Culture Wars/Current Controversies

A Tale of Two Authoritarians

By Matt Taibbi

The appearance of Dick Cheney in the House of Representatives on the anniversary of January 6th helped identify the true villain on the scene.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney visited the House of Representatives yesterday. He and his daughter Liz were the only two Republicans present at a moment of silence commemorating the events of last January 6th. It was a touching scene, which perfectly described why the surviving anti-Trump Uniparty of the political mainstream is at least as much of a threat to democracy as the “insurrectionists” they never stop wailing about.

In a story entitled “Dick Cheney returns to the House and receives a warm welcome . . . from Democrats,” the Washington Post wrote that “Democrats put aside their fierce and lasting policy divides with the Cheneys to thank them for condemning the attack and Trump’s continued effort to undermine the 2020 presidential election results with his false claims of fraud.”

(News writing has become a pre-fab profession, like assembling IKEA furniture. All you need is an Allen wrench and a list of the latest clichés. “Trump’s efforts to undermine the 2020 election” has replaced “Trump’s efforts to coordinate with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” and “Trump’s false claims of fraud” has replaced “Trump’s false claims of ‘fake news.’” Part of the significance of January 6th is that it updated popular propaganda stock, which had grown stale.)

I don’t mean to understate the seriousness of January 6th, even though it’s been absurdly misreported for over a year now. No one from a country where these things actually happen could mistake 1/6 for “a coup .” In the real version, the mob doesn’t take selfies and blaze doobies after seizing the palace, and the would-be dictator doesn’t spend 187 minutes snacking and watching Fox before tweeting “go home.” Instead, he works the phones nonstop to rally precinct chiefs, generals, and airport officials to the cause, because a coup is a real attempt to seize power. Britannica says the “chief prerequisite for a coup is control of all or part of the armed forces, the police, and other military elements.” We saw none of that on January 6th, but it’s become journalistic requirement to use either “coup” or “insurrection” in describing it:

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