For people who have suffered from cancer or some other dreadful disease, there is often a gap of a few hours – or a few days – between clinical trials and a meeting with a doctor to get official news.
n my experience, patients read or pray or go for long walks until they feel that they are completely bound. Then, reality becomes official, and it knocks them over.
The latest presentation by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol reminded me of that sequence. As the President urged them, we thought we were prepared for the reality of a mob raging for blood. After all, we knew in real time that Donald Trump stirred up an angry crowd with his unfounded claims of a stolen election, then remained silent for hours apart from a hate tweet from his vice president, Mike Pence.
But I, for one, was unwilling to learn that the Secret Service officers assigned to protect Pence were approaching immediate loved ones to say goodbye forever as the rioters set off. I’ve seen a lot of Secret Service agents, and they don’t seem to be the panic type. These communications were monitored and noted by White House staff.
Reported that an armed crowd was chanting “hang up Mike Pence”, the president did not express concern.
We say: Give it to me straight away, doctor, but then a flag falls between our eyes. Only then, only in retrospect, do we see how habitually optimistic Americans are.
We think the “straight” news will most likely be there. Yes, it is cancer – but there is a promising treatment. This is multiple sclerosis – but researchers are making progress. The January 6 committee told us straight away that the president sat mesmerized in front of his TV set as the Capitol was being mutilated, the Secret Service was terrorized, the vice president was threatened, the Capitol police were beaten up — And all because Trump’s insatiable narcissism wouldn’t allow him to spit out the words “the election is over.”
In the shortest time in the history of the presidency, there was no hope. However, there was a clue to the pathology of the disease. A witness at Thursday’s hearing, Sarah Matthews, described the hours in which she felt her decency and self-esteem would no longer allow her to work in Trump’s press office. He had the foresight to see that someone would be held accountable for the president’s outrageous conduct – and it would not be him, because it never happens. She will not defend the unforgivable.
Before she reached the pass, Mathews was joined by a small force of West Wingers who were trying to persuade the president to withdraw the crowd. And one press office aide (whom she was kind enough to name) said that after inciting the riot, Trump couldn’t end it without “giving the media a victory.”
Such thinking is clearly neurotic. A leader doesn’t lose by doing the right thing, or win by doing a double whammy on a wrong decision. But the thought pattern came from nowhere. Every president I’ve covered has been misunderstood by the media, sometimes for good reason. In the Trump era, this sometimes adversarial relationship turned into a win-lose contest.
The excesses and recklessness on the part of many media outlets – I’m thinking credible and prudent coverage of the baseless rumors in the steel dossier – would have been condemned more widely if they had not targeted the arrogant Trump. And Trump’s convenient recourse to his “fake news” fortress would have been hollowed out if the news had been more honest. The president versus the press became an ill-fated symbiosis – providing both sides with a business model and a plot line. power and purpose.
Millions of Americans were drawn into the melodrama, feeling compelled to choose sides.
Losing again and again in the smoke of war was a human understanding that neither a failed president nor a disgraced press is in the best interest of the nation
Many media outlets reached unprecedented audiences, while Trump achieved a (thank god) degree of devotion rarely seen in American politics.
Losing repeatedly in the smoke of war was a human understanding that neither a failed president nor a disgraced press is in the best interest of the nation.
That anonymous press aide accurately diagnosed America’s cancer. We cannot get rid of Trump, no matter how blatantly and heavily exposed the corruption of January 6. Many of his followers would never “win” the other side.
I recently saw a new sticker on a pickup truck: “Trump 2024 / [F—] your feelings.”
The fight boils down to its nihilistic essence, nothing positive, only contempt for the other. Yet the end of Trump will surely come, because what happened on January 6 was very ill. We must choose whether the end is death or healing. (© Washington Post)