Here’s a good rule of political thumb: any congressional hearing played in Capitol Hill bars is a farce.
The January 6th hearings is one such burlesque—a send up of a serious consideration of facts. Due to its ample media attention, caused, in part, by the committee’s hiring of former ABC News president James Goldston to “produce” the event, the entire investigative charade should be ignored.
But here I am writing about the made-for-TV hearing. Damn the punditry gods!
The Hill reports that watch parties were scheduled across our fair capital city to take advantage of the maiden primetime broadcast. Were I motivated enough, and were gas not punching in at five bucks a pump, and were 8PM not my kids’ bedtime, I’d have driven into the District, hand on my horn, shouting “NEEEEEEEEERRRRRRDDDDD” at every passerby, Homer Simpson-style. Instead, I read “Little Blue Truck’s Halloween” on the balmy June night—which was far more enlightening on my estimated 73rd read of it than force-watching congressional prating and preening.
Lucky me, though, a handful more hearings are scheduled that I can watch from the comfort of my couch. A cyanide sandwich sounds more tasteful.
So why all the hubbub over the “cornpone intifada,” as Sohrab Ahmari rightly puts it, two Easters after it occurred? When pitted against other pressing issues like inflation, border security, recession fears, and Sino-espionage, a couple of shattered windows and tumbled bike racks seem trivial. Why steal broadcast bandwidth from Canuck puck ball playoffs just to show Liz Cheney’s furrowed brow?
It’s the election, stupid. It’s always the next election.
“Jan. 6 Hearings Give Democrats a Chance to Recast Midterm Message” was the give-away headline in The New York Times. A recasting certainly is in order: the Democrats need a more inspiring character than ORANGE MAN BAD! to excite voters. Too bad they’re doubling down on playing off the stale off-Washington, on-Palm Beach troupe from the last election. If weaponizing congressional hearings over a treasonous fracas was supposed to be a secret GOTV play, the cat’s well out of the bag. NYT’s Annie Karni and Luke Broadwater report:
The paper of record isn’t the only mainstream organ to see through the ploy. Sarah Ferris of Politico concurs: “House Democrats know that even the most damning findings from their probe into the Capitol attack may not save their majority in November. They’re still pleading with voters to pay attention.”
It says a lot that two of the most Democratic-friendly media pubs are not giving commentary cover to the Jan. 6th committee. Instead, the inquisition’s ulterior motivations are said aloud in the most read paper in the country. Hell, even David Brooks—genial Never Trumper par excellence—is calling the klieg-lighted soliloquy show “pathetic.”
If the guy who smeared the GOP as the commode-float party isn’t impressed by your electoral theatrics, you’re probably posterior flotsam too.
Yet the show must go on, and we’ll get plenty of hi-res Getty images of Adam Schiff’s blotchy skin primer. You might have to take out a second mortgage at twice the rate of your first to fill your gas tank, but here are the Muppets baying for the blood of “traitors” on “The January 6th Show.”
What, you can’t fill your Impala with cheap laughs? Kermit the Frog rhyming “injurious” with “Nazi-curious” doesn’t fill your 401k’s YOY gap?
Well, I guess you’re just a bad citizen. No, really, you are. I caught NPR’s David Folkenflik’s urging his analog audience to watch the proceedings as “citizens,” the inference being that anyone who tunes out is a bad American.
If having to watch a bunch of rumpled career politicians, who once objected to certifying Bush electors, cosplay as democracy defenders means being a good American, you can call me King George the Third. There’s a fine line between an informed citizen and a Politico Pro subscriber. Should I ever become the latter, the editor has my express permission to cease my contributorship here.
But if I have to keep myself wised up as to the committee’s doings, I’d rather peruse the 12-page missive Donald Trump put out to preempt the show hearing, which reads like one of his patented elongated tweets spliced with stat-rich block quotes compiled by an intern. The entire thing comes off like a disjointed rant, and I can’t make heads or tails of the election malfeasance allegations, but the phrase “What a load of bologna!” is used with sterling precision. Lunchmeat exclamations make for far better entertainment than hearing about Rudy Giuliani’s taste for tipple.
In the main, that’s all the January 6th hearings amount to: entertainment for the Capitol City class. Sure, Democrats would love if “CSI: Seditious Grandma Edition” nudged poll numbers in their direction before November. Slim chance, there. Americans lost interest in the Jan. 6th dustup months ago—before war in Europe and towering prices at home. Quality-cut Twitter compilation videos aren’t about to draw back their attention.
Let the boat-shoes-and-Brook-Brothers bros on the Hill have their poli-porno. They can quaff $10 domestics at Bullfeathers while enjoying the C-SPANtainment as their stations hang precariously in the balance.
What could be more symbolic of late-republic decadence?