SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2022
Be careful about the things you're told: Especially at times like these, the world of us the human beings is quite frequently Narrative All the Way Down.
Or at least, so the anthropologists tell us! With those words of caution in mind, we'll suggest you exhibit caution concerning the various things you're being told about the January 6 report.
Some thumbs may be on some scales as the report is described! Consider one basic question which has often been asked:
Did Donald J. Trump know and believe that he actually lost the election?
Did Donald J. Trump know he had lost? Blue tribe tribunes will stress the (accurate) fact that he was repeatedly told that he had lost.
Perhaps a bit childishly, our tribunes treat the fact that he had been told as proof that he actually knew. In so doing, they blow past an obvious fact:
People don't always believe the things they're told! That may be especially true of disordered people like Trump.
That said, how about it? Did Trump know and believe that he had actually lost? Yesterday, a news report in the New York Times addressed that question as shown:
BROADWATER AND FEUER (12/23/22): [Cassidy] Hutchinson told the committee that she had been told by several allies of Mr. Trump that he knew he had lost the election two weeks after Election Day but continued to push for any way he could try to overturn the results, first through lawsuits but then through increasingly extreme plans.
Ms. Hutchinson testified that Mark Meadows, her boss and the White House chief of staff, spoke with her on Jan. 2, 2021, after Mr. Trump had sought to persuade Georgia election officials to swing the election in his favor.
“He said something to the effect of: ‘He knows it’s over. He knows he lost. But we are going to keep trying,’ ” Ms. Hutchinson recalled Mr. Meadows saying, referring to Mr. Trump.
So pleasing! In that passage, Broadwater and Feuer quote Hutchinson describing something Meadows reportedly said on January 2.
Or do they? We'd already read the fuller transcript of Hutchinson's testimony. As you can see on page 129 of the relevant testimony, her fuller statement was this:
HUTCHINSON (9/14/22): He said something to the effect of: "He knows it’s over. He knows he lost. But we are going to keep trying. There's a chance he didn't lose. I want to pull this off for him."
"There's a chance he didn't lose?" At the New York Times, the murky, unexplained statement didn't make the cut. The preferred storyline is much better without it.
(Also, of course, the obvious: This is Hutchinson's recollection of something Meadows said. She isn't saying that she heard Trump himself say that he knew he had lost.)
That said, how about it? Did Trump know and believe that he had actually lost?
We aren't sure we know how to answer that question. Rational people knew he had lost—but "rational" isn't the first word which comes to mind when we think about Donald J. Trump.
We can't say that we admire the way the New York Times clipped that quote. That said, at times like these, Storyline tends to prevail.
For another quick example, consider the way our blue tribe's tribunes are handling the story of Trump's angry, possibly violent reaction when he was told that he couldn't go to the Capitol Building himself. We offer these two thoughts:
What this supposedly says about Trump: Within our blue tribe enclaves, we're encouraged to think that this shows that Trump was somehow complicit in the violent behavior which took place at the Capitol.
But does it really show that? It seems to us that, if Trump knew there would be a series of vicious attacks on police officers, he wouldn't want to be physically present while such behavior occurred.
For that reason, Trump's desire to go to the Capitol might suggest that he didn't know that violence would be occurring. In fairness, that's the way a rational actor would likely behave. This may not hold for a disordered figure like Trump.
What this may say about the Secret Service: Our tribe also loves the idea that some members of the Secret Service were simply handmaidens to Trump.
Doesn't this incident tend to show something different? It was his Secret Service detail, presumably including Ornato and Engel, which decided that he couldn't go to the Capitol, in spite of his strong desire to do so. Whatever Trump may (or may not) have been planning that day, it seems they weren't involved.
Many questions remain unresolved about the events of January 6. Among those questions are these:
Did Donald J. Trump know he had lost? Is it possible that he really believed the idiotic "conspiracy theories" about election fraud propounded by such crackpot associates as Giuliani and Powell?
Did he know there would be violence at the Capitol Building? Why did he want to go to to the Capitol? What did he think he was going to do if he was taken there?
Even now, we still don't know how to answer those questions. Absent the pleasures of Storyline, we're not sure that anyone does.
Overwhelmingly, we view this astounding episode as a story of monumental mental disorder, not just on the part of Donald J. Trump but among his crackpot associates.
In the January 6 report, the committee repeatedly refers to "fake electors." In the New York Times, the term "false electors" is being used.
We would be inclined to use the term "clownishly invalid electors." Across the landscape of Trump World, this is, among other things, a tale of astounding intellectual disorder. Such disorder is overpowering within the inner regions of Trump World, but it extends into our own blue world too.
In closing, let's return to that one clipped quote. Below, you see what Cassidy Hutchinson said, and what the Times reported:
What Hutchinson said:
He said something to the effect of: "He knows it’s over. He knows he lost. But we are going to keep trying. There's a chance he didn't lose. I want to pull this off for him."
What the Times reported:
He said something to the effect of: "He knows it’s over. He knows he lost. But we are going to keep trying."
Why do you think they clipped Hutchinson's statement that way? Over and over, again and again, we see such edits being made, accompanied by major or minor leaps of logic, even Over Here within our own infallible tribe.
Anthropologists say that we humans are wired this way. We've begun to think that these top experts could possibly be right!