Asked three times by Fox News host Chris Wallace whether the election was “stolen,” Scalise refused each time to offer the only correct answer: no. Instead, Scalise danced around a direct answer — claiming that states had not followed their own laws in conducting the pandemic-era election.
“What I said is there are states that didn’t follow their legislatively set rules,” Scalise said when Wallace pressed.
It’s a handy position for Scalise: promote Trump’s nonsense and simultaneously maintain plausible deniability. For American democracy, though, Scalise’s middle ground is no middle ground at all.
By refusing to say that Trump lost fair and square, Scalise lends just as much support to deadly, destructive lies about the election as the colleagues who tell them explicitly. It’s the complicity of Republican officeholders and Republican media, nearly as much as Trump’s relentless dishonesty, that has millions of Americans convinced that claims of an illegitimate election are anything more than a pathetic joke.
And by effectively arguing that the problem wasn’t even voter fraud but ballots that voters cast in good faith under the procedures that were put in place by state authorities during a pandemic, Scalise tells Americans that not even following the rules is good enough for Republican leaders if you don’t vote Republican. Does anyone believe that Scalise would be complaining about the legitimacy of state procedures 11 months after Election Day if Trump had, under those same procedures, earned more electoral votes than Joe Biden?
This is done. Or it should be.