Trump’s enablers in Congress are a fascinating case study of political amnesia | Sidney Blumenthal

Last Updated: June 22, 2024By

The Triumph of Trump: A Congressional Pageant


After more than three years, Donald Trump finally managed to arrive at the Capitol by car. His last attempt, on January 6, 2021, ended in chaos as a mob ran wild, chanting threats. According to Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide, Trump was furious not to be among them. “I’m the damn president! Take me to the Capitol!” he allegedly demanded, even trying to grab the wheel himself.

If the Supreme Court hadn’t delayed Trump’s trial for his January 6 actions, he might have faced justice already. The indictment accused him of defrauding the United States to disrupt the election process.

But on Thursday, under the shadow of insurrectionist symbols, Trump arrived at the Capitol as a conquering hero to fellow Republicans. Some had been his allies in the plot, while others hid from the mob that day, now rallying behind him.

A week before, Trump’s conviction on 34 charges in New York for business fraud had ignited a Republican frenzy. Key members serenaded him with “Happy Birthday,” ignoring his felon status.

Lindsey Graham chimed in awkwardly, praising Trump’s golf game and hoping for his return as president. His slip, forgetting “President” in a tweet, showed his eagerness to please.


Senator JD Vance echoed this, seeking vice-presidential favor: “No credible Republican blames him for January 6.” Vance, once an outsider, now pledged fealty to Trump.

Even Ted Cruz, despite Trump’s past insults, cheered enthusiastically. Trump had mocked Cruz’s wife, but here he clapped fervently, fearing retribution if he didn’t.

Mitch McConnell, who once condemned Trump, now smiled through gritted teeth, praising their “positive” meeting. He conveniently forgot Trump’s insults and attacks on his wife.

Memory loss about Trump’s failures, like mishandling COVID-19, became a Republican strategy, a nostalgic amnesia now central to their politics.

The scene marked a new low, as Republicans groveled before a leader who had tried to overturn democracy, promising more reckoning.


Since his conviction, Trump obsessed over revenge, musing about death scenarios involving electric boats and sharks. His Freudian fixation suggested unresolved fears and desires.

In a rare moment with Republicans, Trump spoke of his odd desires for Pelosi and Swift, fantasizing about romantic connections with both women.

Pelosi’s daughter quickly denied his claims, adding to Trump’s history of lies and obsessions. Pelosi herself vowed to confront Trump if he dared set foot in the Capitol again.

Trump’s past behavior with women, from pageants to Stormy Daniels, revealed a pattern of dominance and disregard.

The scene at the Capitol echoed Soviet-era hero worship, Republicans mirroring Politburo commissars, offering “stormy applause” to their leader.

Senator Josh Hawley, who had signaled support for the January 6 mob, joined in the adulation, oblivious to his previous actions.

The event recalled Khrushchev’s critique of Stalin’s cult of personality, where flattery masked disastrous leadership. Khrushchev’s call to end hero worship resonates today.

The spectacle underscored a stark truth: Republicans had forsaken principle for Trump’s favor, trading dignity for his approval.

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