'Spasms of vindictiveness': Conservative knocks GOP for 'irresponsible and juvenile' behavior in Tennessee
Tennessee Speaker of the House of Representatives Cameron Sexton Photo: screen capture

A discussion about the "Tennessee Three," the lawmakers that Republicans are attempting to expel from the legislature because they attended an anti-gun protest, is what kicked off MSNBC Nicolle Wallace's show.

The host called it "the slide into autocracy" as she joined Matthew Dowd who worked with her under George W. Bush, and conservative Charlie Sykes.

The group of them was disgusted with the behavior of the Republican lawmakers, but they connected the dots between Tennessee to the recent election in Wisconsin and to Donald Trump's charges in Manhattan and the other ongoing investigations.

"This is the Republican Party. This is who they are," said Dowd.

"Well they ought to recognize how horrific it is," said Sykes. "And it is punitive, and it is performative. Usually when politicians engage in this kind of performative maneuver, it is in order to make themselves look good or look strong. This makes them look petty, petulant and vindictive. I'm trying to think of the politics of Tennessee, is this going to win Republicans any swing votes? Is this going to help their electoral prospects? Does this make people around the country go, 'yeah, I wish our legislature would behave in this particular way.' The thing about expelling these members, it takes the anti-democratic through line and makes it explicit. If republicans are saying you are accusing us of being anti-democratic, hold our beer. We are going to actually strip elected representatives of their positions because they engaged in a peaceful protest involving children who were murdered in our state. I'm trying to come up with a scenario in which the Republicans would make themselves look worse than what they are doing right now, and accomplishing absolutely nothing."

He went on to struggle to see the upside and question how Republicans in Tennessee could be so stupid.

Dowd explained that most of these Republicans only care about the five percent of people that vote in Republican primaries. Once they're through their primary, the voters get used to just voting Republican or voting against Democrats.

"We have a twofold solution to this," he continued. "One is to call out the problem. But two is to show the spotlight on how the health of democracy is being preserved in certain places and the will of the people like Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. like many other states in our country. ... But I think Republicans, deep down, they know if they undermine democracy, then they actually succeed in creating chaos and they can step in, and provide some simple crazy answer in the midst of chaos. And that's the case over and over and over again."

Wallace said she disagreed, not because she doesn't think they're capable, but she doesn't think that Republican officials are smart enough anymore to look at what they're doing and realize the optics aren't good.

"All the people that were going to stand up, by sitting down, and sticking a tube sock in their mouth when Donald Trump grabbed women in the you know what and they didn't walk away their support when he saw good people on both side of the KKK rally or Tuesday when he was indicted in a very substantive case for campaign finance violations as an underlying crime and business record falsification," said Wallace.

She noted that Republicans aren't standing up in defense of the law or that everyone should be treated the same under the law.

"The reason there is no one to stand up is because they all abdicated any moral authority," continued Wallace. "And I don't think they are smart enough anymore to see attacks against democracy as a cohesive national strategy. This is like a dog that pees on everything that smells like pee because that is their reflex. The reflex has become anti-democratic. The reflex has become anti-free speech unless there are Trump supporters stabbing cops with flag poles."

She explained that the end result is that the Republican Party appears to the world as the largest autocratic movement.

"They are now all part of something that in Tennessee is for expelling members for participating in a peaceful protest. They are, in Florida, stripping journalists of their rights and access to cover the powerful," Wallace cited. "They are from coast to coast, passing laws that treat women like second class citizens for the simple crime of being in possession of a uterus. What is the story democrats can tell about this version of the Republican Party?"

Sykes said that it certainly makes it a lot easier for Democrats to make the case.

"By the way, I don't think many people in that chamber could spell Machiavellian must less read him," Sykes snapped. "This is the id of the Republican Party. There is no grand scheme here. There may be reptilian instincts. Don't underestimate some grand blueprint. You are seeing spasms of vindictiveness and rage. The story the Democrats can tell is look at these guys. Look at how they behave. Look at how irresponsible and juvenile and how uninterested they are in addressing substantive issues."

Sykes argued that what Republicans don't fully understand is that they're handing the young Democrats a national and international platform.

Dowd closed by saying that it doesn't matter what part of the country someone lives in, whether a small town in Texas or an urban area, "they're trying to take away your voice."

See the videos of the discussion below or at the link here.

'Spasms of vindictiveness and rage': Conservative knocks GOP for irresponsible juvenile behavior youtu.be

Tennessee goes full autocratic youtu.be