Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Narratology: State of the Theory


Fall of the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, October 1917

The most surprising news to me in the Tuesday hearing was the story that Trump really meant it on January 6 at the Ellipse:

And after this,
we're going to walk down,
and I'll be there with you,
we're going to walk down,
we're going to walk down.

I mean of course he was indeed lying about the walking part. It's two miles from the Ellipse to the Capitol, he hasn't walked anywhere near that far in 60 years and clearly can't, any more than he could walk the 700 yards with the G7 leaders in Taormina in 2017, when he had to chug behind them in a golf cart, and as Kayleigh McEnany recounted it, he seems to have pulled back from that notion pretty quickly:

to the best of my recollection, I believe when we got back to the White House he said he wanted to physically walk with the marchers. And according to my notes, he then said, you'd be fine with just riding the Beast, but — so that's my recollection. He wanted to be a part of the March in some fashion.

(My bold. The NPR transcript actually has "writing the piece" for "riding the Beast", but you can tell from context what it should have been.) 

But my assumption had always been that he wouldn't have wanted to be there in any fashion—that he'd be too scared of the mayhem he'd caused. Mr. Pierce had a similar thought:

Nevertheless, Trump seems to have been actually desperate to go to the Capitol, to the point of being ready to grapple with his minders, the driver of the Beast and the Secret Service guy, like a toddler in a tantrum: "I'm the fucking president, take me to the Capitol now!"—NBC's Peter Alexander is hawking an anonymous Secret Service denial of this story, but one that denies it in such a way as to show it's basically true (non-tweeters should note my tweet above is a response to Alexander's tweet below):

So one thing that occurs to me is that violence at the Capitol isn't the only thing he wasn't frightened of that day; he also wasn't frightened of all the people with weapons, including firearms, who came to watch the Ellipse speech from a distance, evading the magnetometers security had set up around the audience area, irritating Trump, because that made his audience look smaller to the TV cameras than it actually was. And he explained very clearly why he wasn't scared: "I don't fucking care that they have weapons, they're not here to harm me. Take the fucking mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here."

They were his people and they were there to harm somebody else. He wouldn't be in any danger at all. They  were the ones who would march with their weapons to the Capitol, and harm his enemies, including his disloyal vice president, and occupy the building, as laid out in the December 30 Proud Boys "Storm the Winter Palace" program:

Who would GOV respond to? To Trump! He was supposed to be there! No Trump, No America! He wanted to be in the Capitol so that after they won their battle they could invite him into the building, part before him like the waters of the Red Sea, and escort him to the dais in the House Chamber, where he wouldn't exactly be proclaimed Emperor and given a laurel crown, but senators and representatives would be gathered in sufficient numbers to work his will, declare the Biden election a fake, and name him president-elect. That was the plan!

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: As Mr. Giuliani and I were walking to his vehicles that evening, he looked at me and said something to the effect of, Cass, are you excited for the 6th? It's going to be a great day. I remember looking at him saying, Rudy, could you explain what's happening on the 6th? He had responded something to the effect of, we're going to the Capitol.

It's going to be great. The President's going to be there. He's going to look powerful. He's — he's going to be with the members. He's going to be with the Senators. Talk to the chief about it, talk to the chief about it. He knows about it.

It's my idea that the "Storming the Winter Palace" scheme was a replacement for the original plan rehearsed by the Proud Boys on December 12, in which a pitched street battle between Trumpy militias and "antifa" anarchists would give Trump a kind of excuse for invoking the Insurrection Act and giving himself dictatorial powers under martial law, called off when it turned out, earlier than I supposed in my Reichstag hypothesis of last winter, that anarchists were going to be too smart to show up on January 6.

Trump's always been a gambler, and a bad gambler, with lousy instincts, as I've pointed out before (saved repeatedly from his catastrophic bets by father figures beginning with his father). They—Giuliani and Stone and Alexander and Trump—actually believed, insofar as they were able to think coherently at all, that they could make it happen. It was the only chance left after Pence's defection to make this thing work, and Trump had to be there, even if it meant fighting with the chauffeur, even if it meant waiting in the White House all afternoon (if McEnany is telling her story straight, he made his remarks to her "when we got back to the White House", that is after the altercation in the limousine—he still hadn't given up the plan), he and Meadows apparently in a kind of catatonic state, unable to bring themselves to do anything.

What he was waiting for that long afternoon was for his troops to win, over the purposely hobbled Capitol Police and absent national guardsmen, upon which the victors would invite him down to make his grand entrance.

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