Days after making light of the attack on Paul Pelosi, Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin admitted he was wrong.
“At the end of the day, I really wanted to express the fact that what happened to Speaker Pelosi’s husband was atrocious,” Youngkin told Punchbowl News. “And I didn’t do a great job.”
No, he didn’t.
In the wake of the news that Pelosi, the husband House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had been attacked with a hammer in his own home by an intruder who shouted “Where’s Nancy?,” Youngkin told a crowd at a campaign event that “Speaker Pelosi’s husband had a break-in last night in their house, and he was assaulted. There’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re gonna send her back to be with him in California. That’s what we’re going to go do.”
So, you see the problem. After the controversy that followed, Youngkin had tried his best to memory hole that comment, but it just didn’t go away.
That he said sorry – albeit a little late – is something Youngkin should still be applauded for. And it stands in stark contrast to how many other members of his party are choosing to behave.
Take Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for governor in Arizona.
On Monday, Lake was asked a question about school safety while on the campaign trail. “It is not impossible to protect our kids at school.,” she responded. “They act like it is. Nancy Pelosi, well, she’s got protection when she’s in DC – apparently her house doesn’t have a lot of protection.”
The crowd – as well as the moderator – burst out in laughter.
On Tuesday, Lake insisted she had done nothing wrong. “I never made light [of] the attack,” Lake said. “I was talking about our children and why they don’t have better security at school. And I said that our politicians have security and that our athletes have security and we need to have security for our children. Go back and look at the tape and don’t do any creative editing like the fake media tends to do and you’ll see what I was saying. Despicable.”
The tape, of course, shows Lake making light of the situation. And the crowd (and the moderator) laughing. Lake’s response to that laughter? “Hey, I don’t control people, buddy. I don’t control people. I can be responsible for myself, I can’t be responsible for others.”
Of course, had she not been joking, Lake could have, in the moment, told the crowd that. Something along the lines of, “This isn’t a laughing matter.” But she did not.
It is Lake rather than Youngkin who has been the model for Republican behavior since the Pelosi attack.
Donald Trump, as he so often does, latched on to a conspiracy theory suggesting, wrongly, that the glass in Pelosi’s house was broken from the inside.
“It’s weird things going on in that household in the last couple of weeks,” the former president said.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., has repeatedly made light of the attack on social media, re-posting an image of a pair of underwear and a hammer with the words, “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready.”
Other baseless conspiracy theories have also been pushed by prominent right-wing figures online.
It’s important – amid all of this – to remember what we are talking about here: An 82-year-old man was attacked in his house with a hammer. The man alleged to have attacked Paul Pelosi, David DePape, said he planned to break the speaker’s kneecaps. DePape has been charged with attempted murder and attempted kidnapping, among other charges.
The notion that this is a laughing matter – or grist for the conspiracy theory mill – is appalling. And yet, here we are.