Kieran Healy: “What Happened?”
Sunday, January 10, 2021
Healy’s analysis of GOP expectations vs. reality in the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. Snips:
I don’t know what happened. But here’s my current theory of what the White House thought was going to happen. I don’t have any more information than you do, and here I’m not concerned with the broader question of how the country came to this end. I am just trying to make sense of what happened on Wednesday. [...]
The plan for Wednesday was to have Trump go down and rile up the MAGA crowd, have them march up to the Capitol steps, and look like a big mass of people demanding something be done. Thanks to some preparatory cleansing of the DoD leadership last month (again, in outline pretty clear evidence that they intended to subvert the election), the White House had made sure there wouldn’t be much to stop the crowd from getting real close and making a lot of noise. The optics would be good. And the cops on duty wouldn’t go too hard on their MAGA buddies in any case. [...]
Once the ructions were underway, and the objections from Hawley and Cruz and others were being debated, Trump would call some Senators to push them to object or generally delay or whatever. At a minimum, anything to derail the process. And as a best outcome—well, this bit is one of those ?????? Underpants Gnomes stages that features in all half-thought-out Trumpy plans—between the direct pressure from Trump and the noise from the masses gathered outside (just look at those TV pictures!), there would be some big shift as Senators realized their base was against them and they’d vote to reject the Electoral votes and send everything back to the States. Or there would be chaos on the Senate floor and someone like Cruz would hope to capitalize on it to reach some quasi-legitimate “Compromise of 2021”. Or something. I’m not saying this makes much sense in terms of things that definitely had to happen. It’s more that they saw potential to seize the initiative in some real-time moment of uncertainty with the house divided and the crowd outside.
The crowd outside. [...] [B]ecause this was an event that Trump was going to be at himself, the idea was probably that from the crowd’s point of view it’d go more like a regular rally, as opposed to something like Charlottesville or the Michigan Statehouse. That is, from the White House’s point of view, the crowd was not actually supposed to get inside the Capitol. The MAGA/Q contingent are the useful marks in all this. They believe all the crap they’re fed. But obviously they’re not going to get into the building. It’s the US Capitol for God’s sake! The very idea that the rush of events would propel them right into the chambers was not something the White House wanted to happen, or thought was going to happen.
Of course, before the rally some of the actually dangerous Q-marinated nutters absolutely did want to get inside the building, find Pence, and Pelosi, and the rest, and literally take them hostage and string them up. They talked about this a lot on their message boards. The White House was probably well aware of these ideas.
Read the whole thing here. Well worth the time.