The Arkansas man photographed with his feet up on a desk in Nancy Pelosi's office during the Jan. 6 riot has been found guilty of all eight counts filed against him. Richard "Bigo" Barnett of Gravette faces a max penalty of 47 years, according to the paper. The man is 62 years old.
Doubtless there will be a lot of what the Germans call schadenfreude in this case. And doubtless there will be Mr. Barnett's defenders, and not just his lawyers, heard from. We think our Philip Martin said it best (as he usually does) in a column earlier this month:
You're not the victim here, Bigo. You did horrible things.
But on a scale of one to 100, with one being sneaking an extra spoonful of ice cream before stashing the container back in the freezer and 100 being Thanos snapping his fingers while wearing the Infinity Gauntlet, resulting in the extermination of half of all life in the universe, I'd say your horrible was relatively mild. Nothing remarkable, but maybe a 25 or 26.
If I were you, I'd throw myself on the mercy of the court.
And if I were the court, I'd have some.
Mr. Barnett probably doesn't deserve 47 years. Not when so many others have received sentences with no real hard time. This guy was one of the faces of the riot/hissy fit, and made himself so. Not too smart. But being not too smart doesn't deserve 47 years.
This reminds us of the story Abraham Lincoln once told to his Cabinet. As the group sat down to discuss the developments that day in The War, one of the president's top advisers gave the group the unwelcome news: A group of Americans considered loyal to the Union, and essential to the war effort, had proven otherwise.
In fact, the outfit, once reliable, was now known to be filled with those who had their loyalties elsewhere, farther south. The room went quiet. The news wasn't just bad, but completely unexpected.
At which point President Lincoln told a story. It went like this:
A farmer of some reputation and property walked outside his home one day to do a little work in his garden. At which point he saw a squirrel dart into a big oak tree next to his home.
This oak was the sentinel of the lot, keeping watch over everything. Was there something wrong with the tree, and could part of it be hollow enough to house a squirrel's nest?
The farmer called upon a friend who knew about these things, and after examining the tree, his friend told him the thing was completely hollow. From top to bottom. And the next big wind might push it over onto his lovely home.
The farmer sighed, and said: "I wish I'd never seen that squirrel."