A tantrumming kid likes nothing better than people begging him to stop.
If we didn’t know that before, we know it now. All of Donald Trump’s special pals and relatives begged him to stop the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Fox News hosts, special Congressional friends, a son or two calling from a pay phone at a shopping mall in suburban Maryland asking an intermediary to talk to his dad for him. (No, Don Jr. wasn’t really at a shopping mall. It just seems like he could’ve been.) We know this because Chief of Staff Mark Meadows gave the January 6th Committee a ton of emails and texts and Congresswoman Liz Cheney read many of the more astonishing ones into the record yesterday.
While the rest of us were sitting dumbfounded watching the havoc and harm at the U.S. Capitol in real time, hands over our faces, peeking through our fingers, praying common sense would swoop down from the heavens and make Trump supporters stop using flag poles to beat the life out of Capitol police, Donald Trump was in his tantrumming glory.
He had convinced hundreds of people to act crazy and violent on his behalf. And he got to watch on live TV. He had to have been in heaven.
Meanwhile, because most people have never had adult friends or relatives able to mobilize hundreds of other people to act out their tantrums, we all sat waiting for the president to restore order. We waited and waited. And then we started constructing reasons why no one was showing up to protect the Capitol. The National Guard was too far away. The Capitol Police command structure had broken down. Commentators opined that the president might be of two minds about the assault and then Trump himself appeared on camera to tell people two things: go home and we love you, confirming the commentators’ thesis. He was equivocating, that’s what took all that time.
The truth is the president was never of two minds. He wasn’t watching the ongoing violence and weighing whether to intervene or let it play out. His whole body and soul wanted things to be wrecked – the Capitol, the people in it, the election, probably even the country – because there was nothing in that moment (or maybe even now) that would assuage the Donald Trump’s acute, visceral, hideous hurt at not getting what he wanted.
Nobody could get the guy to stop what was happening. Until, I’m guessing, there was a threat of being usurped, someone taking control of the country out of his hands.
It’s ridiculous for me to be astonished by this but I am.