I’ve been thinking a lot about the storming of the U.S. Capital on Wednesday. Most of my “thinking about it” has been reading various pundits.
There has been a firehose of information. I don’t want to add to it unduly. So I’ve curated some of the very best I’ve seen.
Scary, scary datapoints I don’t think have been emphasized enough:
[A]s a YouGov poll conducted on Wednesday made clear, roughly 45 percent of Republican voters approved of what happened in Washington [Wednesday] afternoon.
Damon Linker, The bloody power of symbolic gestures
I don’t know how reliable quicky YouGov polls are, but this is scary, and consistent with this:
77 percent of Trump’s voters—77 percent—say he was the rightful winner and that the election was stolen from him.
I don’t think that most of the people in the mainstream of American culture, who have viewed this week with horror, have any idea what they’re up against.
“If our capable floor staff hadn’t grabbed them [the electoral college ballots rescued from the Senate floor], they would have been burned by the mob,” -
Senator Jeff Merkley, tweeting a photo of the ballot chests.
Republicans who object to the count will have to take the wild theorizing of Sidney Powell, the insane rants of Rudy Giuliani more seriously than they take official certifications of officials at every level in the six contested states. They will have to ignore the rulings of more than 60 courts. And they will use the bogus deceptions as the basis for throwing out the votes of tens of millions of Americans.
Charlie Sykes, I Wanted to Scream
Written before the notorious Wednesday events:
Trump is trying to set Pence up as a scapegoat for his own loss.
What is MAGA Nation going to do now? How is it going to avoid blaming Trump for costing the Republicans the Senate? I don’t know, but I am confident that they’ll find a way, probably involving faulting Mitt Romney and David French. Though the Trump era ends with a Democrat in the White House, and Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, one must never forget that Trump cannot fail; he can only be failed.
I’m skipping what I gathered on Thursday because I disgorged it all here.
True conservatives tend to have a particular understanding of the fragility of things. They understand that every human institution is, in its way, built on sand. It’s all so frail. They see how thin the veil is between civilization and chaos, and understand that we have to go through every day, each in our way, trying to make the veil thicker. And so we value the things in the phrase that others use to disparage us, “law and order.” Yes, always, the rule of law, and order so that the people of a great nation can move freely on the streets and do their work and pursue their lives.
To the devil’s apprentices, Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. They are clever men, highly educated, well-credentialed, endlessly articulate. They see themselves as leading conservative lights, but in this drama they have proved themselves punks practicing punk politics …
They backed a lie and held out the chimera of some possible Trump victory that couldn’t happen, and hid behind the pretense that they were just trying to be fair to all parties and investigate any suspicions of vote fraud, when what they were really doing was playing—coolly, with lawyerly sophistication—not to the base but to the sickness within the base. They should have stood up and told the truth, that democracy moves forward, that the election was imperfect as all elections are, and more so because of the pandemic rules, which need to be changed, but the fact is the voters of America chose Biden-Harris, not Trump-Pence.
Here’s to you, boys. Did you see the broken glass, the crowd roaming the halls like vandals in late Rome, the staff cowering in locked closets and barricading offices? Look on your mighty works and despair.
The price they will pay is up to their states. But the reputational cost should be harsh and high.
Bring the Insurrectionists to Justice – Peggy Noonan (emphasis added)
Noonan also calls for fast-track impeachment of Trump, resorting (uncharacteristically) to a reductio ad Hitlerum of Trump in his bunker, watching OAN and NewsMax, and seething with resentment about how America - damn them! - has failed him.
Before there was a single moment of violence [Wednesday], we were already in unprecedented territory: an outgoing president addressing his most deranged fans, continuing to insist that he had won an election that he had in fact lost by a significant margin (306 votes constituted a ‘landslide’ in 2016, according to the man himself), riling them up in a way that almost certainly led directly to what followed.
Yesterday was also about resentment in its rawest, least focused form. … [T]hese feelings have manifested, in Trumpism, more as a general confused populist lashing-out and desire for a heroic figure than as the embrace of any specific politics or policies per se … [T]heir political commitments start and stop at listening to Trump say mean things about the things they dislike and nice things about the things they like. They like Trump because he gives voice to their fuzzy resentments, fuzzily.
Mere minutes after the motley crew of Proud Boys, militia members, and other MAGA faithful were evicted from the Capitol Wednesday, a false narrative had already begun going viral among Trump supporters on social media. The people who stormed police barricades by force at the Capitol, the story ran, had actually been Antifa interlopers posing as supporters of the president.
Never mind that the crowd had come to D.C. and marched to Congress at Trump’s explicit request; never mind that some of those filmed trashing the place were well-known alt-right personalities; never mind that others interviewed inside were perfectly chatty about who they were and why they were there; never mind that the only “evidence” provided for this theory was a couple screenshots of misidentified faces and tattoos. Boosted by credulous and sloppy right-wing web media, loose-cannon MAGA celebrities, Fox News hosts “just asking questions,” and even members of Congress, the theory that the Capitol insurrection had been instigated by false-flag leftists almost immediately took over the pro-Trump internet.
Startlingly, even Trump supporters who had been physically present at the riot—who had personally stepped across crumpled barricades, pushed through smoke and tear gas over the Capitol lawn and onto the steps of the building itself, and seen the breach with their own eyes—had come around to this narrative by the following day. On Thursday, your Morning Dispatchers interviewed more than a dozen who had returned to the National Mall for a second consecutive day. Nearly all insisted—without any prompting—that the only people who had been truly violent the day before had been covert Antifa operators.
“The whole thing was set up,” said one South Carolina woman who declined to give her name. “They wanted the people to get pumped up and do that. … The picture of the guy sitting on Pelosi’s desk or whatever? I guarantee you he was working for Antifa—or whoever it is, whatever organization.” (It was, in fact, Richard Barnett from Gravette, Arkansas. The FBI reportedly visited his house yesterday.)
“There was, you know, a window was broken,” said Christian, a protester who had driven up from Texas earlier this week and said he had witnessed the break-in but not entered the Capitol himself. “Some people were kind of doing it—either they were overzealous or there were some agitators within. It looks like some people have identified a few likely Antifa members based on their tattoos and stuff … For the people who were genuine Trump supporters, which there probably were a few, I don’t know if they were the first in—maybe they just tagged along.”
Sarah Isgur and David French note that the “patriots” who invaded the Capitol Building were trying to take down American flags and replace them with Trump flags.
What more do you need to know that “patriot” is a delusional claim.
Never has vindication tasted so bitter.
David French, an original Never-Trumper. He might have said “felt so hollow” or something like that. It was a podcast and I’m not going to try to ferret out his ipsissima verba.
Josh Hawley is lying about Simon & Schuster assaulting the first amendment. Soon, it will be newsworthy if Hawley lets a day go by without shamelessly lying.
Trump is now and always has been delusional. He lives in an imaginary world. His insistence that he won the last election in a “landslide” is psychologically indistinguishable from his declaration on his first day that his Inaugural crowd was larger than his predecessor’s. For four years, the actual evidence did not matter. It still doesn’t. Any rumor that helps him, however ludicrous, is true; every cold fact that hurts him, however trivial or banal, doesn’t exist. For four years as president, any advisor who told him the truth, rather than perpetuating his delusions, had an immediate expiration date. For four years, an army of volunteer propagandists knowingly disseminated his insane, cascading torrent of lies.
And Trump really believes these fantasies. He is not a calculating man. He is a creature of total impulse. As I wrote almost five years ago now, quoting Plato, a tyrant is a man “not having control of himself [who] attempts to rule others”; a man flooded with fear and love and passion, while having little or no ability to restrain or moderate them; a “real slave to the greatest fawning,” a man who “throughout his entire life … is full of fear, overflowing with convulsions and pains.” For the ancients, a tyrant represented the human whose appetites and fantasies had no form of rational control.
Quotes For The Week
“After this [rally], we’re going to walk down [to the Capitol] and I’ll be there with you. … We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of [the senators] because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong,” - insurrectionist leader Donald J. Trump, just before the violent assault on the Capitol.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done,” - Trump.
“Media: quit labeling DC protestors ‘Conservatives, Republicans, Tea Partiers, Trump Supporters, etc’ LOOK IN TO WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE who’d choose an apparent leaderless insane swarm to create a perception of condoned violence. KNOCK IT OFF. And to any insincere, fake DC ‘patriots’ used as PLANTS — you will be found out,” - 2008 veep nominee Sarah Palin, implying that the deadly attempted coup at the Capitol was a false flag operation.
“Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence,” - Nikole Hannah-Jones, on the rioting and looting this past summer.
“What’s the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time?”- a senior Republican official quoted in the WaPo on November 9, two months before the deadly attempted coup at the Capitol.
This Is The Face Of The GOP Now - The Weekly Dish (emphasis added)
“People were willing to die for this man and he just threw them all under the bus. That’s the only thing that’s shameful about the events of the past 36 hours,” Nick Fuentes, the host of the America First podcast and the unofficial leader of the white nationalist Groyper Army, angrily tweeted, shortly after Trump released a video Thursday night in which he conceded that Biden would be the next president and called for political reconciliation.
Cassandra Fairbanks, a prominent MAGA activist, tweeted: “[He] tells angry people to march to the capitol [and then] proceeds to throw his supporters under the bus.”