Democrats’ Jan. 6 hearing theater bares evil at heart of the Capitol riot


Donald Trump will never testify before Congress’s Jan. 6 committee, subpoena or no subpoena. He will resist it and will challenge any such subpoena in the courts — for a couple of months.

Since the overwhelming likelihood is that Republicans will win control of the House in November, in one way or another, the subpoena will probably be quashed come January 2023.

So the highly theatrical decision of the committee to vote (with a full roll call, like in “1776” when they sign the Declaration of Independence) to compel the former president’s testimony was just that: theater.

And some of my fellow conservatives are upset.

“I felt manipulated,” veteran Republican speechwriter Marc Thiessen said right after the nationally televised Jan. 6 hearing was over.

Now wait a minute. What’s so wrong with theater? Presidential speeches are theater, after all. (Trust me, I know; I was a presidential speechwriter, same as Thiessen.) And the best of them are theatrical pieces of dramatic rhetorical construction deliberately designed to provoke an emotional response.

In other words, they’re “manipulative.”

Also, complaining that Trump might be a victim of “theater” is pretty rich. His entire presidency was theater, and his supporters loved every minute of it.

Many have called it performative and believe it will not likely lead to anything.
The Jan. 6 investigation has been labeled as “theater” by critics.
AP

The complaint usually hurled in the committee’s direction is that while the task of trying to establish the facts that led to the repugnant attack on the Capitol and the events of that day itself might be worthy, the staged effort to nail Donald Trump for it in heavily produced two-hour events has somehow distorted the effort.

There’s some truth to the charge that they’ve been blinded by their own Javertian agenda.

A peculiar sequence in Thursday’s hearing featured an account of Trump using a few MAGA punks in the White House to semi-order a full pullout of American troops from Somalia and Afghanistan by Jan. 15, 2021.

That’s pretty stunning, given the catastrophe that befell America when Joe Biden did the Afghan withdrawal in August 2021. But the reason the committee focused on it was really weird.

They wanted it there to demonstrate that in mid-November Trump knew he had lost the election — a key element in their conceptual indictment of him, because that would suggest his behavior was knowingly corrupt rather than bat-guano crazy. Otherwise why would he want these pullouts to happen just five days before the inauguration?

That detail is a smoking gun about Trump’s foolishness (comparable to Biden’s foolishness), but not about his state of mind or his ideas about the election being stolen.

Many of the rioters believed that Trump had won the election.
The committee focused on showing that Trump knew he lost the 2020 election.
AP

And in the end, that’s not going to matter. Trump is far more in danger from his handling of classified information than he is for an effort to explore his deepest “state of mind.”

Though they will not come to any more than they already have, the Jan. 6 hearings have been valuable, despite the effort by some on the right to circle the wagons around Trump.

They remind us of the evil of that day and a very simple fact that cannot be denied: Donald Trump wanted to unleash hell, and then he watched on TV and said nothing while hell was unleashed for his benefit.



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