Condemnation of Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) for failing to debunk false conspiracy theories and President Trump's lies in the weeks leading up to Wednesday's insurrectionist attack on the Capitol building are coming from both the left and right of the political spectrum.
In a column titled "James Lankford's Abdication of Responsibility," Tulsa native Mark Antonio Wright, executive editor of the conservative National Review, writes Lankford "aided and abetted" the pro-Trump mob, even if he withdrew his objection to the rightful election results following bloodshed.
"Here’s the truth: No fact pattern concerning election fraud, the election’s result, or his constituents’ concerns had changed in the intervening hours — only Lankford’s calculations regarding whether such a challenge benefited him politically," Wright writes. "The junior senator from Oklahoma couldn’t have looked more ridiculous."
Reached by phone Friday, Wright said he has generally supported Lankford during the junior senator's time in office so far.
"He has a reputation for being a very collegial ... bipartisan, sober-minded guy," Wright said. "And I just think what he did on Wednesday night was the opposite of the way he's conducted himself in general over the last five years."
"The only reason he did that was short-sighted political expediency, which is a disappointment both as an Oklahoman and as a conservative," Wright said.
Wright said he thinks excuses for the conduct from Lankford and Rep. Stephanie Bice, that they were never really planning to block President-elect Joe Biden from taking office, are not impressive.
"The move that they did was, whether they intended it or not, an assault on that social compact, an assault that trust that we have to have in order for democracy to work," Wright said. "So I don't think I really buy their excuse that they weren't trying to overturn an election."
"I don't think that the excuse of, 'Well, we're just asking questions' really flies here under the circumstances, and in the context of two months of the President of the United States continually alleging what would be the greatest crime in American history," Wright said.
Wright -- who says he can't rule out the possibility that he'll end up voting for Lankford's reelection in 2022 -- ends his column with an instruction to readers in Oklahoma:
"James Lankford had the right to object last night to the certification of the Electoral College vote. But he had a duty not to. He had a duty to tell the truth, the whole truth, to Oklahomans, not pander to them. He had a duty to lead. James Lankford shirked that duty. He treated his fellow Oklahomans with contempt.
"Oklahomans shouldn’t forget it."