (they were in the balconies at that point). He notes that she refused to leave the floor as ordered by the Sergeant at Arms. The only thing she apparently didn’t do was speak on the bullhorn. While that’s a distinction, I suppose, does it really change what she did or the severity of it? The answer is obviously not.
What really gets me about the statement, though, is that Barrett actually thinks being scared of Johnson’s lawyers is a valid excuse for flipping his vote. In the end, that’s really what he’s saying when he claims that they “caused concern in his mind.” Concern about what, exactly? She fomented an insurrection, broke the body’s rules, and refused to yield to the Sergeant at Arms. Again, Barrett never explains in his statement exactly what he was concerned about.
Besides, let’s say he’s right and there would have been some kind of legal fight if Johnson had been expelled due to the wording of the resolution. So what? How is it better to preemptively surrender in this situation? Especially when Barrett states that Johnson broke the rules in a way that demanded expulsion.
Never mind that it was politically moronic to save Johnson when it was obvious she and other Democrats would then claim racism was involved in the outcome. Barrett’s proclamation of that being “preposterous and baseless” will fall on deaf ears. No one cares about his indignation because it’s not 2005 anymore. This is a man who does not know what time it is, and I’d suspect he’s going to pay dearly during the next election.