Does it Cause a Shift?
The first in a series of 1/6 Committee hearings prompts questions, some fresh and some ongoing
As we wrap up the week in the wake of a riveting Thursday night of opening remarks, video teasers and testimony, let’s chew on several thoughts drawn from this first in a series of prime time public hearings held by the House January 6th Committee …
The big question here: Did this first and very dramatic debut of the 1/6 Committee’s vault of evidence change the political and legal landscape in 2022? Was there enough evidence to convince Attorney General Merrick Garland that, yes, he can move faster than he’s been and to stop acting like he’s got time … or he’ll get chances at this in the event Republicans re-take Congress this year? Is the American public convinced enough that a real attack on their government took place and that not only should Trump be held accountable through 1) prosecution and 2) disqualification from any future run for office, but that Republicans across the board should be punished electorally and rejected enough at the polls to keep them from running things?
Can Americans, after watching this, juggle two things at once: Broad gas and consumer good price-gouging … oh, sorry, that’s right, you want to keep calling it “inflation” and holding those responsible for 1/6 accountable? If the history of Watergate is an indicator, perhaps they can …To all the folks saying “nobody cares about Jan. 6, they just care about inflation,” the inflation rate in 1974 was upwards of 11% - nearly double over the year before. Yet somehow people were able to worry about that and hold the president accountable at the same time.
… despite the rather cynical and unhelpful popular view - which is, really, just a Republican counter talking point - that Americans are more concerned, selfishly, about sticker shock than they are about what gives us all the luxury of even being in a position to gripe about it and do something about it: Democracy.
Overall, it’s obvious quite a bit of thinking went into the the optical stage craft of this event. It needed to drop with quite a bit of weight and legitimacy. Opening speeches from the Democratic Chair and Ranking Republican were supported heavily by a collage of videos and revealing tweets and text messages.
In addition, these opening statements may have forced the public to feel more comfortable - albeit shaken - with using the word “coup” to describe what transpired on January 6, 2021.
It’s the never-before-seen video footage of that attack that was the most jarring and quite significant piece of evidence of Thursday evening. What strikes us is how even before the invading legions of “insurrectionists” reached the Capitol, we’re seeing people who are clearly dressed for a confrontation or some form of combat. Most are wearing heavy duty work clothes and boots at minimum, but many are wearing military fatigues, carrying helmets, camouflage wear and other key pieces of military-style apparel. If it’s just a “gathering” or just a “riot,” why get so geared up? It’s obvious what was to happen next.
No one wants to ask because latitude and deference are being given to the Capitol Police officers on the scene, and we get that. But, someone needs to ask: why exactly didn’t the officers fire on the attacking “mob” if we’re seeing that their lives were clearly endangered? That’s a big question. Why wasn’t lethal or armed force used on this crowd? Who was giving the order to not kill? We’re pretty certain if there was a surge of Black protesters bursting through the Capitol, shots would have been fired.
The testimony of Capitol Hill police officer Caroline Edwards is clever play by the Committee: Pick a women, who is also White, and have her testify in gripping descriptions what happened and how horrible it was. Clearly, she’s being used to great optical effect and, at least from the dynamics of what we saw in the hearing room and on social media, it could be working.
Does this feels like another tipping point in the 2022 election? Is this similar to another bizarre tipping point in 2020? The unseen video feels like that moment in the aftermarth of Kyle Rittenhouse murdering protesters in Kenosha, WI. That seemed to frighten many White voters and independents who otherwise didn’t plan on voting for Biden. The Rittenhouse scene was one that was brutally impolite and dangerous. Most White voters might harbor some form of racism or bigoted edge, but they certainly don’t like the type of uncontrollable Pandora’s Box unstable they saw unleashed on January 6th.
What’s painfully obvious, at least to us: Unadulterated white terroristic violence was unleashed on the Seat of Government as a direct result of white supremacists and white supremacist followers being angrily triggered by the strategic dominance of Black voters in 2020 in states like Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. That pissed off not only Trump, even after all the effort and energy that went into election administration and mail ballot subversion, but it enraged most rank and file White Republicans.
Can Congressional Democrats connect this damning evidence to the entire Republican Party, too? Or will they be so naively caught up in fleeting moments of “bipartisanship” with a few “sensible” Republicans like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) that they’ll focus mostly on holding Trump accountable and not the Party that is positioning itself to retake government in 2022, along with state legislative, gubernatorial and Secretary of State seats, to ensure there is no 2024 election? Why would we want a party that staged a coup against a legitimate election retaking the government in the next election?
(Fun fact we should mention: both the Chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) voted against the Voting Rights Advancement Act. There’s that … but, everyone else will say it’s not relevant. Yeah, well, it bothers us).