Today’s January 6 Hearing Left Me Feeling Proud
There aren’t a whole lot of days or occasions of late when I have felt genuinely proud to be an American and hopeful for our country. But today was one of them.
I was able to watch or listen to most of today’s seventh hearing of the January 6th Select Committee. I felt, as I have from their beginning, that the Committee and its members are doing a terrific job of distilling a tremendous amount of information and testimony, presenting it in a way that draws a sharp focus on the essential issues and making clear what is at stake.
Part of what has moved me is that we are finally having a moment of reckoning, one that Donald Trump and his cronies have for so long and so maddeningly, eluded. No longer. The evidence is clear. The record stands. Trump is a disgrace and a traitor who tried to overthrow the government, of which he was the nominal, though out-going, head. He is a liar and blowhard who cares not a damn bit about the people he manipulates, many of whose lives are now in ruins.
Two of the latter were among today’s witnesses. Jason Van Tatenhove, formerly of The Oathkeepers, and Steven Ayres, who is, in his own words, “an ordinary American, a family man,” from northeast Ohio. Ayres was not affiliated with a particular group, but participated in the insurrection because he believed Trump’s Big Lie. “It was like I had horse blinders on,” said Ayres. He has subsequently lost his job and his home. His wife — one can only imagine what she has gone through — sat behind him.
Jason Van Tatenhove, from Montana, had been a spokesman for the Oath Keepers organization. He was, I thought, extremely articulate. He was also determined to quit “pussy-footing around” and say what was really going on: “The Oath Keepers are an organization that is committed to violence and which opposes the rule of law.” “It is not ‘an educational outreach organization’ (as some promotional literature says). It is an armed militia willing to use violence to get what it wants.”
Today’s hearing also included testimony from a crucial figure who has been, until today, MIA. That is, Pat Cipollone, a.k.a. “Patsy Baloney,” the chief White House lawyer for President Trump. He was drawn out of hiding by someone Trump termed “a nobody,” Cassidy Hutchinson. Hutchinson, aide to Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, had the courage to testify on the inside workings of the White House and left Cipollone no choice but to “man up” and show up, if a little late.
The other moment that left me feeling both proud and hopeful was the closing statements. There were four: first, the two members Congress who led today’s hearing, Jaime Raskin and Stephanie Murphy. They were followed by closing statements from the Chair and Vice-chair of the Committee, Bennie Thompson (right) and Liz Cheney.
Each of the four had important, even impassioned, things to say. Raskin, a Jew, has long been on the trail of White Supremacist and Anti-Semitic groups. Murphy is a Vietnamese immigrant, whose parents fled Communist rule in Vietnam. Bennie Thompson, a black man from Mississippi, who spoke today of the role of the federal government in delivering his parents from “second-class citizenship” to being being able to vote without harassment or obstacle. Liz Cheney did what she has done all along, laid the wood to Donald Trump.
It was not only the substantive and often eloquent words of each of the four, it was the visual montage of Raskin, a Jew, Murphy, Vietnamese, Thompson, a black man and finally Cheney, a white woman and Republican. Different races and religions, different stories and philosophies, but Americans all, standing up and embodying the best of our nation.
Yes, I felt pride, and perhaps even more important, hope for our country.