The storming of the United States Capitol marks a new day of infamy in American history. It was a horrifying spectacle that makes us look like an ungovernable third world country to our friends and adversaries alike.
The shocking scenes in and outside the Capitol complex were not displays of too-zealous patriotism. They were unpatriotic and unAmerican.
No matter how upset the protestors were over the election, there can be no excuse for violence and forcible trespassing into government offices, including the House and Senate chambers. What started as a legitimate expression of widespread discontent devolved into a riotous mob that destroyed any credible grievance it had.
First among the long list of casualties is Trump's legacy. His accomplishments, the good he did and the people whose hopes and opportunities he lifted are now overshadowed by recklessness.
He gave the hanging party the rope to use against him and spread glee among the Never Trumpers. This time, there is no defense of him. He owns this.
The president gave two speeches Wednesday. The first was too hot, the second too tepid.
His long talk in the morning to the mammoth crowd of protestors, who were peaceful at that point, was bitter and angry.
Repeating his claims of election fraud and denouncing not only Democrats but members of his own party who did not support his bid to overturn the results, the president said he "would never concede," adding, "You don't concede when there is theft involved."
He said that "if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election." Later, pointing to the Capitol, where the electoral college certification would take place, he declared that "history is going to be made there." He was right, but for the wrong reason.
Trump clearly hoped vice-president Pence would set aside the count of the battleground states where objections would be filed, thus somehow handing Trump victory. But Pence had never agreed he had the power to do that, and later issued a statement saying the constitution did not provide him the authority to overrule results certified by the states.
Meanwhile, many of the marchers seem to have assumed they would be witnessing a miraculous Trump victory when they got to the Capitol. Violence was obviously part of the plan among some, but even those who came to celebrate peacefully should have followed police orders to disband and leave the sprawling complex. Instead, thousands entered the buildings through broken windows and doors.
Nearly two hours after events had spun way out of control, the president gave his second speech close to 4:30 pm, but it was too little and too late. The man who had many times forcefully and rightly denounced Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters used kid gloves to deal with the rioters on his side.
"I know your pain," he began in brief remarks taped in the Rose Garden. He again insisted "we had an election that was stolen from us" but said "we can't play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. We love you, you are very special . . . but go home and go in peace."
A few minutes earlier, Biden had spoken and hit the right notes, calling the situation a "G od-awful display." In tones more sad than angry, he bemoaned that "our democracy is under unprecedented assault" and that the nation "has come to such a dark moment."
On this day of infamy, he was more presidential than the president.