Republican Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina was one of the architects of the enormous tax breaks for the rich that the Republican Party passed during the Trump administration. While it was wildly unpopular and led almost entirely to further extremes in wealth inequality in our country, it may be considered the only piece of Republican legislation to actually be passed during all of the years the GOP enjoyed majority control under Trump. This, of course, is not good enough for the more fascist wing of the Republican Party, and after Donald Trump’s attempts to orchestrate a coup d’etat fell through, Rep. Rice found himself among the 10 Republican representatives who voted for his impeachment.
To be crystal-clear here: Rep. Rice is the only one of the 10 Republicans to vote for impeachment that also voted against certifying the results of 2020 election. He subsequently told reporters, months later, that while he still has reservations about the results of the presidential election, he regrets his anti-certification vote, and felt it was clear that “President Trump was responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol.” This means that in 2022, Rice is persona non grata among wannabe fascist henchmen like craven Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy and others.
Rice is facing a backlash and a Donald Trump rally-machine that has continued to call him a Benedict Arnold to the MAGA-Nazi movement. Trump has endorsed GOP primary candidates against Rice and has traded public jabs with him, with Trump calling Rice a “disaster” while Rice called Trump a “would-be tyrant.”
As a result of the orange-grey-haired elephant in the room, Rice has tried to remind his blood-red congressional district that he is the same misinformation-peddling anti-masker who has called COVID-19 the “Wuhan flu,” like every other racist shitheel in his Party. He has tried to remind everyone that he basically voted with Donald Trump all of the time and has done his part to vote with his fellow Republicans against popular legislation and emergency aid for front line workers. He even voted in support of Marjorie Taylor Greene to keep her committee assignments, in a showing of non-accountability for promoting blatantly white supremacist ideologies and conspiracy theories.
Depending on whose polling you go by, the primary race for Rice’s 7th Congressional District is going great for him … or his opponent. So Rice, like Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, has decided to lean into bashing Trump while attempting to remind the GOP’s base that Donald Trump is just the bluntest version of what Rice and the rest of the Republican Party have always been.
On Sunday, Rep. Rice did an interview with ABC News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl to help promote himself, as well as further explain why Donald Trump is sort of a terrible person. The interview was a pretty softball one (you can watch below) where Karl attempts to paint Rice as some kind of maverick. It’s a bit embarrassing, honestly. That being said, Rice does a solid job of pointing out that Donald Trump did to try and orchestrate the overthrow of the government, and that when the Capitol building was being invaded by his followers and conspirators, Trump didn’t do a single thing to protect the legislative branch of the U.S. government. In fact, he didn’t even do anything to protect his own vice president.
“When he watched the Capitol, the ‘People’s House,’ being sacked, when he watched the Capitol Police officers being beaten for three or four hours and lifted not one thing or to stop it — I was livid then and I’m livid today about it,” Rice recalled. “And it was very clear to me I took an oath to protect the Constitution.”
Rice also points out that while Donald Trump has publicly called him a “disaster” who lacks the respect of his fellow GOP operatives, he was a good little foot soldier to the Donald, until he wasn’t: “If I am a ‘disaster,’ and a ‘total fool’ and I voted with him 169 times out of 184, what does that make him? I was following his lead.”
Here is where we see the limitations of the modern Republican Party, and more specifically, the neocon wing of the Party that is hoping to retain control while waiting for Trump to pass. Rice told ABC News that he hopes Trump does not run for office again. But his hope has nothing to do with what’s good for the country. It’s not simply because Trump is, in Rice’s words “ a narcissist, and he’s driven by attention, and he’s driven by revenge.” It isn’t because Trump should be in jail or on trial for treason, but because “We’ll [the GOP] get painted more in the corner of extremism, they’ll try to label us as extremist. And he’ll feed that.”
Asked about whether or not he would support a Kevin McCarthy speakership if the GOP took majority control of the House in November, Rice was equally mushy-mouthed, saying, “We’ll see what happens.”
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