You know, presidential historian and House Librarian Doris Kerns Goodwin is a real Babe Ruth today, she just keeps knocking it out of the park. And on Rachel Maddow tonight, she may have just provided a clue as to what to look for in the upcoming televised 1/6 public hearings.
She started her day giving a discussion presentation in the well of the House, in which she recounted that violence isn’t unknown within the walls of the US Capitol. Prior to the start of the Civil War, a pro slavery South Carolina Senator nearly caned an anti slavery northern Senator in the well of the Senate. The horror of the event so galvanized the nation that it directly led to the demise of the Whig Party, and Abraham Lincoln joining the Republican party, where became President and shepherded us through the Civil War.
Ms. Goodwin went on to say that she saw parallels between that event and 1/6. It was a nationally galvanizing event, it was either right or wrong, there was no middle ground. And she said that the signs were there, already a majority of Americans repudiate the riot, and acknowledge Biden as the legitimate President. It wouldn’t take that much of a shift in public opinion to make Republicans with a conscience start to reconsider being on the wrong side of history.
She closed her busy day with an appearance on Rachel Maddow, where she may have unintentionally dropped a bombshell in regards to the true purpose of the 1/6 committee.
She related that during the Civil War, Lincoln was a prolific and famed storyteller. Sometimes to the point of exhaustion. And when asked why he told so many stories, Lincoln calmly replied that They get the point across so much better than facts and figures. And in 1939 and 1940, before Pearl Harbor, the American isolationists, FDR became a storyteller in explaining why it was so important for the US to support Great Britain, which stood alone in the path of the Nazi’s. He said, If you give your neighbor a fire hose to save his house, his house will save your house.
And that is the vision that Doris Kerns Goodwin has for the 1/6 committee. To use their platform to tell a tight, cohesive, compelling story of the actual events leading up to, through, and after 1/6 to start molding public opinion. And I think she’s absolutely right.
Let me give you an example. In short order, there were two nationally televised hearings, Michael Cohen’s appearance before the House, and Trump’s first impeachment trial. Now, compare the two. Cohen’s testimony was uber compelling, and dominated the news cycle for days. Why? Because he is a natural storyteller, and he could engage and hold the audience. The Trump impeachment was reading of dry facts and figures, and even I labored through it. In legal circles they have an acronym for it, MEGO, My Eyes Glaze Over.
Look. If you actually have the facts and figures to back up your claims, you don’t need to gush them out in a fire hose. You can instead refer to them as you weave a compelling, easy to follow story, in which you lay out the whole sick, twisted affair. that’s the whole reason for the process in the first place.
Pop Quiz! How many televised public hearings has the 1/6 committee held? Answer: One. The hearing where four metro and Capitol Hill police officers testified personally to their experiences on 1/6. And it blew the doors off. It was compelling as hell, and the snippets dominated the news cycle for days.
And personally? That’s where I see this going as well. Just look at how the committee is handling their releases. They’re announcing new subpoenas, and deposition dates, but then Liz Cheney is coming out with tantalizing chains of e-mails, texts, and conversations to make a point. If you’re going to televise hearings, especially in prime time, give the people what they want to see. After all, you already have the facts and figures to back it up.