THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2021
...seven stars rushed to reject it: He didn't say it on the Senate floor, then just leave it at that.
He didn't leave it at that! After he gave his speech in the Senate, a certain silver-tongued orator picked up his fountain pen.
He delivered his speech all over again in a guest opinion column—in the Wall Street Journal, no less! Tough-talking headline included, this is the way he began:
Acquittal Vindicated the Constitution, Not Trump
Jan. 6 was a shameful day. A mob bloodied law enforcement and besieged the first branch of government. American citizens tried to use terrorism to stop a democratic proceeding they disliked.
There is no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility. His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone. His behavior during and after the chaos was also unconscionable, from attacking Vice President Mike Pence during the riot to praising the criminals after it ended.
The silver-tongued solon to whom we refer is none other than Mitch McConnell. Let's get clear on what he said in his Wall Street Journal column:
The headline said the "acquittal" in Trump's Senate "trial" wasn't a vindication of the former commander. McConnell may not have written that headline, but he surely wrote the text of his column.
We'll guess that he wrote it in longhand. At any rate, what he wrote could almost be seen as "stunning."
At the very start of his column, the federal government's highest-ranking Republican said the former commander-in-chief bears moral responsibility for the "shameful" (and deadly) riot at the Capitol Building.
He said there's no question about that! As he continued, he said Trump had earned that responsibility, at least in part, due to the "unhinged falsehoods" he'd been spewing concerning November's election.
(Being an experienced grownup, McConnell may have known that a phrase like that is more effective, as a persuasive device, than a fighting word like "lies." We're just taking a guess this choice of language.)
Briefly, let's review:
In his column, McConnell repeated what he'd already said on the Senate floor. The top-ranking Republican in the federal government said that Donald J. Trump was morally responsible for the deadly lunacy which took place on January 6.
Beyond that, he said the former commander's claims about November's election had been pure bunk. He explicitly said that Trump's endless claims had been falsehoods—unhinged falsehoods at that.
Coming from the top-ranking Republican, such statements might almost seem stunning. On Monday evening, we learned that one (1) cable star had reacted that way in real time.
On Monday evening, Lawrence O'Donnell went on at length, playing tape of what McConnell had said in his Senate address. Eleven minute into his paean, O'Donnell reported how he himself had felt, in real time, when he watched McConnell speak.
By now, O'Donnell was speaking with David Cicilline (D-RI), one of the House impeachment managers. This is what he said:
O'DONNELL (2/15/21): I want to start with Mitch McConnell's statement on the Senate floor.
I stayed glued to the Senate floor after you [impeachment managers] left—I expected some speeches. Chuck Schumer delivered what may be the best speech I've ever seen him deliver, and he's delivered plenty of good ones, about your work. And then, to my shock and amazement, Mitch McConnell stood up, and by the time he was three or four sentences into it, I was absolutely stunned by what I was seeing.
He said that Schumer gave a great speech. But he said he wanted to talk about McConnell's statement.
Lawrence said he'd been shocked and amazed by what McConnell said. He said that, as he watched McConnell speak, he was "absolutely stunned" by what he saw unfolding.
He asked Cicilline if the House managers had also been "stunned" by McConnell's address.
"Yes," Cicilline said. "It was obviously an acknowledgement, from the Republican leader in the Senate, that the House managers had done their job, that we'd established the former president's guilt of a constitutional crime" (our emphasis).
O'Donnell had been absolutely stunned by what he saw. Taking a few interpretive liberties, we'll characterize his reaction as follows:
Lawrence O'Donnell was prepared to accept McConnell's gift. He was prepared to take yes for an answer—to drink from a glass half full.
McConnell hadn't voted for conviction, but he had offered a gift. As he spoke on Monday night, O'Donnell specifically said that McConnell's suggestion that Trump should possibly be prosecuted had made it impossible for Lindsey Graham to conduct guerrilla war during Merrick Garland's confirmation hearing next week.
O'Donnell said that McConnell had taken a "weapon" out of Graham's hands. We'll move past that as we imagine why O'Donnell was "stunned" by what he saw.
As noted, McConnell is the highest ranking elected official in the others' town! When such a person agrees with the claims being made in Our Town, we've been given a very large tool to use in the act of persuasion.
It's no longer the corporate-paid loudmouths in Our Town who are saying that the commander engaged in "unhinged falsehoods." It's now the loudmouths here in Our Town—joined by the leading official in Theirs!
Do we self-impressed losers here in Our Town want to persuade The Others? Do we want to peel one percent of the public away from Trump, then perhaps another percent, then perhaps four or five more?
Do we want to peel such people away? Or is it perhaps beneath our dignity to speak to such obvious lessers?
Alas! Many millions of people believed the former commander-in-chief when he said, and said and said, that the election had been stolen. Many millions of people still believe that crazy claim.
(Who knows? Trump may believe it himself!)
Do we want to persuade a chunk of those people that Trump's claims have been crazy and false? If we do, might it help that the highest official in Their Town has said the same darn thing?
If we want to peel voters away from Trump, McConnell offered a gift. O'Donnell seemed to understand that fact. Very few others did.
Tomorrow, we'll show you what we saw after McConnell spoke, as we continued to watch the leading "cable news" channel here in Our Town. As a spoiler, we'll state an anthropological point:
According to leading experts, our brains aren't wired in such a way as to make us want to persuade The Others. Dating back into prehistory, we've always been wired to march off to war, disconsolate scholars all tell us.
Tomorrow: Watching the less-than-magnificent seven, followed by Senator Tester