It was a weekend of the Big Gay Out, the Americas Cup … We spent time with friends, out and about, scanning and masking as required. We were living, if not the dream, then at least our slightly nervous nearly normal. Then the country was back into degrees of lockdown.
Later that day my mobile suddenly emitted a nerve-shredding eldritch shriek of the sort you might expect if being alerted to a nuclear facility in core meltdown. I swear I levitated half a metre off the couch. Still, effective public health communication, for sure.
The announcement set off, like twin malfunctioning klaxons, National's Judith Collins and Act's David Seymour, enraged by the Government's stubborn refusal to infallibly control the mutating virus currently ravaging the world.
Nothing involving humans will be perfect. Plenty of evidence of that as the impeachment trial of former President Trump for inciting insurrection played out to its dispiriting foregone conclusion. The violent security camera and bodycam footage shown by the house managers put what happened at the Capitol on the historical record. "This is all emotional political theatre," railed Fox New's Greg Gutfeld. A colleague disagreed: "It's not theatre, because that's what happened."
If it was theatre, it was a sort of medieval morality play. Beware compromising your soul to follow false idols who will forsake you in a heartbeat. The Arizona rioter with the horned headgear, the "QAnon Shaman", had time to ponder this in jail. "Be patient with me and other peaceful people who, like me, are having a very difficult time piecing together all that happened to us, around us, and by us." Trump inspired him, he said, and Trump let him down. No good playing the victim now.
That's how incitement works. Trump said, "When you catch someone in a fraud, you're allowed to go by very different rules." The new footage showed the rioters understood whose rules they were playing by. One explained to a police officer, "There's a f***ing million of us out there and we are listening to Trump — your boss." Just following orders.
Senior Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, voted to acquit on a matter of constitutional interpretation. But he understood exactly what happened. "There's no question – none – that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day," he said. "They did this because they'd been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth because he was angry he lost an election."
Trump knows, too. In his statement after the acquittal, he merrily projected a forensic description of his own modus operandi - "... denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters …" - on to those trying to hold him to account.
There was a shred of comfort to be had from the vote. It didn't hit the required two-thirds majority but it was a historic bipartisan condemnation of the rolling caravan of menacing absurdity that was Trump's presidency.
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The spectacle offered insight into how ordinary people become disposable foot soldiers for the worst leaders. The New Yorker's Masha Gessen quotes philosopher Hannah Arendt who, in 1961, reported for the magazine on Adolf Eichmann's trial. "Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow," Arendt wrote. "Instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness." Trump's most devoted supporters still believe that this little setback is all part of his grand plan.
The scary thing is not what he might get up to in the future but the damage he has already done. His presidency dragged fake news, conspiracy theories and just plain dangerous nonsense from the margins into the mainstream.
It's going to be as difficult as battling a mutating virus to undo that.