Everyone Wanted A Preemptive Pardon
One of the constants in Trump's life-- because of his fraught relationship with an overbearing, judgmental father-- was that he cannot bear the very idea of being labelled a loser. That little personality flaw is not a good one for a politician. And it kind of made J-6 nearly inevitable. If Trump could just find enough ass-lickers to back him up... and, tragically, he did. What the select committee has been presenting are mostly conservatives-- some ass-lickers, some ex-ass-lickers and a pitifully few Never-ass-lickers-- now willing to testify how Trump tried to make a case, though Biden beat him 81,268,924 (51.3%) to 74,216,154 (46.9%) and by 306 electoral votes to just 232, that he is not a loser. Not just that he didn't lose-- but, more importantly, that he is not a loser.
Horrifyingly most Republican voters (65%) buy into Trump's case-- and, according to a new YouGov poll, 26% say they think that the Jan. 6 rioters who sacked the Capitol did the right thing-- not just the right-wing thing, the correct thing. Just 49% of Republicans said the rioters did the wrong thing.
Late this morning, Philip Bump wrote in his Washington Post column that the findings of the select committee, playing out on TV, will not impact the GOP's electoral trajectory. "[T]hat 20 million Americans watched the first hearing last week seemed significant: That’s substantially more people than watched the Oscars, for example. None of those viewers were tuned to Fox News, however. Fox’s decision to shunt the hearing off to its lesser-watched subsidiaries had the expected effect of lowering viewership; instead, the flagship network aired misinformation about what had occurred on the day of the riot. It was a reminder that the group of Americans the House committee most hoped to reach-- Republicans who accept Donald Trump’s claims about election fraud-- were perhaps the least likely to tune in."
This week brought new political reminders of the extent to which the right and left diverge on views of Trump’s effort to retain power. In the first state primaries to follow the Jan. 6 committee’s more-public approach, Trump-endorsed candidates fared well, including some at the center of his efforts to spread false claims about the election.
...By the Washington Post’s count, more than 100 Republican primary winners had embraced or accepted Trump’s false claims about the election. That was before the contests in Nevada and South Carolina; the Nevada GOP also nominated a secretary of state candidate who had spread unwarranted concerns about election security. And, again, those elections occurred after the new, public effort by the Jan. 6 committee to explain what happened in the aftermath of the election.
None of this means that the committee’s investigation will not have the desired effect on America’s understanding of the riot. But it may be too late. Republican voters are advancing a slew of candidates to November who have already staked positions in alignment with Trump. Those candidates will be on the ballot in a general election that is expected to be unusually unfavorable to Democrats. The Trump-fraud position is baked in.
If the committee hasn’t convinced Americans by January, it will probably be too late. If, as expected, Republicans retake the House, the committee will probably not survive the week.
Greg Sargent's column came out at the same time and he's hopeful that Luttig's testimony this morning could shift the debate "The line making news is Luttig’s claim that Trump developed a 'well developed plan' to cling to power illegitimately. He aptly says this would have 'plunged' our country into a 'paralyzing constitutional crisis.' But there’s something more important in Luttig’s testimony. He indicts the Republican Party as a whole , not just for 2020, but also for going all in on a future in which election losses will henceforth be treated as inherently illegitimate and subject to subversion."
Luttig suggested that much of the GOP "is still wedded to the idea that reversing the 2020 election might in some sense have been a legitimate or at least understandable mission [and has] adopted the principle that a future overturned election might be needed 'to accomplish that which the previous revolt failed to accomplish.'" Luttig warned that "this portends an era of dangerous democratic instability. He says only Republicans can end this madness: 'Only the party that instigated this war over our democracy can bring an end to that war.'"
The judiciary performed very well under intense pressure from Trump and his co-conspirators in 2020. Similarly, there’s a faction of conservative elites-- albeit perhaps a rapidly shrinking one-- that wants the GOP to unambiguously renounce Trump’s coup effort, and with it, the GOP’s drift into treating future election losses as illegitimate and nonbinding as party dogma.
Or, as constitutional law expert Eric Segall put it to me, Luttig has the power to reach conservative judicial elites who "deep down know how dangerous 1/6 was, and need a hook to help make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Luttig’s testimony offers a real opening to shift this debate. Democrats should make the most of it.