Until yesterday, the best speech I ever heard given by a politician was the speech that Ronald Reagan delivered after the Challenger blew up on January 28, 1986. I was in a meeting in Albany the morning of that fated flight and at some point, the door opened, someone walked in and announced that the rocket had exploded after less than a minute in the air and the entire crew was lost.
We all sat there in the room in a total state of shock. Then slowly, without anyone saying a word, everyone stood up, filed out of the room, and went home. I don’t think I said a word to anyone until I got back to New York City hours later, walked into my apartment where my wife was just beginning to watch Reagan’s speech on TV.
The President’s speech was remarkable, and believe me, I was no great fan of The Gipper then or now. But basically, what he said, in so many other words, was that when you do something that is new and difficult and even dangerous, that sh*t happens whether you want it to happen or not.
Reagan said what he said with dignity, calm, and respect. By the end of his remarks, I found myself able to talk and think clearly again for the first time since I learned that the Challenger had blown up. It was simply a great speech.
Garland’s speech yesterday was obviously on much different topic but like Reagan’s attempt to explain the Challenger disaster, the Attorney General was also trying to explain how an event occurred – the January 6th riot – which nobody had been prepared to understand either before or since.
What was so shocking and difficult to understand about January 6th is that events like that riot don’t happen here. They happen in 3d-World countries where governments collapse on a regular basis but the United States government doesn’t collapse.
There isn’t a single politician or media venue on either side that hasn’t given us their two cents for what happened one year ago today. But until yesterday, none of what had been said made any sense. For the Republicans, the January 6th riot was an expression of the frustration felt by so many patriotic Americans who believed that their votes the previous November hadn’t been counted properly and that their man lost when he actually won. For the Fake News media, on the other hand, January 6th represented the first and most overt expression of a fascist wave that would ultimately obliterate American democracy by 2024.
In other words, until yesterday’s speech by Merrick Garland, there was not a single analysis of January 6th, 2021, which bore any relationship to reality or made any sense.
But what was most remarkable about Garland’s speech is that he didn’t tell us why January 6th took place. He gave a very clear and detailed explanation for what the DOJ was doing to figure out what took place. Want to understand how a criminal investigation is organized and conducted from beginning to end? That was the meat of Garland’s speech.
But there were also plenty of potatoes, in particular his comments about why DOJ needed better tools to investigate other threats to the democratic process, in particular, efforts to limit voting rights and the increase in threats and physical assaults on public officials and other individuals serving in public roles.
When all is said and done, Garland’s speech was a roadmap for how the DOJ under his tenure would try to reverse the corruption of public law and public service which occurred under Donald Trump. And it couldn’t have just been coincidental that at the same time Garland was speaking, Trump cancelled the press conference he was going to hold tonight.
Trump’s decision to cancel out was dutifully reported by the liberal media which quoted several GOP Senators who were against holding the press conference as if their comments were real news. The real news is that Merrick Garland specifically stated that the worst offenders facing the most serious charges for January 6th were the individuals who planned the event, and his investigation would seek to identify and charge these people “at any level” with felonies, no matter how high the reach were to go.
So, now the Fake News will attract plenty of clicks trying to figure out whether Trump will or will not get indicted for helping to plan the January 6th assault.