Philip Green
7 min readDec 6, 2023

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On Cassidy Hutchinson

In the New York Ties Book Review of October 15 last, the first three books on the Non-Fiction Hardcover list were by Republicans, who seem always to have done more reading than Democrats. # 2 was one of Bill Reilly’s amateur histories (Salem witchcraft), #3 was Mark Levin’s extravaganza of hatred, in which he projects his Naziism on to Democrats (hard for a Jew to be a Nazi, but he does his best), and Number One is Enough, a memoir of Cassidy Hutchinson, whose current politics are about as far from Levin’s as can be.

Who is Cassidy Hutchinson? No need to ask.

There’s a very nice touch toward the end of the memoir, when she was “approached by Charles Barkley but was unaware of his identity.”

Yes, you can picture it, seeing him go back to his table and saying, “Hey, guys, guess who I just saw?” Because that’s what she is, a “guess who, a “did you see her?”, and always will be.

If you Google her, there’s a photo to take you so immediately back to the look that you can never forget, sitting just slightly forward, head titled slightly to the right, left hand above her chest, fingers played, eyes wide open seeming to look up a little, as though seeing the whole room, but not like Rembrandt glaring straight at everybody: looking not afraid nor self-righteous but absolutely there: a “her” forever. She is about, as Lawrence O’Donnell put it the other night, to “change the course of American history:”

When the Creator had Joan of Lorraine mastering swordplay at the age of fifteen, They must have been leaving something over for becoming an unquestioned aide de camp to the second most powerful man in the nation (or the World) at the age of twenty-three; in my own favorite fantasy of the moment she’s saying “Yes, Representative Jordan, I’ll see if he’s available.” Lots of luck, Jim….

As so: Liz Cheney, who dominates this hearing room from every angle, asks the question, right down the middle, it could be the last pitch in Don Larsen’s Perfect Game, here goes American history:

“Just to be clear, Ms. Hutchinson, is it your understanding that the president wanted to take the mags away and said that the armed individuals were not there to hurt him?”

“That’s a fair assessment, I answer”.

Yes, you did.

At the break in the Committee hearings at which she was testifying, when she and her lawyers left the room to take a breath and get a drink, they walked past a line of chairs on which were still seated six Capitol police men and one police woman–Caroline Edwards, who described herself as “wading through a field of blood”: and as Cassidy passed they began to applaud; and went on applauding.

We have to think about that moment. Cops don’t applaud civilians, that’s not part of the job description, “to serve and protect.” But here they are, all in full uniform and they are recognizing someone who has been described as “a hero,” and they recognize that person and the endless moment in which she is forever immersed, and they applaud.

“Take the effing things away,” I testify hearing him order. And “Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.”

“Let My People In…” Oh my god.

For me that walk past the applauding cops brought nothing so much to mind as that other unforgettable moment: the semi-final scene of “To Kill a Mockingbird” when Gregory Peck, who has failed to save an innocent man’s life, turns and starts his lonely walk up the aisle, and the pastor up in the balcony puts his and on Scout’s shoulder and says, “Stand up, girl, your father’s passing.” Of course that was a pleasant fiction: Cassidy Hutchinson (and Carolyn Edwards and the other six) did it for real. She passed, yes.

Has any euphemism in the history of public speaking ever had the decisive power the millions of us watching recognized in that “effing:” From the young women, who couldn’t bring herself to say “fucking” in a direct quote and yet took down the man who had been President of the United States.

But why? Her memoir is full of self-doubt and regret and mistakes supposedly made along the way; and I’m not sure she fully understands and accepts what a privilege it was finally to be in a place where she was destined to be and do what had to be done: few of us are granted that privilege let alone all the dangers that accompany it: and then come through looking around a crowded court-room to be recognized for what you are.

The memoir is well-written (with help by professional writer, Mark Salter), and it deserves being #1 (which lasted only one week); but it can never equal, can only remind us of, the actual moment when she became Cassidy Hutchinson: “Hey guys, isn’t that her?” Damn right.

I don’t want to say any more about the book, except that you want to read it, but, as I write this, it just several days after Hamas attacked Israel and committed unparallleled atrocities along the way; hard to concentrate on anything else.

But one can’t obsess about one thing forever, and a week (more) having passed, I’m returning here to something about her that made me think of an unexpected conundrum along the way; which I want to consider now, to wit:

Why was Cassidy Hutchinson, as she still is or calls herself, a “Republican?”Over and over and over again, she drops in the word, almost as a talisman, at the slightest provocation, It’s two questions, really: why then? and more to the point, why now?

If I called it as it’s properly called, The Fascist Party–an appellation I heard her use for the first time on MSNBC the other night — she might object, as she does in her own words, referring to a speech by Liz Cheney that defined “the values that had attracted me to the party–universal freedom, equal justice, private initiative, limited government, a strong defense, and internationalism….I start to cry when she praises my patriotism and the audience applauds.”

And later: “I still consider myself a Republican….But if we do not restore responsible government, respect for democratic practices, and accountability for our leaders as core Republican values, I fear not only for the future of our party, but our nation.” Preceded by the usual references to Ronald Reagan, whom she knows only by the dubious accolades of persons who knew of him before she was born.

So what are or were these “values?” A personal note: in 1944 my father, a New Deal Democrat, was one of the founding members of the New York Liberal Party, which existed for two reasons: to give New Dealers a chance to vote for FDR on a ticket to the left of the GOP but to the right of American Labor Party (ALP), which competed for votes on a platform that Liberals considered to be fellow-travellling.

So in 1945, the Liberals nominated one Newbold Morris for Mayor: a Republican who ran against the Tammany Hall Democratic candidate Bill O’Dwyer -in other words, the candidate of machine corruption. A liberal Republican was better. (He lost.)

That’s the first thing that Cassidy Hutchinson might have come across in her search (at the age of 12) to find a Party that suited her. In a word, in those days the GOP was the Party of Googoos — — the Party of “Good Government.” It stood, allegedly, above the corruption of machine politics. Perhaps that wasn’t just baloney but it also, and this is the first thing we non-Republicans notice, it stood above the real needs and politics of the working class, or industrial labor.

There is no mention in her litany, nor in Liz Cheney’s, of that cohort; and certainly not in Reagan’s version of it. Nor is there any mention of civil rights, which we might call “equal justice” a carefully edited version. In other words, it is not so much what is present as what is absent in her version of being a Republican: it’s an absence that any non-Republican would immediately have noticed.

Nowadays all this might seem all-too-anachronistic, but out of such alliances were political parties born over the centuries. As for the internationalist version of Republicanism, it has indeed been disturbing to watch the slide from Republican speakers like Paul Ryan and John Boehner, who denounced attempts to challenge the election results, to the hemming and hawing of Kevin McCarthy to the full-blown anti-democratic stands of the saboteur Mike Johnson.

And it has certainly been a slide from the party of Ronald Reagan — whose “11th Commandment” was not speaking ill of other Republicans and who envisioned the party as “a big tent” to the creators, like Mike Johnson, of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which effectively authorized businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, such as Christian businesses that did not want to cater same-sex wedding celebrations. What scum, gentlemen and ladies can be.

But Cassidy Hutchinson…the last time we saw her speaking it was on the television that was playing in some restaurant or other, and what this the one-time Republican was saying, very earnestly, was: “If Donald Trump wins the election, it may be the last free election we’ll ever have.” Right on, Cassidy.

And if he doesn’t win, well then, he’s made it perfectly clear: “The Insurrection Act allows presidents to call on reserve or active-duty military units to respond to unrest in the states, an authority that is not reviewable by the courts. One of its few guardrails merely requires the president to request that the participants disperse.” Laugh laugh.

“A long, long time ago, I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile…
And they were singing, “bye, bye, Miss American Pie….”

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Philip Green

Emeritus Professor of Gov’t, Smith College, 40 years Editorial Board, The Nation, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Green_(author)