Patriots Day

Nine takes on Day One of the 1/6 Hearings

Some initial takeaways from the first day of hearings by the January 6 Committee:

1. This was as close to a “have you no shame” moment as we are likely to see in Washington these days.

"The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful!" [Officer Michael] Fanone shouted as he pounded the witness table. "Nothing, truly nothing has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day. And in doing so betray their oath of office."

Unfortunately, the folks who most needed to be shamed were not there or not watching.

2. Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day for the denialists and the Republicans who have been working to memory-hole the Insurrection.

January 6 was not a "normal tourist visit." It was not a “loving crowd.”

"On Jan. 6, for the first time,” testified Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, “I was more afraid working at the Capitol than during my entire Army deployment to Iraq. In Iraq, we expected armed violence, because we were in a war zone. But nothing in my experience in the Army, or as a law enforcement officer, prepared me for what we confronted on Jan. 6.”

We had heard some of the stories before. But this felt different, and it may have been new to some viewers. Even Fox News carried it. For many viewers, the events of the day came flooding back.

3. No, removing members of the Sedition Caucus was not a “gift” to Kevin McCarthy. Nancy Pelosi vetoed a shitshow, and so we got an actual congressional hearing.

Yesterday’s news cycle yesterday was dominated by Republicans, but, unfortunately for the GOP leader, they were Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

And the split screen was awful for the Trump/McCarthy wing of the party. Here’s Cheney:

And here is Elise Stefanik, who keeps probing for the bottom.

4. As expected, Trump is pissed that there was no one there to defend him or throw merde at the witnesses.

5. The hearing helped smoke out the sedition fanboys. A reminder who some of them were:

6. The fraudulence of the “back the blue” right was exposed.

So much for respect for law enforcement, or “blue lives matter.” The men who testified Tuesday were heroes by almost any recognizable definition. But the Trumpist media reacted with mockery.

And of course, there was the thoroughly deplorable Julie Kelly:


7. Are we still going to pretend we don’t have a problem with racism? Police Officer Harry Dunn testified:

That prompted a torrent of racial epithets. One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled: 'Did you hear that, guys? This n----- voted for Joe Biden.' Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 people, joined in screaming, 'Booo, f------ n-----.'

"No one had ever, ever called me a n----- while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer," Dunn continued, adding that after the riot he heard from other Black officers who faced racial abuse from the mob. "One officer told me he had never, in his 40 years of life, had been called a n----- to his face, and that streak ended on January 6th. Yet another Black officer later told me he had been confronted by insurrectionists in the Capitol who told him to 'put your gun down, and we'll show you what kind of n----- you really are.'"

8. We need some clarity about the meaning of “patriotism.”

A flag that is used used to beat police officers during an attempt to violently overthrow our democracy is not a symbol of “patriotism”. We need a different word.

9. The question of the day was offered by Officer Dunn:

"If a hitman is hired, and he kills somebody, the hitman goes to jail. But not only does the hitman go to jail, the person who hired them does," Dunn said. "There was an attack carried out on January 6th and a hitman sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that."

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We’re back — tomorrow night, for our Thursday Night Bulwark Livestream:

Quick Hits

1. Cheney and Kinzinger Are Too Late

Mona Charen writes that it’s great that the Republicans on the January 6th Committee have seen the truth. But what did the delay cost?

Both Cheney and Kinzinger voted against the first Trump impeachment. They stuck with their support for his re-election despite the first debate with Biden, despite the catastrophic handling of COVID-19, despite Trump’s green light to China’s Uighur camps, despite QAnon, and despite the avalanche of lies and cruelty that corrupted America’s soul—and prepared the ground for the violent insurrection they are now investigating.

Is it welcome that they finally found a line they couldn’t cross? A thousand times, yes. But how might this story have unfolded differently if they, and thousands of other Republicans, had found their uncrossable lines sooner?

2. Simone Biles Isn’t Fearless. That’s A Good Thing.

Hannah Yoest writes in today’s Bulwark that by demanding robotic perfection, Biles’s detractors are denying her humanity.

Most well-adjusted people recognize Biles as the indisputable GOAT—greatest of all time—in gymnastics: She is a 5-time World Champion, and the most decorated gymnast—male or female—of all time, with 25 World medals, 19 of which are gold. In the 2016 Summer Olympics she won 4 individual gold medals. She hasn’t lost an all-around competition in eight years.

These achievements do not satisfy Athey, though, who vacillates from being stunned someone of Biles’s caliber could be so mentally unfocused it jeopardized her performance to then detailing the trouble Biles had during the qualifying rounds and concluding, “Is it all that surprising that someone this overconfident—some might say arrogant—would struggle to mentally rebound from a poor performance?” Which is it? Is Biles so superhuman that any flaw is alarming or is she so conceited and overhyped it’s foreseeable she would fail in the face of adversity? To demand robotic perfection is to deny humanity.

3. What the Jan. 6 Committee Could Mean for Trump

Brian Karem, in today’s Bulwark:

Tuesday’s hearing showed that whatever happens, it will go badly for Trump. He’s in the crosshairs. He incited the riot. And, as Raskin said, the police officers fought to hold the line on January 6—and now Congress must hold the line.

If these hearings are effective, they could mark the beginning of the end for Trump as an effective actor or credible candidate on the national stage.

If he does not run again, historians will have a variety of theories to explain why.

But it may just be that four working-class cops—the kind he claims to love—will get the credit for driving a stake through his heart.

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Cheap Shots

Kristol on Kirk.