Second Hearing, No Letdown
I caught most of the second hearing of the Jan. 6 committee this morning. And it definitely was morning, roughly 7:00 to 9:30, here on the west coast.
I wondered if there would be a sense of letdown after the dramatic opening hearing in prime-time last Thursday. I didn’t think there was. If anything it seemed to heighten the intensity as Attorney General William Barr was amply and extensively clear that President Trump was clearly playing with less than a full deck.
We have wondered for a long time when Trump would finally suffer some repercussions for his behavior. Of course, arguably his 2020 loss was a big repercussion, although he seems to have managed to miss that memo. So, what would it take, we kept wondering?
Of course, his minions and base are unlikely even now to relinquish their sunk costs on this project, whether emotional or economic. But it does seem to me that the Committee is building an extremely clear case, not only that Trump organized an attempt to prevent the lawful transfer of power (hearing #1), but that he knowingly perpetrated a massive fraud on the country (and his followers who parted with $250 million for his Stop the Steal fund) with his claims of election fraud (hearing # 2). It was all, in what seems to be Bill Barr’s favorite, and wholly appropriate, word, “bullshit.” This must have broken some law. I mean if the Better Business Bureau goes after someone who sells stuff that actually doesn’t exist, shouldn’t the U.S. government do at least that much?
A couple thoughts. One is on the business of norms. Trump flaunted norm after norm of civilized behavior and human decency. (Note the testimony from the Philadelphia elections official, Al Schmidt, today. When Trump called him out by name in a tweet, the harassment, threats and danger went from bad to unspeakable for this man and his family. Who does such a thing?) Meanwhile, in their conduct the committee is observing all the norms of congressional decorum for how members are recognized and addressed, in speaking/ yielding, in carefully asking for inclusions of material in the record. etc. It might seem labored, even cumbersome, but it’s such a contrast to Trump’s degradation of such a huge and important norm — the peaceful transfer of power — that it’s comforting. These people know how to behave. They have manners. Dignity. Most heartening.
Another thought. I’ve read/ heard quite a few pundits who have been critical of the January 6 committee and the hearings on one score or another. Too focused on the past. Not “messaging” in break-through ways. And then of course all the moaning and wailing from Republicans (who refused to take part). I’m sure my judgments are not as sharp or informed as national pundits, but darn, I think the Committee is doing a helluva job. Just to take the tsunami of information and testimony that they have received, and get it in some sort of order and focus strikes me as no small achievement. They’ve done that and more.
Moreover, you have to establish what actually happened before you decide what to do about it. They are telling us what actually happened. And I (a reasonably well informed citizen) am learning lots of stuff I did not previously know about what happened. A rehash it is not. A letdown it wasn’t. Why even FOX “News” (term used advisedly) has now decided to tune in and air the hearings.
One Republican who may be enjoying all this (but won’t say so)? Ron DeSantis.