A quick glimpse through the michaelaba.com blog entries lets me know there hasn’t really been a good rant by me on the state of politics in our country since Christmas.
Well - this feels like as good a time as any to end this 7-month streak…
I’ve personally found the televised hearings by the Jan 6th Committee to be close to perfect. I’d suspected they might have gone for a block-by-block strategy, meaning we would review everything leading up to that day with one of the later hearings revealing how the attempted insurrection had crucial involvement at the highest levels. But no - this committee went directly after the former president right from the start. There has been no subtlety here.
And the supporting evidence has been damning and precise.
Most of us remember the joy we’d felt when Joe Biden was declared the newly-elected President-to-be, but the ensuing lack of public activity from the residing leader may have slipped our minds. After a foreseeable spell of whining and obstinance was over, the then-president seemed to disappear into his White House lair. Perhaps we had hoped he was simply preparing himself for a well-earned slide back into social irrelevance.
But no. In actuality, this became the hardest-working two months of this man’s entire presidential career. As revealed in these hearings, his imprint was all over several different wacky plans to overturn the election. Maybe Georgia could magically produce the necessary votes he needed. “Alternative legislators” would perhaps allow Congress to be seduced with “alternative facts”. Dominion voting machines could be seized. The Justice Department should declare the existence of fraud, despite not having detected a shred of evidence so far. The Vice-President could be swayed into not doing his constitutional duty when the moment came to ceremonially certify the electoral college votes. And, of course, if all else failed, an enraged mob could find a way on January 6 to prevent all of Congress from finishing its job.
Though I remember that day well and have paid attention to the story ever since, I don’t believe I was aware at the time how close this all came to actually succeeding far beyond anyone’s imagination. Perhaps there is something completely American about the idea of a true civil war originating in clear view on our television screens. But what happens when so many disparate militias are allowed to rise up when the real provocateur is the actual president? Thankfully we never received a full answer to this question this time around. But what is clear now is that the outcome could have easily been far different.
Around Thanksgiving of last year, I wrote how things for me were starting to come full-circle; I’d watched “Let it Be” by the Beatles back in 1970 and was now watching a newer (and vastly improved) version here in 2021. And I’m feeling the same way today. I was fascinated as a young boy by the televised Watergate Hearings and now find myself glued to the television screen whenever a new Jan 6th Hearing is appearing live. Lady Justice ultimately prevailed back in 1973. Let’s pray to the heavens she’ll find a way to win again now.
John Dean was the hero who captured the nation’s attention back then. And this time around, a 26 year old office assistant is the person showing us in real time what courage and integrity looks like. Cassidy Hutchinson sat alone and under oath answered every question the elderly bureaucrats above her have been trying to cover up for so long. When this is all over, I predict she will have earned the same historical appreciation now justifiably afforded to Mr. Dean. She reminds us how truth and honesty can compete against and perhaps even conquer ill-will and deceit. At times, her disarming eloquence and flawless memory felt almost astonishing.
Other heroes have emerged as well. Every person on that Committee has done an outstanding job, with a special nod going to the two Republican members, Adam Kinzinger and - yes, believe it or not - Wyoming’s own Liz Cheney. And for this former Watergate buff, chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi has been bringing back fond recollections of an old favorite, Sam Ervin of North Carolina. This has been an amazing time to become a fascinated spectator once again.
We don’t know where this will all end, but after eight televised hearings (with more to come in September!), my wish is for the political discourse in this country to change course and find a way to readjust. This may seem like a pie-in-the-sky sentiment at the moment, but this writer is old enough to remember the evolution of our society after Watergate. These changes were small, to be sure, but for a moment, truth was thought to be a vastly more patriotic virtue than lies.
Oh - and I’m certainly hoping Merrick Garland and the United States Justice Department have been paying close attention to these hearings as well. There is a certain ex-president who should be forced to answer questions in a court of law someday.