Mark Amodei really wants you to know he’s not first at anything

well now maybe but then again
Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei at the Capitol last year. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Because who knows when the opportunity may next present itself, if ever, let’s say some nice things about Mark Amodei.

Amodei is the Republican (it’s always a Republican) member of the U.S. House from Nevada’s ruby red second congressional district — you know, yonder rural one, wherein everyone in all the little towns shows up to vote to make sure the fancy hipsters and cosmopolites in Washoe County who have voted Democratic in the last two elections still get stuck with some Republican or other whether they like it or not so neener neener.

Amodei, as you know, has been in the “stand by for news!” lately because he did a conference call with Nevada reporters last week about impeachment, in which he described himself as a “fan of oversight” so “let’s put it through the process and see what happens.”

In other words, it sounds like Amodei thinks the impeachment inquiry is a reasonable thing to do, given the circumstances. Right?

WRONG! DO NOT SAY THAT! MARK AMODEI HAS VERY STRONG FEELINGS ABOUT YOU SAYING THAT AND THOSE FEELINGS ARE “UGH DO NOT WANT.”

Amodei, you see, found himself lit up in a flicker of fame when the icky liberal New York Times (which is icky, and liberal, duh) did not listen to Amodei’s conference call with reporters, but read what other people wrote about it, and then promptly whipped up a story headlined “Mark Amodei Is First House Republican to Support Trump Impeachment Inquiry.”

AM NOT, Amodei replied almost instantly upon discovering, improbable though it may seem, his name was in a New York Times headline over a story that was about, well, him. And that’s what Amodei has been saying ever since – AM NOT.

Well, is he? Taking crazy pills?

Exactly what is Amodei doing?

Or as a Fox News host put it in an interview with Amodei Monday, “What are you doing?” 

Amodei was pleased to answer promptly: “Fair question, Neil. What am I doing?”

To recap: Amodei supports the process, but not an impeachment inquiry, even though the process is an impeachment inquiry. Everybody got that all cleared up? Good.

Amodei is not doing his special Amodei dance for the big city media just to provide mild momentary entertainment to casual observers (though it’s pretty good for that). Maybe he didn’t think through his phrasing. Or maybe he’s genuinely miffed that someone somewhere might suggest that he does not in fact love Donald Trump madly and deeply, as per official directives issued to the Republican Party by that party’s sole proprietor, Donald Trump.

It’s even possible, s’pose, that Amodei is a-scared because wet-behind-the-ears Adam Laxalt might be circling like a buzzard, waiting for Amodei to commit a career-killing betrayal of Dear Leader. Laxalt wants nothing more than to return to the Greater Washington D.C. Metropolitan Statistical Area where he grew up and that will always be his home. How agonizing it must be for Young Master Adam, not renowned for patience, to watch while Amodei occupies the most obvious office Laxalt could be running for this cycle.

But this isn’t about Liddle, er, Liddle’ Adam.

Nor is this about Amodie struggling to explain why he supports the process, just so long as everyone understands he’s against it.

What this is about, remember, is saying something nice about Mark Amodei. And here it is: Thus far, anyway, he hasn’t emulated Laxalt, the Nevada Republican Party, the most sycophantic of his GOP House colleagues, or Trump, and dismissed the impeachment inquiry as an outrageous “witch hunt” or “presidential harassment” or a “coup.”

Yes, Amodei is peddling the notion that Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry because she is captive to her party’s base (sigh, if only ‘twere true).

But he has avoided more ludicrous — and more harmful — assertions. For instance, he hasn’t said the notes from the Trump-Zelensky phone call reflect an “entirely proper” conversation, as per White House talking points.

Instead, in his call with reporters last week, Amodei said this: “If we’re withholding aid, what’s the reason for that? Because if it’s established that we’re not sending those folks a penny until they give us a smoking gun on family Biden, obviously that would not be good.”

Asked last week about Trump’s narrative that the whistleblower was a “partisan operative,” Amodei was dismissive. “I don’t care whether it’s a partisan spy.”

“No part of my process will be ‘well it was political’ so we have to take that into account,” Amodei said. “Did you break the law? That’s it. Not to oversimplify it but if you broke the law then there are consequences for it.”

And — again, thus far — Amodei has not come anywhere near embracing the Big Lie, deliberately contrived by Trump and Rudy Giuliani, that Joe Biden ousted a courageous prosecutor to protect his son. 

Sure, Biden’s kid seems like a piece of work who cashed in for no reason other than his last name, like a common, oh, Trump. Or Laxalt. In fact Hunter Biden seems like a Vegas kind of guy! Whatever.

But if you don’t already know (likely a remote possibility; people who get this far into one of my columns tend to be pretty high-information voters), the U.S. and the IMF and the EU and apparently all of civilization wanted Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin removed from office not because he was courageous and honorable, but because he was corrupt and crooked. Shokin was the guy Biden was trying to get Ukraine to dump. Shokin wasn’t investigating Biden’s kid. Shokin wasn’t investigating anybody. That was the problem.

Trump and Giuliani are spreading a lie that is exactly the opposite of the truth.

And Amodei, to his credit (again, as of this writing), hasn’t touched it.

Does that portend a willingness of more Republicans in Congress — especially in the Senate, which will try any impeachment charges against Trump brought by the House — to approach Trump’s behavior rationally and reasonably, as Amodei suggests he will do?

There is no reason to believe that is the case. Perhaps more likely, by the time you read this Amodei, too, will be embracing Trump’s conspiracy of lies.

But as of (checks clock) 5:56 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Wednesday Oct. 2, 2019 (unless I’ve missed it), Amodei has steered clear of the lies. And every and any Republican (there are some others) who do that provide a glimmer of hope, however faint, that Republicans will judge Trump on the basis of facts and the nation’s best interest, instead of doing what they have been doing and cowering before the the most vile farce of a presidency in U.S. history.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Sitting and waiting for everyone else is Mark Amodei’s superpower. He got in trouble because the Nevada Independent thought he was saying something, when he was trying so hard not to say anything

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