WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2022
A chance to rethink how we got here: Yesterday afternoon, it happened again.
In truth, it seems to happen with great regularity now. Yesterday, "The appearance of a new arrival on the front...became the topic of general conversation" and rerouted the discourse again.
(See Chekhov, Lady with Lapdog.)
Yesterday, the new arrival on the front was former Mark Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson, a remarkably composed young woman who is either 25 or 26, depending on whether you read the Washington Post or the New York Times.
According to the Post, Hutchinson was only 23 in early December 2020 when the chain of events in question started. Here's the way Kranish et al. begin this morning's profile:
KRANISH ET AL (6/29/22): Cassidy Hutchinson was about to turn 24, already a key official at the White House after a meteoric ascent from obscurity, when she heard a startling noise. It was early December 2020, and President Donald Trump was livid because his attorney general said the election had not been stolen.
Upon investigating the noise, Hutchinson was told by a White House valet that Trump had thrown a porcelain plate against the dining room wall, which was now dripping ketchup. Hutchinson grabbed a towel to wipe up the mess as the valet told her to steer clear of the president because “he’s really, really ticked off about this right now.”
Kranish started with the ketchup—and with the claim that Hutchinson was 23 at the time. Later, the Post's profile explicitly says that she's "now 25."
In the New York Times' corresponding profile, Maggie Haberman says that Hutchinson is "now 26." No, it doesn't matter—but Hutchinson is such a new arrival that our nation's major newspapers can't even agree on her age.
That said, Hutchinson was remarkably calm and composed as she offered yesterday's testimony—some of which was based on her first-hand experience, some of which was not.
A startling array of major journalists have commingled the two types of testimony, failing to make the distinction explicit. That isn't Hutchinson's doing or fault. It's simply the way our journalists may tend to behave as they start composing our novels.
At this point, we'll offer a personal reaction to Hutchinson's testimony. We were greatly impressed, as we sometimes are, to see the way some people who are so young will sometimes emerge with so much capability and with so much composure.
As we watched, we thought of Kaitlin Collins, CNN's chief White House reporter.
Collins had just turned 25 when she was hired by CNN. She had a very slender (and unimpressive) journalistic resume.
We assumed that this might be a fairly standard type of TV hire, with telegenicity being one of the major criteria in the hiring decision.
We were surprised and impressed by what followed. For our money, Collins emerged during 2020 as one of the only White House correspondents prepared to act like an actual journalist in the face of the manifest lunacy of Donald J. Trump's daily hour-plus monologues about the Covid pandemic.
At that time, we were grateful for the chance to see someone push back as she did. We're still impressed by Collins' self-confidence every time we see her on CNN.
We're impressed by her confidence and grateful for her presence. We thought of Collins as we watched the preternaturally composed Hutchinson testifying before the world at probably age 25.
By this morning, Hutchinson' testimony has become the stuff of emerging press corps novels on such programs as Morning Joe. That isn't Hutchinson's doing or fault. It's the doing of more established people—the kinds of people who novelize news in much the way other folks breathe.
We know of no reason to doubt a single word Hutchinson said. Indeed, former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney quickly posted a tweet vouching for her honesty.
That doesn't mean that her every recollection is perfectly accurate. More significant, perhaps, is this:
The mental disorder of Donald J. Trump has long been quite apparent. On Morning Joe, our tribe's novelists complain about the various things people like Meadows refuse to say—but they themselves have persistently refused to say that throughout the past seven years.
(We'll return to this seminal topic in this afternoon's post.)
Did Donald J. Trump want to go to the House on January 6 and participate in shooting and killing House members from the gallery, as Michael Beschloss explicitly said on today's Morning Joe?
We don't have the slightest idea. Needless to say, Hutchinson never said anything like that.
We don't know if Donald J. Trump had some such picture in his head when he allegedly grabbed the steering wheel of his limousine and tried to go to the Capitol. That said, it isn't impossible that he had some such crazy thought in mind, though Beschloss was simply forging a novel when he excitingly treated this as some sort of established fact.
As Beschloss shouted out his novel, Joe and Mika just sat around; Willie also said nothing. Meanwhile, Hutchinson was being hailed as a "hero" on the show. Assuming her basic testimony holds up, we don't necessarily disagree with that.
Hutchinson is, and was, extremely impressive. But people! Right through December 2020, she was also a Trump supporter!
Hutchinson was, and possibly still is, a conservative Republican. She had interned for Scalise and Cruz before signing on at the Trump White House, then getting hired by Meadows.
According to this 2018 profile, she'd started at the Trump White House hoping to make "my small contribution to the quest to maintain American prosperity and excellence." Imaginably, this fact could help us think about one of the ways our blue tribe got saddled with last Friday's horrendous political defeat.
Hutchinson is quite impressive—and she supported Trump. The same can be said of The Justice Department 3—Rosen, Donoghue and Engel, three plainly competent, intelligent men who talked Trump out of a very bad idea in the last few days before January 6.
Rosen, Donoghue and Engel testified before the January 6 committee on June 23. All three seemed highly competent and quite straightforward—and until his post-election meltdown, all three had supported Trump.
Last Friday morning, a very different "new arrival" hijacked the national discourse. We refer to the Supreme Court decision in which, according to the New York Times, a five-member majority voted 6-3 to overturn Roe v. Wade.
That was an enormous political defeat for our own blue tribe. Two days later, the Times published a very unusual profile of the conservative political groups which had worked, for many years, to hand us that defeat.
How had we managed to get to that place? Also, how could our self-impressed blue tribe possibly improve our game?
We'll suggest that a hint might be found in Cassidy Hutchinson's brilliant performance at yesterday afternoon's hearing. Also, in that unusual profile by the Times, to which we'll turn tomorrow.
At this site, we're grateful for Kaitlan Collins' work every time she appears. For the record, her slender journalistic resume before arriving at CNN was created at The Daily Caller, the site Tucker Carlson created.
We're routinely impressed by Collins. We're eternally grateful for what we saw her do during those pandemic gong-shows, as other scribes just sat around.
Routinely, we're impressed by Collins. Is there possibly some small thing our blue tribe can learn from that?
Tomorrow: A very unusual profile