Two years ago, a group of patriots engaged in legitimate political discourse in the House chambers of the United States Capitol. They did so as part of an effort on behalf of President Donald Trump to steal the election. Ultimately their quest failed and many of them have been indicted and found guilty for that effort…. excluding the leaders who have not been held accountable.
Both realities recently were on display sometimes in split screen. On one side, the supporters of the legitimate political discourse were conducting their own anniversary commemoration by engaging in an historic Circus series of votes; on the other side, the people who put their lives on the line to defend the Capitol at the first legitimate political discourse were being honored with Presidential medals for their efforts. It is easy to imagine that split screen image as teaching tool in American history, politics, or civics classes.
Most of the public attention until now has been directed towards the criminal activity of the people engaged in legitimate political discourse on January 6, 2021. Less attention has been paid to the Representatives who subsequently returned to the House chambers and continued with the certification of the vote for Joe Biden for President. Now Republican Representatives decided to remind American people that January 6 is not only about the insurrectionists who stormed the Capital and were engaged in legitimate political discourse. It is also about the members of the House who planned, organized, and abetted those insurrectionists. They chose to do so through the mechanism of the election of the Speaker of the House. It turned out to be an historic 15-round match with Captain Chaos before order was achieved.
The actions of the Republicans in the thrilla in the Capitol Circus has now concluded. It is a part of American history, a part that is likely to make the history books for all the wrong reasons. All that was missing was actual fisticuffs although that came close to happening … and within the Republican Party itself!
What are the lessons to be learned from the legitimate political discourse by the Republican Representatives on the second anniversary of legitimate political discourse by the insurrections two years ago?
POLITICS MAKES FOR STRANGE BEDFELLOWS
The people involved in this unusual gift to We the People on legitimate political discourse are an unusual group themselves. Below is a survey of some of them.
Matt Gaetz House frat boy – First the frat boy had been a Florida Bushite. Then he became a Trumpican. Then he went on tour with a more flamboyant and well-known Trumpican. Finally with the election of the Speaker of the House, he became the center of attention, exactly where he wants to be. He was able to get everything he wanted by dragging the process out for 15 rounds, everything except for a pardon.
His actions infuriated other Republicans, one of whom had to be restrained live on TV from physically punching him. That escapade, too, is likely to become another teaching tool for the generation raised in video games. These other Republicans who endured the 15-round event including being forced to return to the Capitol when personal and medical reasons drew them away are not likely to forget the antics of the House frat boy. It is too early to say what the ramifications of those antics will be.
Dueling Morons – Two of the dumbest Republicans in the House were on opposite sides of the Speaker vote. Apparently one thought if there was no Speaker then therefore was no House in session therefore the Federal Government had been shut down therefore she was reducing spending. This is the mindset that will be on full display when negotiations over the budget spending limits commence.
By contrast, the previously outcast moron was front and center in the effort to elect Kevin McCarthy speaker. She knows it is better to have a speaker she can dominate than to have no speaker at all. As proof of her bonafides she waived around her cell phone with the initials “DT” on it. She is no longer in the doghouse. Instead she will have a seat at the table and help call the shots.
Insurrection Organizers – At least two of the organizers of the January 6 insurrection in 2021 and who have declined to respond to House subpoenas also figured in the vote in 2023. Don’t you love hearing about accountability and transparency from them? Imagine what happens when the DOJ finally gets around to investigating the ring-leaders of the insurrection instead of just the low-hanging foot-soldiers.
In fact, dozens of people who voted on January 6, 2021, in support of the effort by Donald Trump to steal the election, participated in the very same room on January 6, 2023, to elect a Speaker. The very moment they were fleeing the legitimate political discourse two years ago, now was the time they were voting for a new Speaker so they could be sworn into office. What did they intend to do once in office? Launch an investigation into the very people who had investigated that event on the House Select Committee.
All America has watched the Clown Caucus in action. Even Foxhub has had difficulty containing itself. If first impressions are the ones that are imprinted on the voting public, then what are the ones that the American voting public will remember from this Republican Circus? And to top it off, the Republicans went through all this to immediately launch a witch hunt against Hunter Biden, obviously the number one issue for Americans today.
Officially, the Circus in now in town for two years. One can’t help but be impressed by the sustained and calm unity maintained by the Democrats during this fiasco while the Republicans made fools of themselves. As the minority Party it is easy to imagine it maintaining such unity throughout this Congressional session. The Democrats will be able to present themselves as Team Normal while the Republicans continue to engage in legitimate political discourse as the laughing-stock party.
The Mark Randall Meadows tsunami has struck the American political arena in overwhelming force. It rates high on the political Richter scale and is the tip of the iceberg of what is to come. It hints at the crimes to be revealed in the documents he did not release to the House Committee. And if this is what Meadows has, imagine the treasure trove of criminality contained in the archival material just waiting for the Supreme Court ruling for it to be released. In this regard, the current hullabaloo over contempt charges pales in scope and significance before the crimes to be charged in the House report as the election season gets underway.
Let’s survey the damage wreaked by the text tornado.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
The House of Representatives consists of multiple subgroups which will react differently to the Meadows Massacre.
1. Fellow Conspirators
It is no secret that members of the House of Representatives conspired with the Hitman to steal the election and overthrow the Constitution. Now their names are known. Not yet to the general public as the members of the House Committee refrained from disclosing those names. It also means that the co-conspirators do not know if their names were included in the particular batch of texts which Meadows turned over so far.
Imagine the situation in the chambers. It was not good before. There already were tensions over masks, guns, and social media postings. Now some of the members have the mark of Meadows emblazoned on their foreheads. They know they are going to be indicted. They know they put their colleagues at risk. They know that they only regret the failure of the effort and being caught but not the attempt to steal the election and overthrow the Constitution.
2. TRINOs (Trumpicans in Name Only)
For TRINOs the final moment of truth is in sight. Even though they are not true believers in Little Donney Wanee as their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name, Say Hallelujah, they have acted as though they are. They voted not to impeach him twice. They voted not to investigate the assault on the Capitol. They voted not to hold in contempt the co-conspirator who defied the House Committee.
Now they are facing a series of votes that represent their last chance to regain their integrity. They are being asked to hold co-conspirators in contempt when the evidence of their crimes is overwhelming. They will be asked to approve a House Committee report recommending criminal indictments of the participants in the effort to steal the election. They will be asked to indict their own colleagues who have expressed no remorse over jeopardizing their lives.
It is easy to assume that TRINOs will remained submissive and in fear of the infamous “base.” It also will be true that these votes will come at a time when it is too late to be primaried. True there is the physical threat to themselves and their families. In this regard the TRINOs are like the election board workers who have voted with their feet to abandon their post. While some may retire, it also is possible that TRINOs may finally have reached their breaking point. Not all of them and not all at once, but little by little as the Big Lie can no longer be lived and they face how close the Hitman came to succeeding, how hard he worked at it, and the help that he had.
It is taken for granted that the Trumpicans will regain power in the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections. The Meadows Massacre may alter those algorithms. Never before will so many named criminals who sought to steal the election be running for Congress. At this point we do not know all the names. We do not know how widespread the conspiracy was. We do not know if the TRINOs will attempt to regain their integrity.
What all this means is that there is a new element to be factored in to political calculations. As this point we can only anticipate that the news will be worse for the co-conspirators as more is released and more people testify even if only to admit with every question that they are guilty by taking the Fifth.
Contempt of Congress is the least of the problems facing the co-conspirators. People like Steve Bannon, Jeffrey Clark, John Eastman, Mark Meadows and others (or their lawyers) must realize what is in store for them down the road. Once the documents from the archives and Meadows are released, the House Committee will not need testimony from them to incriminate them. The documents will render the pleas to take the Fifth absurd.
TRUTH OR TRUMP?
The Foxhub hosts have all shown that they are capable of distinguishing between truth and Trump. Their messages from January 6 are now part of the permanent record of the House Committee investigation into the Hitman’s assault on America. For a brief moment like Kevin McCarthy in the House chambers on the phone during the attack, the Foxhub hosts understood that it was Trumpicans ransacking the Capitol and that only one person could call them off. The Foxhub hosts had no illusions about what was transpiring.
I am sure many people cannot wait to the Foxhub hosts are subpoenaed and forced to testify live on national TV. Imagine the ratings. The only network that will not cover it is Foxhub itself.
The Foxhub hosts subsequent dishonesty in covering or rather not covering the investigation is likely to be a campaign theme in the 2022 elections. They are all on record now as being liars. They are all on record as being con artists duping their viewers for ratings and money. This is not to say that they are not true believers in the culture wars only that they cannot be trusted on the facts in what they say. Expect to see billboards with the words of the Foxhub hosts on them. Democrats now have the option of running not only against the Hitman, not only against the co-conspirators running for re-election but against the Foxhub hosts themselves.
Remember the motto: If it’s Foxhub, its bull-Trump.
STOP TREATING TRUMP AS AN ADULT
The stupidest way to analyze the actions of Donald Trump on January 6, 2021, are to treat him as an adult. Such nonsense guarantees the failure to understand him. He lacks the mental necessities to mastermind an attack. In this regard we are fortunate that a simpleminded charge was the Hitman rather than an adult criminal.
Reporters are not the only ones to make this error in judgement. Even the people at Foxhub clamoring for him to act reveal that they believe their own propaganda about him. If they understood who he was and is as a person, they never would have sent those texts.
On January 6, the immature child President was having the time of his life. He loved watching his people storming the Capitol. He genuinely believed that their physical forceful presence would intimidate Pence and the Republicans to undermine the peaceful transfer of power to the duly elected Joe Biden.
It did not occur to him that the members of the House would vacate the chambers for their own safety before the vote could be taken. He expected them to remain in their place.
It did not occur to him that his followers really would kill Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence and who knows who else if they had the chance.
It did not occur to him that if his people had successfully intimidated the Vice President that the results would not be accepted as valid by the country.
What the immature child did do was what he always does – he watched the show on TV. He did not walk down the street with his people as he said he would. Bonespur boy is an alpha male wannabee who never goes into the arena in the real world. Instead he watched the show on TV.
What caused him to act was not the texts he may have been receiving. What caused him to act was not anything someone in the White House said to him, assuming anyone in the White House had the temerity to challenge him to his face. What caused him to act was not the thought that anyone had done anything wrong.
What caused him to act was his realization that the show was over. His people had not caused the election results to be reversed, they had only delayed the inevitable. The fleeing Representatives would return, the vote would be held, and Biden would be certified as the winner. Only with this realization was he willing to say anything to his people. It was a good show. He loves his people. But the time had come to return home.
He may not have realized how widespread the belief in the Big Lie would become.
He may not have realized how quickly Trumpicans would coverup the truth and resist uncovering it.
And he may not have realized that a House Committee would be formed that would uncover the truth and recommend criminal indictments against him.
Up until that time, the President of the United States who openly acknowledges that he prefers dictators and authoritarian leaders to democratically-elected ones, was having the best day of his presidency. To see his people storm the Capital to win him the election brought joy to his heart as he watched it on TV. He was like a child at the circus not wanting the show to end.
Mark Meadows is not often compared to Toto. However like the famed dog pulling back the curtain to expose the truth of the smoke-and-mirrors Wizard, Meadows has revealed some of the truth about the Liar in Chief. While not the whole truth, it at least is some of the truth. Plus it is important enough to enrage the exposed former President.
DONALD TRUMP CAN NOT READ A BOOK
The first truth Meadows exposed actually is the well-known fact that the simple-minded child with the emotional maturity of a three year old lacks the mental necessities to read a book. It should be noted that this is not his own fault, it’s just the way his mind is wired. If he was in elementary school today, he would be considered special and alternate means would be used to try to teach him other than through reading. For example, visual means since he can watch television all day long.
During his administration, periodically books would be published about him by reporters, former White House employees, and even a relative. Almost always he would have a comment, negative of course, about the publication following day. I always wondered how he was able to read the book so quickly until I realized, of course, he had not read it at all.
With the Meadows book, he simply took for granted that it would be favorable. He had no hesitancy in promoting the Meadows book as a holiday gift item. Presumably Meadows knew that his boss would not read the book but how he could be so sure someone else would not read it and spill the truth prior to publication? And why did he include the truth anyway? He had to have known that sooner or later the truth would come out and the proverbial Trump would hit the fan.
IF DONALD TRUMP HAD NOT BEEN PRESIDENT HE WOULD BE DEAD
The second truth Meadows exposed is about Covid. The Meadows version of the Covid infection is quite different from the “official” version. The patient was sick before he went public and then he tried to blame Hope Hicks. Before the heroic ride around the parking lot and the macho removal of the mask at the White House, there was an extremely sick person on the brink of dying. He was weak, disheveled, and receiving treatment not yet approved for the general public.
Meadows disclosed that the doctors decided to put the sick President on a respirator in the White House and hope for the best.
Meadows disclosed that the decision to transport the sick President to the hospital would be see as an act of capitulation. Could there be a worse example of leadership?
Meadows disclosed that only the image of being taken out on a gurney was sufficient to cause the sick President to go voluntarily while he still could walk.
Meadows disclosed that the sick President was so weak he was unable to carry his briefcase.
Meadows disclosed that he arranged for unauthorized medicine to be secretly delivered for the sick President.
Naturally the sick President erupted in anger at that time when Meadows disclosed the truth to the press on how dire the situation was. That should have been a warning as to how he would react if the truth was published in a book…even one he could not read.
If Trump had not had access to this level of care there is a good chance he would not have survived.
SCIENCE SAVED HIM.
He was not saved by injecting disinfectant.
He was not saved by horse medicine.
He was not saved by mouthwash.
He was not saved by distrusting science.
Instead he was saved by following the science. This scenario is totally unacceptable to Trumpicans and they simply will not believe it…. assuming they even hear about it on Foxhub.
MEADOWS WAS A CO-CONSPIRATOR ON 1/6
The third truth that Meadows has exposed is that he was a co-conspirator in the attempt to steal the election and overthrow the Constitution. The House Committee has now voted to recommend that Meadows be indicted for contempt. Enough information has been released so far to indict him for sedition as well. Far from being a casual bystander, Meadows was an active participant in the attempt to steal the election and overthrow the Constitution. One wonders what is going through his mind now since surely he is intelligent enough to see his future is a criminal one.
Obviously, the House Committee would be helped if Meadows told the whole truth. It can expect additional documents from both Meadows and the Hitman once the claim of Executive Privilege is disposed of by the Supreme Court at some point early next year. It can expect Meadows will be forced to appear before the committee at some point next year. It also can expect that he will take the Fifth repeatedly. Meadows is still under the impression that he has a place in the Trump administration after the next presidential election….plus he also may realize what may happen to him if he did tell the truth.
MEADOWS LIKE PENCE AND MCCARTHY IS ON THE TRUMP LIST
Mike Meadows has joined Mike Pence and Kevin McCarthy on the Trump list. Once you are disloyal you are placed on the list and never can be removed from. It doesn’t matter what you do, what you kiss, or how many times you visit him, nothing can change the fact of your betrayal. Meadows betrayed his boss on both Covid and January 6. The fact that he now refuses to cooperate with the House Committee and has filed a silly lawsuit is meaningless. It’s too late. Thousands of documents already have been released. More will follow as the Courts eviscerate the claim of executive privilege.
How many times can people plead the Fifth without openly admitting that they are guilty?
How many people can plead the Fifth to every question without openly admitting they all are guilty and you know who the Hitman is?
Mark Meadows has now arrived at his moment of truth. Soon he will have to decide to whether or not to tell the House Committee the whole truth or not. Mike Pence who still hopes to be President and Kevin McCarthy who still hopes to be Speaker of the House will face the same moment of truth. One wonders how long before the three of them realize that they never will be removed from the Trump list and have no future in a Trump-dominated parry. In other words, what do they have to gain by covering up for the Hitman when he is perfectly prepared to throw them under the bus?
So far Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Jeffrey Clark, and John Eastman have yet to realize that they are going to be indicted for sedition in the House report. Is Mark Meadows equally shortsighted and stupid? Will the light bulb ever click in his head? Will he be willing to make a deal in exchange for telling the truth? His book suggests he might be but his actions so far suggest he won’t, at least not yet.
Nationally renowned American historian Annette Gordon-Reed has been everywhere this past year speaking out on history and the culture wars. Actually she has not been anywhere except for her home in New York City. It just seems that way because during the COVID pandemic she has been everywhere virtually without having to leave home. That also means I have had the opportunity to hear her virtually without having to leave home either (and read her as well).
This blog is dedicated to highlighting a year of Gordon-Reed. I do not claim to have watched all her performances, read all her articles, or articles about her, but there are enough examples to provide a good insight into the thinking of one of America’s foremost historians discussing some of the hot-button cultural war topics of the times. To include all her performances would make for a very long blog.
July 2, 2020: Erasing History or Making History? Race, Racism, and the American Memorial Landscape
The AHA executive director James Grossman hosted David W. Blight, Yale University, and Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University. The interview is available online.
In this blog, I will focus on the comments of Gordon-Reed and given the space limitations will not be able to cover everything. One notes that the interview occurred shortly after the murder of George Floyd.
She commented that the culture war fight over monuments shifts attention from economic and social concerns. While that is true, symbolic acts are important, too. For example, the toppling of the statue of King George III in lower Manhattan after the signing of the Declaration of Independence was not simply a mere “symbolic” act. The challenge is to use the symbolic to further the other issues and not diminish them.
Gordon-Reed took great issue with the lumping together of the founders of the United States of America and the founders of the Confederacy. The founding documents of the Confederacy typically are overlooked compared to the military exploits of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Although the names of two political entities are similar and both share the American Revolution in common, the values expressed in the two sets of founding documents are not the same.
One could go one step further than she did. If England had ever freed the colonies on its own initiative as it later did Canada, it is quite possible that it would have divided the colonies into multiple nations. Without the shared experience of the American Revolution and leadership of George Washington, little held the 13 colonies together in 1776 beyond the previous allegiance to England. The Confederate Constitution provides us with a glimpse of how the South might have been governed as an independent country right from the start if there had not been a United States.
She considers July 4, 1776, to be the birthday of the country. She said there was nothing inevitable from the arrival of the English in 1607 in Virginia to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. She adds that 1776 also unleashed the anti-slavery movement (although it took until Juneteenth for it be fulfilled nationally). Although she did participate in The New York Times 1619 Project, her comments indicate she does not support replacing 1776 with 1619.
On the subject of memorials, monuments, and flags, Gordon-Reed said we need to have this kind of discussions [referring to the vote in Mississippi on changing the state flag] because people do terrible things. She opposes taking down monuments outside the law but supports the Jeffersonian idea of having periodic discussions about the monuments we do have. For the statue of Teddy Roosevelt at the American Museum of Natural History, she favors the removal the two people on his side due to the impact on children who see it. Personally, I favor adding a (white) Rough Rider of the same size and musculature as those two.
October 29, 2020: Jefferson: Then and Now (Massachusetts Historical Society)
The reputations of all of the founders have changed dramatically over the course of American history, none more than that of Thomas Jefferson. Historians Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University, and Peter Onuf, University of Virginia, will discuss the implications of recent political and social developments for our image of the slave-owning author of the Declaration of Independence, emphasizing the importance of situating Jefferson in his own historical context for a better understanding of the history and future prospects of democracy in America. Online here.
Sometimes, Gordon-Reed really tells it like is us with no sugarcoating. For example, there could not have a United States of America without slave states – get over it. This observation may be too real for people who prefer two-dimensional history. She comments that in the real world, Jefferson didn’t know what to do about slavery. He had faith in science and the enlightenment. Change would continue. We had defeated the most powerful nation on earth and there was an optimism that good things would happen as time went on. The idea of infinite possibilities seems naïve today but not then – the Founders thought things could become better.
One telling comment rings especially true: we need to believe in a shared past.
Gordon-Reed, as a biographer, tends to think of Thomas Jefferson as a person and not a cliché. He was both a slave-owner and author of the Declaration of Independence. Both aspects are part of who he was an individual human being. She suggests we think of him as a complex person who wanted to make a mark in the world and did.
Gordon-Reed adds a personal note on her attraction to Jefferson. She became Jefferson fan in school. She learned that life and people are not simple. Jefferson had to have had a curious mind and that appealed to her. Yes historical researched shows people are flawed people but that does not eliminate the human need for heroes. We can recognize the importance of people and commemorate them without the adoration. She predicts that if we can revive a civic sense of democracy, then Jefferson will be an important figure.
She considers patriotism to mean being critical and telling the truth. After all, you can love your children without believing everything they do is right.
May 4, 2021: Black America’s Neglected Origin Stories (Atlantic, online, print June issue)
She begins her article with the revelation that she took Texas history in the fourth and seventh grades. I wonder how many states teach state history even once. In a book review on her new book, On Juneteenth, University of Texas Professor H. W Brands notes that the 7th grade teaching of Texas history to Texans occurs at the same age Catholic children are confirmed and Jewish kids are bar- and bat-mitzvahed (NYT May 9, 2021).
In those grades, she learned about the period of Spanish exploration in Texas. In particular, she recalls “stray references to a man of African descent—a ‘Negro’ named Estebanico—who travelled throughout Texas. She calls him “one of the first people of African descent to enter the historical record in the Americas.” Estebanico’s facilities with languages garners additional attention leading to more generalized comments about Africans as language-learners in American history. She notes that the 1520s is roughly a century earlier than when the most popular stories date the arrival of Africans. Gordon-Reed devotes a paragraph to observing the Virginia origin story [meaning 1619] leaves out this earlier time.
Next she turns to the origin stories of Jamestown in 1607 and Plymouth in 1620. She recognizes the importance of origin stories for individuals, groups, and nations. While these two stories include interactions with the local people, she laments the absence of Africans in either one. Gordon-Reed suggests St. Augustine, Florida, beginning in 1565, to be added to the mix.
Her next point is more crucial. In her studies of American history, the British and its colonies tend to be privileged in the narrative. Spain, France, and the Dutch tend to be historical footnotes, ignored or minimized. England was the winner in all these relationships. The implication of Gordon-Reed’s observations is that beside the traditional issue of the role of Africans in American history, there is separate issue of the privileging of English or Anglo history in American history. I would refine that further to privileging the New-England-Massachusetts-Harvard perspective based on where these histories were written. White people from New York to the Confederates can be shortchanged in these histories as well.
May 9, 2021: Texas on Her Mind (NYT)
In the aforementioned book review, Brands makes a telling point about her. He cites the story she would have learned about Cynthia Ann Parker. This staple of the 7th grade class tells of “a white girl stolen by Comanches on the Texas frontier and adopted into the tribe. She bore a son, Quannah, who became the last great warrior of the Comanches.” He quotes Gordon-Reed realizing “that so many wrong things were packed into this one narrative.” Such as the Comanches “defending from the whites … land they had seized from other Indians. She discovered that Indians held slaves, with some [of them] for this reason siding with the Confederacy during the Civil War.” Kidnapping girls to make them brides also offended her.
I would comment that for Gordon-Reed, the curious individual growing up in this milieu in Texas of Africans, Comanches, Confederates, Indians, Spanish, and (white) Texans helped prepare her to tackle a subject like Thomas Jefferson. She has the perceptive ability to see beyond the two-dimensional stereotypes. She was blessed with encountering to many of them they could not all be true.
Her new book, On Juneteenth, combines history and family memoir of her life in Texas. As a child, Juneteenth was a fun day of drinking soda pop to excess, fire crackers, visiting family and friends like July 4 is a national holiday. Gordon-Reed identifies family as the essence of the holiday and separation of family as enslavement.
Given all the current fuss about the Alamo and slavery, she comments that it is impossible to teach Texas history and the Alamo without including slavery. The Texas Constitution differs from the U.S. Constitution in that it is explicit about slavery and racism. Mexico had outlawed slavery. The Texas slaveholders wanted to be part of the Cotton Kingdom with slavery and not Mexico without it. Mexico’s desire for a buffer with the Comanche often is overlooked as well.
Slavery in Texas predates slavery in Virginia. It began in the 1500s (1528) with Spain. The story was not one of plantation but exploration. One African even reached the Pacific as one of four survivors. Gordon-Reed wonders what the impact would be if these Spanish/African memories were added to America’s origin story that didn’t privilege the English and Virginia. She wants such an adjustment to be considered.
July 12, 2021: Jan. 6 was a “turning point” in American history
Gordon-Reed sees January 6 as “potentially a turning point in the country’s history….The whole concept of democracy and the republic are at stake. Confederates have not abandoned the “Lost Cause.” The defenders of Confederate statues have not repudiated that past. They have not changed.
Strangely enough, the Confederates actually seem to have won the cultural battle over the Civil War. When Gordon-Reed was growing up in Texas, she only occasionally saw a Confederate flag. Now she sees them more than she ever had in her entire childhood. In the constant battle for power, she points to the plantation weddings as an example of how white people today can block out the real meaning of plantations in American history. She might have added that to some extent that has been going since the book and the movie Gone with the Wind in the 1930s Just because people admire the chivalry, nostalgia, and romantic setting of a medieval castle does not mean people want to live in the Middle Ages.
July 4, 2021: Between Juneteenth and the Fourth of July (NYT)
Almost as soon as they were published, Jefferson’s soaring words in the Declaration’s preamble took on particular meaning to African Americans: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”,,, Every major Black leader or commentator on Black life in the United States, from the 18th century until today, has used the Declaration to analyze and critique the status of Black Americans.
What does all this mean as the Congressional investigation of 1/6 is set to begin? Gordon-Reed is right to point out the importance, I would say necessity, of having a shared story for the country. Obviously we do not have one. The January 6 Commission will show for the record that we live in two separate countries making little pretense that we are united. Whether or not we can create that shared narrative by July 4, 2026, is highly problematical. But if the history organizations want to contribute to that effort, then Annette Gordon-Reed would be an excellent choice to spearhead that effort.
[F]ortunately, the Declaration does not belong solely to historians. Like all good writing, the words took on a meaning outside the context in which they were written.
The notion of equality referred to in the Declaration has become an animating principle in American life. Indeed Jefferson, by the end of his life, understood that his words on the subject had taken on a larger meaning. They even influenced Gen. Gordon Granger and, thus, played a role in Juneteenth….
It may be hard for some to do this in our fractious times, but both holidays should be used to reflect upon the common value that Juneteenth and the Fourth have come to express: the recognition of the equal humanity and dignity of people the world over.
The fate of the constitutional republic of the United States of America remains unknown. Will it survive to celebrate its 250th anniversary? Will it dissolve into its constituent parts? Will it simply muddle along under constant strain because the alternative is too scary?
No one knows the answer to these questions. Before beginning a series of history blogs on the subject, I would like to note how easy it would have been for the constitutional republic already to have ended. A lot of things had to work out for us to get even this far and anyone one of them could have turned out differently.
THERE COULD HAVE BEEN A BIGGER TURNOUT ON 1/6
Approximately 8000 people showed up on January 6, not all of them armed. When I first wrote Seven Days in January: This Time It Is Not a Movie on January 3, I asked what would happen if different combinations of heavily-armed right wing militias had stormed the Capitol. I wondered if there were sufficient ground forces to stop them. Now we know. Even with the lower number of insurrectionists the defensive forces were inadequate to do the job.
1. Why weren’t there adequate forces to defend the Capitol?
2. Why was the turnout for the insurrection so low?
3. Despite the low numbers, what would the response have been if Mike Pence had been hanged and Nancy Pelosi had been killed?
SUPPOSE THE TRUMPICANS HAD BEEN AS WELL ORGANIZED AS THE WOKE
The Woke were prepared for the post-election attempt by the Trumpicans to steal the election; the Trumpicans were not. The Woke correctly anticipated the Trumpican attempt to steal the election. They had planning sessions as to what to do. More importantly, they had planning sessions on what not to do: No cries to “Defund the Police.” No toppling of statues. No burning of flags. They conducted training sessions. They planned for contingencies. They coordinated. They vowed not to provide Trumpicans with the slogans and photo-ops that would undermine their cause. They were organized, disciplined, ready and successful.
By contrast, the Trumpican side was true to their leader. He bought a lifetime of incompetence and ineptitude to managing his post-election attempt to steal the election. He was not prepared at all. He had no planning sessions. He developed no strategies. He organized nothing. When your legal effort is being led by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, you know you have a weak case. Everything was ad hoc, impulsive, on the fly. The DOJ wasn’t ready; in the end a nobody from left field attempted to stage a coup within the department that went nowhere. In the end the corporations that were being accused of criminal activity based on wishful thinking decided to strike back through legal action.
The planning for the insurrection itself consisted of a call to show up, attend a rally, and walk to the Capitol – it will be wild. There was no planning about what the people should do once they got inside the Capitol. As Mary Trump said about her uncle, a child in the body of an adult with the emotional maturity of a three-year old, he “enjoyed every second…He is a physical coward but he’s perfectly happy when other people commit violence on his behalf.” Even the rightwing groups mocked the effort for being unorganized and inadequately planned. Once inside, the insurrectionists were busy taking selfies and souvenirs. Skilled revolutionaries they were not.
1. Suppose next time the insurrection leader is an adult?
2. Suppose next time the insurrectionists turn out in force and do have a plan?
3. Suppose next time the Woke aren’t as well organized and prepared to stop the steal?
WHAT IF THE CORONAVIRUS HAD OCCURRED EARLIER IN HIS TERM?
On numerous occasions during the pandemic, various people in the administration have made fools of themselves for their ineptitude, incompetence, and ignorance. They did not understand the science nor did they want do. One of the questions historians will ask, if they aren’t already, is why did the eventual loser throw away the opportunity to be a winner.
1. Imagine if he had worn a mask.
2. Imagine if had pretended to be sympathetic.
3. Imagine if he had put Mike Pence in charge.
Of course, he couldn’t change who he was even though it cost him the election. He simply was too simple-minded, narcissistic and lacking in mental necessities to transform the virus into a leadership challenge as a wartime president. Instead all he cared about was the Dow Jones and once that crisis was solved he lost interest.
But if the virus had struck earlier and if the vaccine had been ready earlier and if the vaccine had been distributed earlier and America was looking back on the virus on election day the way China is, he would have been re-elected. He will never understand that.
WHAT IF THE DEMOCRATS HAD NOT NOMINATED JOE BIDEN?
While 7 million votes is a lot numerically, in percentage terms, it is not that great. A small shift of votes in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and one congressional district and there would have been no need to try to steal the election. All things considered, that is not a lot of votes. It also shows how thin the Democratic bench is and how Democrats may need Biden to run again in 2024 to prevent a Trumpican victory.
Our next presidential election is the bicentennial of the election of 1824. That presidential election was one of the ugliest in American history. There were five candidates. American was transitioning from the First Party system of Federalists and Anti-Federalists/Republicans of Adams and Jefferson to the Second Party system of Whigs and Democrats with Clay/Webster and Jackson. I first wrote about it in September 2016 The Presidential Election of 1824: Lessons for Today and tried to resume the discussion in December 2020 Biden and Cuomo: The End of an Era. In that blog I wrote about the Diversity Party and the Democratic Party as two of the parties. The question was how long the two factions could remain united in one party. The answer is still unknown but I think it is safe to say both groups understand the stakes if they don’t.
In that blog, I deferred writing about the corresponding division of the other party between the Republicans and the Trumpicans. In a little more than a month since then, that division has become obvious to everyone. The actions of the state parties such as in Arizona and really-off-the-rails Oregon, the votes in the House on the electors and the impeachment, the vote in the Senate on constitutionality of the impeachment all show that there is no civil war in the Republican Party. The Trumpicans have won. The Republicans are retiring from the battlefield. The Lincoln Project Republicans aren’t welcome anymore and they know it. There is no place for them.
Mitch McConnell is four years too late to battle to save the Republican Party from the Trumpicans. He got his tax cut to help rich people get richer and he got his judges. If the price is the destruction of the Republican Party for the Trumpican Party, then he will have to decide if it was worth it. The people who need to set up a third party are the Republicans and not the Trumpicans. There is no Republican Party left to take back.
That is why the fate of the constitutional republic remains unknown and precarious. The United States of America now has one national party that is dedicated not to the rule of law under the Constitution but to the wishes of one immature individual with no conscience, no ethics, and no morals. For now at least, he is in complete control of his party. The vaunted Biden working relationships with members across the aisle means nothing. Those are the Republicans on their way out. He has no Senate experience with Trumpicans. He has no House experience with Trumpicans. They do not consider him legitimate.
The Democrats still control the House…by a little and the in-power Party tends to lose seats in the non-Presidential election. The Democrats barely control the Senate but there still are some Republicans left there so some legislation may be possible. The Democrats have no margin for error. The continued existence of the United States of America as a constitutional republic depends on them not making one.
America’s Third Civil War is not a new topic. Typically, people have spoken a “culture wars” which sounds less violent than “civil war.” But underneath the more refined talk of a difference in culture or values was the threat of violence. That violence spilled out into the open on January 6, 2021. Now people are wondering if that was a one-time event or whether it signaled the elevation of a verbal conflict to a physical one: are we at Defcon OMG!?
The Third Civil War: A Look Back
In December, 2019, The Atlantic magazine cover proclaimed the need to act to prevent the culture wars from becoming violent civil war. In December 2020, I decided to do an anniversary examination of the articles in that issue. The goal was to compare what the writers thought back then with what had actually happened since their articles were written.
I did manage to write a couple of blogs that did just that. The blogs were
I thought I would be able to proceed in a nice methodical and leisurely manner through the magazine reviewing what people had written. Little did I know that the President of the United States would launch a “Steal the Election” campaign to undermine American democracy. Little did I know how far he would go to prevent the country from being able to celebrate its 250th anniversary because it no longer existed as a constitutional republic. As a result, I had to recalibrate. Perhaps I will resume this retrospective after January 20, 2021, depending on what happens.
AMERICA’S THIRD CIVIL WAR
My first foray into America’s Third Civil War occurred during a battle for a Supreme Court appointment
After writing about the first civil war in the American Revolution and the second civil war in the Civil War, I turned to the third one.
The third civil is different from the previous two.
It may be said to have begun in the 1960s. At that time, baby boomer males could be drafted into a war they did not want to fight and baby boomer females could have babies they did not want to have.
It may be said to have begun on August 17, 1992, when Pat Buchanan delivered his “Culture War” speech to the Republican National Convention.
It may be said to have begun in 2008 with Sarah Palin’s rally cry “to take back the country.”
Regardless of the preliminaries, history may well record that with the contentious and close vote on October 6, 2018, of 50-48 between Kava-Yeses and Kava-Noes the battle was fully engaged. There is no turning back now. When Charles Blow writes an op-ed in the New York Times that “Liberals, This Is War,” he fails to recognize that for conservatives it has been war for decades and appointing a fifth Republican legislator to the Supreme Court is a long overdue victory.
As with America’s first civil war, America’s third civil war will be intensely divisive at the local level. People who have known each other for years as best friends for life suddenly will morph into combatants. The family Thanksgiving meal will become a battleground. While it will be illegal for Kava-Noes and Kava-Yeses to marry, there is always the possibility that some of the guests will be from opposite sides of the divide. Any social engagement will run the risk of degenerating into a brawl. Hosts and hostesses will be obligated to do due diligence to ensure a peaceful event. College admission officers will need to scrutinize applicants carefully to maintain the purity of the campus. God forbid people from different sides should be assigned as roommates! In short, people will constantly have to be on guard to make sure they know when it is safe to speak….
[W]e have a president who feasts on divisiveness. There will be no “come let us reason together” in this administration. Far from it. Instead he will stoke the flames of hatred and rejoice in the dividing of America. Never have We the People had a president who is so antagonistic to the very idea of We the People. Never have We the People had a president who is so willing, eager, and ready to campaign on behalf of hatred. Never have We the People had a president who is so antagonistic to the very goal of e pluribus unum, a motto that has been abandoned by both national political parties and mocked by our president. But there should not be any surprise that our president promotes the division of the country. What else would you expect from Putin’s poodle?
In general terms, the preview has come true. The Senate vote on the judicial appointment did not prove to be the breaking point nor did the judicial appointment two years later just before the presidential election. I was still writing from a cultural wars perspective and not a physical war with deaths from violence. I expected the presidential election to be the point of no return.
For the domestic trumperists, there are consequences to their actions.
1. They face the prospect of prison time.
2. They face mounting and expensive legal bills.
3. They may have lost their job.
4. They may rethink what it means to assault the government in the real world as opposed to at a political rally or in online chatter.
On the other hand, for many who participated in the attack or watched it, it was victory that produced a natural high. That intoxication may embolden them to try again.
For the country, there are consequences just as there were after 9/11. The post-9/11 changes have mostly been confined to airports where people now take security inspections for granted. Otherwise, life pretty much has returned to normal. This time may be different.
1. The Capitol is now in the Green Zone – How long will that last? What will it mean to tourists and school trips to see the nation’s capital in a permanent shutdown due to terrorist threat?
2. How many more Green Zones will be needed? Will even Alabama and South Dakota need to protect themselves? A lot of the chatter may turn out to be hype. Think of the army of 50,000 poll watchers that was supposed to be raised on November 3. Maybe the expected assaults will fizzle out.
3. Will there be lone wolves and soft targets? – After 9/11 there was a lot of attention/discussion on soft targets. The veterans with Iraq and Afghanistan experiences are well-trained in such tactics. There is plenty of information on the web about how prepare a bomb and the tactics to be used to deploy it to maximize effect. Will mentally-ill young males switch from attacking schools to attacking other locations that provide more vulnerable targets?
4. Who can you trust? – The supporters of the insurrection can be in Congress, the Capitol Police, the National Guard, the local police, the military, and the Secret Service. They could be your neighbors, your co-workers, and even members of your friendly local historical society. How do you know?
At this point it is too early to tell what will happen. The people who participated in the insurrection and who have been arrested are claiming they were following orders, answering the call of their President, and requesting pardons. Such pardons would be an open admission that the President really is an “existential threat to our democracy and our country as we know it” just as Pelosi said and the second impeachment claims.
The next round in the war will be the pardons issued on the final full day of his presidency. The parting gesture of the Loser undoubtedly will unleash another round of at least verbal conflict. It also may be seen as throwing the insurrectionists under the bus if they are excluded.
January 6, 2021 transformed the culture war into a civil war. It’s become a double civil war. It is a war between the Trumpicans and the Woke for control of the country. But it also is a war between the Trumpicans and the Republicans for the control of a political party. No one knows how either war will turnout. What can be said, is that it won’t end on January 20, 2021 and it will prove more dangerous to the future of this country than COVID-19 has been.
There are issues to be considered which I didn’t address in my blog about political thrillers from the early 1960s and the world today.
There has been a lot of discussion about the 25th Amendment but very little about Presidential succession. The Vice President is necessary to activate the removal process. The Vice President also was a target of the insurrection. The phrase “Hang Mike Pence” was heard and a functioning gallows had been constructed as if its builders were prepared to use it. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE 25TH AMENDMENT IF THERE IS NO VICE PRESIDENT?
Next in line for Presidential succession is the Speaker of the House. However the Speaker is not next in line to fill a Vice President opening. There is a process of selection and confirmation involving the President and the Congress to fill that slot. Suppose the President doesn’t name anyone to fill the position in case the Trump insurrectionists had hanged Mike Pence? What then?
Assuming the Vice President had survived the attempted coup, which he did, then what? Let’s say what is left of the Cabinet had approved the initiative. That action then is to be transmitted to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives according to the Amendment. Suppose they are dead? What does the Vice President do?
Political thrillers are out of vogue now. Perhaps the recent events will cause a revival. It is easy to see now in an emergency situation how inadequate the 25th Amendment is. With all its checks and balances built into the text the process could drag on for weeks. That doesn’t cut it in during an insurrection.
True, it never occurred to the authors and ratifiers of the 25th Amendment that one day a President of the United States would foster an insurrection to remain in power. Now we know better. The Amendment needs to be amended.
LOSS OF CONTROL
In all the political thrillers, the instigator or brains behind the action is in charge. That person knows what is going on and is in command of the actors. On December 7 and 9/11, the chain of command was established and maintained. The people did what they were supposed to do according to the plan. That is what was expected.
In the Trump Insurrection, the instigator brought all his shortcomings and inadequacies to the event. That doomed it to failure. The person with no management, organization, or planning skills in his business career and in the coronavirus pandemic, demonstrated the same shortcomings on January 6….for which we should be grateful. The simple-minded immature child President lacks the mental necessities or cognitive skills to effectively organize an insurrection. All the weenie in-chief could do was light a match, pour oil on the fire, and then vanish to go watch it on TV. Next to taking away his Twitter account, imagine taking away his TV!
He had no idea what the insurrectionists would actually do. It was not a 12/7, 9/11, or political thriller situation. He had no control over the people acting in his name. If his defense lawyers are smart they should plead he has the brains of a child and should be tried in juvenile court.
Who are the “people” the twice-impeached President always refers to? Remember in the Georgia telephone call how he talked about “people” who would be angry. Then there really were the “people” who supported the telephone call – it proved he was fighting for them and hadn’t given up. Now again we hear about the “people” who would be very angry if he was penalized for his actions on January 6. After all, didn’t he give a “perfect” speech, an appropriate speech, just like his “perfect” call on his failed extortion attempt that led to his first impeachment?
I first became aware of these “people” after the 2016 election. One of the stock phrases Hannity used to attack those who criticized the legitimacy of the election was along the lines of he had been “duly elected by 63 million people.” He never mentioned the 66 million who had voted for the Democratic candidate. Why not? It would seem because those “people” aren’t “real people” and part of We the People. The 63 million who voted for the correct candidate are the Real Americans, not those other people.
Remember, Real Americans don’t get the coronavirus and die from it; “those” people do.
The exact same sequence is being played out today. All you hear about on Foxhub is the 75 million (or more accurately 74 million) who voted for the Sore Loser. Look at the increase over the 2016 vote total of 63 million! Somehow the 81 million who voted for the Democratic candidate are ignored. The 3 million fraudulent votes in 2016 became 5 million fraudulent votes when he needed more to overcome his growing gap by at least one vote. In 2020, it became over 7 million rigged votes. Over 7 million, because he really won by a landslide. Just as the 66 million in 2016 and the 81 million in 2020 don’t exist on Foxhub, so they don’t exist in the mind of the twice-impeached President. When he refers to “people,” he means only his people, the Real Americans. Confederates are Real Americans and patriots in Trump’s universe.
Such thinking also applies to Trumpicans. They feel that they have been disenfranchised by people who are not Real Americans. What are they to do they asked at the insurrection?
The Capitol is our goal. Everything else is a distraction. Every corrupt member of Congress locked in one room and surrounded by real Americans is an opportunity that will never present itself again.
Did that include Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and all the other Trumpican traitors who voted to reverse the election? If the insurrectionists had confronted the Representatives and Senators would they simply have open fired on all of them?
At the end of the day, you mark my word, we will plant our flag on the desk of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. And Donald J. Trump if it boils down to it.
What flag is that? The American flag or the Trump flag? Once the forces of rebellion were unleashed, they were beyond the control of the twice-impeached President gleefully watching the mayhem on TV. He was more upset about losing the PGA Championship than he was about risking the lives of 536 elected officials and their staff.
And suppose they had disrupted the vote, what would have changed? Nothing. No matter what happened on January 6, Joe Biden would still become President on January 20. Did they know that?
So now there are 50 additional targets besides the Capitol. The story is not yet over. It will not end with the departure of the twice-impeached President. At this point, the ending to this political thriller in the real world remains unknown. On seven-day period stretched from insurrection to impeachment. The week will take us to inauguration. Who knows what will happen then? How many people can the FBI round up before they are pardoned?
There is one thought expressed at the insurrection which deserves attention. It was a call by one of the participants for exactly that:
We are here. See us! Notice us! Pay attention!”
If Joe Biden wants to be a unity President that is exactly what he has to do. Painful as that might be, he can’t unify the country unless he does pay attention to the people who oppose him. After all, Trumpicans still are Americans.
January 6, 2021 may join December 7 and 9/11 as dates that will live in infamy in American history. Right now it is too early to tell. Many Americans already don’t know those earlier dates anyway. So far January 6 is like the other two in that it was a one-time attack on America. That could change on January 20 or in scattered state capitols throughout the country. It also differs in that it was an attack on America led by the American President and the attackers themselves were American and not foreign. Now the President is being impeached for a second time and the attackers are being arrested as may the current President may be once he loses his immunity.
But January 6, 2021, is an historic date for other reasons as well. It was a date when the deaths from the coronavirus exceeded 4000, a milestone. It also was the date the results of two Senate elections on January 5, 2021, in Georgia became known. That event would have been front-page above-the fold-news in other times. It was big news in the morning but by the afternoon it had become eclipsed. This blog is dedicated to those elections.
The movie “Hidden Figures” already has been the subject of blogs (Hidden Figures, The Right Stuff and the Coronavirus: Who Will Tell the Story?, April 30, 2020 and Negroes and the American Dream: Hidden Figures, Open Dreams, March 11, 2018). It is regrettable that so many of the movie’s great moments turned out not to be literally true The Kevin Costner character was not a historically-real person. One powerful scene in which he did not participate also was not literally true although it was symbolically true.
Karl Zielinski: Mary, a person with an engineer’s mind should be an engineer. You can’t be a computer the rest of your life.
Mary Jackson: Mr. Zielinski, I’m a negro woman. I’m not gonna entertain the impossible.
Karl Zielinski: And I’m a Polish Jew whose parents died in a Nazi prison camp. Now I’m standing beneath a spaceship that’s going to carry an astronaut to the stars. I think we can say we are living the impossible. Let me ask you, if you were a white male, would you wish to be an engineer?
Mary Jackson: I wouldn’t have to. I’d already be one.
The Polish Jew who encourages her in the movie is fictional, but apparently the real life NASA engineer Kazimierz Czarnecki did encourage her to pursue advanced training and became her longtime mentor.
So here we have this episode of a “negro woman” and a “Polish Jew” exemplifying the American Dream in a positive and optimistic setting. Life as it should be.
GEORGIA SENATE ELECTIONS
The Georgia Senate elections demonstrate the exact same upbeat message as the movie scene. While Ossoff is not a Polish Jew (Russian/Lithuanian descent), the parallel is close enough.
The importance of the Georgia Senate elections transcends the election itself. If either candidate had won individually, the election would have been historic for Georgia. The unusual circumstance of a having two simultaneous Senate elections only added to the historical significance.
The national implications magnify the historic importance of the elections. The very same person who instigated the insurrection on January 6 was the person who affected the results of the Georgia Senate elections to his own detriment. He had sought to “find” votes which would have made him the winner of the state in the presidential election. He had sought to disqualify votes which would have had the same effect. The U.S. District Attorney would not comply with the request to do the latter and is now gone from his job. The Georgian Secretary of State did not comply with the request for the former. He still has his job. But he has had to spend some time in hiding and has been threatened over his re-election prospects. The Republican Governor similarly has been threatened. Undoubtedly these assaults within the Republican Party along with the claim that the voting system was rigged and could not be trusted contributed to the Democratic victories.
As a result of his self-inflicted wound, the Democrats now have control of the Senate. These two votes are not sufficient to ensure that the impeached instigator of the January 6 insurrection will be removed from office and prohibited from running in 2024. In fact, by the time the Senate votes to remove him from office, he already will be out of office and quite possibly facing criminal charges. Still, it will be quite an introduction to the Senate for the two Georgians.
BLACKS, JEWS, AND THE JANUARY 6 INSURRECTION
At first glance, one would have expected that the “Stop the Steal” rally would focus on the presidential election. Certainly the actions to reverse the results by having the electors from various states be disqualified were the major focus. However, the participants communicated interests that were not directly connected to the election. Instead they relate to concerns that predate even the 2016 election.
These images involve longstanding hatreds in the United States that will not disappear January 20, 2021.
One inadvertent benefit from the insurrection is that it flushed people out of the woodwork. Instead of white racists and anti-Semites restricting themselves to various websites, they appeared in open in the light of day clothed in their hatreds. Not only did they appear in public, they took selfies, posed for pictures, sent texts and emails and otherwise broadcasted their white racism and anti-Semitism. At first, it may have seemed like a lark to them. They occupied the Capitol and took souvenirs as if they had signed up for a tourist extravaganza. Now their pictures of them in the action of committing a crime are available to law enforcement organizations across the country. The people with the Confederate flags and the concentration camp T-shirts apparently never thought through the consequences of the public display of their white racism and anti-Semitism.
In these two actions on January 6, 2021, one may see two faces of America. One embraces the future, the other is scared of it. The Warnock/Ossoff elections represent an optimistic view of America’s future. The insurrection represents a fear of it. The Democrats do not have a monopoly on that future. They do not own it. It is possible the Party of Lincoln will abandon Trump and embrace the future as well. The vote in the House of Representatives in support of his effort to steal the election and the polls show a split party. The Trumpicans support the attempted coup as a great victory to be celebrated whereas the Republicans do not. At this point, it seems unlikely that the Lincoln Republicans can regain control of their Party. In that case, one can anticipate more elections like the Georgian Senate elections and more widespread violence. In other words, both aspects of January 6, 2021 will continue for better and for worse to be on display (see my comments in Grand Ol’ Prospects: Republicans abandoning Trump lick their wounds and plan their future by Leonard Greene, The Daily News, January 10, 2021).
Back in the 1960s when times were simpler, political thrillers were the rage. Two (fiction) books raised the topic of the end of the United States as we know it. These books were not about nuclear destruction like Failsafe and Dr. Strangelove, but were about homegrown threats: Americans acting to overthrow the government as Americans. The two books were:
Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey II (1962) Night of Camp David by Fletcher Knebel (1965).
Seven Days in May became a “major motion picture” with Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster, a screenplay by Rod Serling, and was directed by John Frankenheimer who had just directed The Manchurian Candidate (1962). Advise and Consent also had been released in 1962. Those years really a time of political thrillers and intrigue without the violence of White House Down.
Seven Days in May was the story of an attempted military coup by a brilliant and magnetic general. It seemed realistic. The book and movie weren’t that many years after the President Harry Truman/General Douglas MacArthur confrontation. Yet in the nearly 60 years since the book, there has been no such military coup or even threat of one. The one military figure calling for one today is no-integrity Mike Flynn who is not currently on active duty. He also is not secretive about his intentions.
The military seems quite prepared to remain out of politics. It deeply resented being exploited when the Commander in-chief dominated Lafayette Park. It deeply resented being called “my generals.” And it is scared about what the immature child in the body of a man with the emotional maturity of a three-year old who has no conscience, no morals, no ethics, and at best, a very limited and simple-minded knowledge and understanding of the world situation, might do. So unlike many countries throughout the world, We the People can rest easy that the military’s loyalty is to the Constitution and not to the individual who happens to be President.
What will the military do on January 6, 2021? First, how many heavily-armed right-wing militias will heed the call of the President to assemble at the nation’s capital? Second, what will they do when they get there? In part the answer to the second question depends on the answer to the first one. It is reasonable to conclude that the more heavily-armed right-wing militia who show up, the greater the chance of violence outside the Capitol where the elected officials will vote. Will they storm the building as they did the Michigan statehouse? Will there be violence inside the Capitol? Will any elected officials be shot? At this point there is no way to know. We will have to wait and see. What we do know is that if things do get out of hand, the military still cannot intervene to restore order since the Commander in-chief who can give that order is the one behind the violence.
A “Seven Days in May” scenario is not possible.
What about Night at Camp David? In that story, a lunatic president gives into to his own paranoia and conspiratorial fantasies. All around him the adults in the room struggle to prevent him going off the rails and acting on his worst impulses. The deranged President rants about the Deep State (to use the current term) political enemies and imaginary plots against him. He continually rails against Fake News (again to use the current term). It is easy to understand why Vintage re-released the book after the 2016 election. The question the publisher promoted was “What Would Happen if the President of the U.S.A. Went Stark Raving Mad?”
The question raised was not about the President’s ineptitude and incompetence as a manager. The same shortcomings that led to his becoming a serial failure in the business world were on the full display in 2020:
1. his failure to manage the testing for the coronavirus
2. his failure to manage the vaccine distribution
3. his failure to manage the COVID relief bill beyond having a last second hissy fit.
If all he were was incompetent and inept, then we should count our blessings that he didn’t wreak more havoc then he has so far. Fortunately, he lacks the mental necessities and cognitive skills to plan and execute anything as diabolical as in a political thriller.
As it turns out, he doesn’t need to. All these political thrillers involve people who are quite secretive about their motives and actions. The storylines are about the hero who uncovers the truth. He does so despite all the obstacles placed in his way. He then must overcome the shock of believing that a president or general in the United States could do what he seemed to be doing. The hero needs to overcome his disbelief that such people in power could launch a coup.
In the real world, no such duplicity is needed. In the real world with this President, everything is out in the open and on Twitter. He wants to be President for life. He lives in an alternate universe befitting the world of an immature child trying to function in the adult world. Which is a scarier prospect – that he actually believes what he is saying about the rigged election or that he knows he lost fair and square, can’t accept it, and will do everything he can not to become a loser and be removed power? I think after weeks of saying the election was rigged, that he is 2-0, and that he won in a landslide, we should credence to the idea that both he and his followers actually do believe all the bull trump. Trumpican elected officials amazingly cite the Trumpican voter concern that the election was rigged as proof that an investigation is needed to determine whether or not the election was rigged.
Previously, it was hard to imagine an open coup openly arrived at by an incumbent President to remain in power. After all, we are not a Trumphole country, are we? However, the Trump Traitors in the House and the Senate are quite open about their attempted coup. They state their intention publicly and proudly. They have done so for the record in a suit taken to the Supreme Court. They will do so for the record on January 6 or 7 depending on when the debate ends. They do so without any qualms, hesitations, or fears that the attempt to reverse the will of the people expressed in the election will led to repercussions. They think they have nothing to lose through this coup attempt and the scary thought is that they may be right.
The political thrillers from the 1960s got in all wrong. In the real world we have an open coup attempt. How violent the attempt remains to be seen. We won’t actually know until the heavily-armed right wing militias show up January 6 and see what they do.
We also don’t know what will happen after the attempted coup fails. The traitors will remain in office without any penalty. The instigator of the failed coup will remain in office for another two weeks. For now, in his own alternate-reality mind, he can still believe the coup might work. After January 7, it will finally start to sink in that his departure from the White House really is going to happen. For the rest of his life, he will believe the lie that he really won because he needs to believe for his own mental health. But he will know finally on January 7, once and for all, that his days are numbered and the number is small. It will be time to start packing for who knows where. The countdown in days, hours, and minutes until he is gone will be displayed for him to see. The Night of Camp David is about a President who loses his mind. Somewhere between January 7 and January 20 that could happen with no adults in the room to stop him and no one to invoke in the 25th Amendment.
Note: This blog was written on Saturday prior to the criminal phone call by the President of the United States to Georgia and prior to the release of the statement from all 10 living former US defense secretaries. Obviously a followup blog is required.
“White House Down” is a movie about a physical assault on America.
“Tantrum Trump” is about a political and social media assault on America that could become a physical assault on January 6, 2021.
“White House Down” had people who rose to the occasion and became heroes.
“Tantrum Trump” has no profiles in courage, no heroes, no Howard Bakers. The Sore Loser is acting to cement his legacy as the biggest baby in American history, a whining, weenie with no morals, no ethics, and no conscience, who has no objection to destroying the United States even without being actually on the Putin payroll.
Despite this, what’s left of the Republican Party will not act to stop him.
All the way back in October 2019, I wrote a blog Will Mike Pence Become a Profile in Courage? My conclusion then as now is NO!!!!!!!!!!! No matter what he will never invoke the 25th Amendment. He will certify the election of Joe Biden on January 6. But he will do nothing to prevent the savage chaos which will engulf the United States during the last four weeks of his term in office.
Back in June 2020, I wrote a blog Mitch McConnell: Howard Baker (Time to Go) vs Stay the Course (Go Down with the Ship). My conclusion then was that he would stay the course even if it meant going down with the ship. That did not happen on Election Day but it could happen on January 5. Still he will not rise to the occasion no matter what harm the Sore Loser inflicts on the country, the Republican Party, or the Republican Senate Majority.
Remember the talk about his creating an alternate TV network (or show)? What he is really doing is creating an alternate party. He has always been a Trumpican first, last, and only. Now he is not only unhinged, he is unleashed. He sees January 6, 2021, looming before him. He knows the Democrats will support the election of Biden. He knows the Republicans will support the election of Biden. He knows he needs to make sure the number of Republicans left in Congress are too few to override the Trumpicans. He needs Vice President Brown Nose to continue to be for him what he is to Putin.
At long last, some Republicans are finally seeing that the long-time-Democrat-and-Clinton-supporter doesn’t care about the Republican Party. It was only a vehicle which he could hijack for his own needs as he was unable to do with the Democratic Party. His exultation of the loss of Republican Mia Love in the 2018 elections was simply a prelude to what is occurring now. Tom Friedman asks “Will Trump Force Principled Conservatives to Start Their Own Party?” (NYT 12/23/20 print). His answer was, “I Hope So.” Friedman thinks at some point, “some Republicans will say ‘enough.’” He wrote that before “Krakatoa, East of Java” on the night of 12/23. It still isn’t enough.
We are facing the extraordinary situation of a sitting President openly attacking his “own” party. He is actively undermining his own party. He is doing this now even before he leaves office and relocates to Mar-a-Lago where he can’t legally live anyway. His desire for revenge against still-Senate-Majority-Leader Mitch McConnell trumps any concern for the Georgia Senate elections. He couldn’t care less about those Republican incumbents having to explain why they supported a disgraceful bill. He couldn’t care less about those Republican incumbents having to explain why they oppose a $2000 relief check. He couldn’t care less if those Republican incumbents lose. In fact, when he had his hissy fit, he never even thought about them.
His throwing the Republicans under the bus has produced strange moments in American history. Consider the situation of his chief of staff. A lifetime ago in October, I wrote:
When Marked Down was appointed Chief of Staff, I was very happy. “Why?” you might wonder. In the House of Representatives, Marked Down was one of the fiercest Trumpicans. He was loyal to core. For him, Russia and the Ukraine were hoaxes. He attacked Fake News. He was one of the chief Flying Monkeys defending the Wicked Witch of the White House from any and all witch hunters in any and all witch hunts.
Now he is in meetings with criminals, traitors, and nutcases talking about martial law. If there is one thing Confederates prize above all else it’s the sending of Federal troops into states to seize stuff. It’s like a dream come true for every Confederate and right-wing militia.
Speaking of right-wing militia’s, their moment of truth will soon be upon us. They have been called to action. They have been called to Washington, DC. They have been called to “Stop the Steal.” Back in September, I wrote the blog Will the Militias March on Washington November 4? Obviously I was wrong on the date. I was not thinking about January 6 or all the post-election actions which have transpired. So while the question raised has been answered in an immediate sense, the true issue raised in the blog about the actions the private militias will take has not.
What will they do when all the legal maneuvering comes to an end? For months they incessantly heard about a rigged election. They have heard about the end of the world as they know it if their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name, is removed from office. They have seen it on Twitter. They have seen it on Foxhub and other stations. Now the moment of truth has arrived. The clarion call of Sarah Palin to take back the country rings true. Now is the moment. Now is time to act. If not now, when?
Suppose a few hundred armed militia decide to march on Washington. What will the response be?
Suppose a few thousand armed militia decide to march on Washington. What will the response be?
Suppose 250,000 armed militia with motorcycles and trailers packed with provisions pour forth in caravans from around the country and descend on Washington as they did in South Dakota. What will the response be?
Suppose there is a million man march in support of the one person who can save the country. What will the response be?
I have no idea. Who even has the authority to stop an insurrection led by the Commander in Chief? The local police forces could be overwhelmed. Who could stop the private militias from entering the Capitol? The previous actions in the Michigan statehouse are small-scale compared to what potentially could occur. I don’t even begin to know how you map out a defense against caravans of heavily armed private militias descending on Washington especially if they are violating no laws in traveling there. Oh, you say, they don’t have a parade permit as if that would stop thousands of people bent on saving their Savior.
At this point, no one knows what will happen. We don’t know how many will show up? We don’t know what the impact will be on Representatives and Senators trying to reach the Capitol amidst maybe thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands heavily armed private militias screaming “Stop the Steal! We know where you live.” There is a lot of uncertainty still with two weeks to go and four weeks to go. It’s hard to imagine the situation not getting meaner, uglier, and deadlier as the Sore Loser becomes more and more desperate, more and more unhinged, more and more unchecked since there are no profiles in courage in the Republican Party and no one will rise to the occasion.
P.S. Finally, there is the burning question all Americans are asking: When will Rudy get his Christmas pardon?