Liz Cheney’s Mom Energy

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Speaker 1: It.

Speaker 2: Hello and welcome to the Waves Slate’s podcast about gender feminism and being not mad, just disappointed. Every episode you get a new pair of feminists to talk about the thing we can’t get off our minds. And today you’ve got me. Christina Cauterucci. I’m a senior writer at Slate and host of the Slate podcast Outward.

Speaker 3: And Me Laura Miller. I’m the books and culture columnist for Slate.

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Speaker 2: This week, Laura and I are talking about Liz Cheney, the Republican congresswoman from Wyoming. If you’ve been watching the congressional hearings about the January 6th attack on the Capitol, you’ve been seeing a lot of Cheney. She is the vice chair of that committee and one of only two Republicans there. So Cheney has been at the head of this investigation that’s revealing how Donald Trump tried his very best to overturn the results of the 2020 election and hold on to presidential power. And because Liz Cheney voted to impeach Trump after the January 6th attack, Trump has endorsed her primary opponent, another Republican who’s currently leading by about 22 points in the polls. So Cheney is almost certainly going to lose her job in a few months.

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Speaker 2: This is why I’m excited to talk about her today, because it’s thrilling in a way to watch what she has been doing, because it’s just so rare to see somebody do that. Mostly when we see people in politics. You know, they are often swayed by big donors, by lobbyists, by their parties. Very often and less often, they can be moved by the feelings and opinions of their constituents. But what it seems like we’re watching when we watch Cheney is somebody who may very well be throwing away their career in elected office to do what she believes is right. Her motivation seems to be almost entirely internal. I’ll be interested to hear what you think, Laura, about whether that’s a fair interpretation of what’s going on. But you wrote a great piece in Slate about Cheney’s role on the January six committee. Why did you want to talk about her?

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Speaker 3: Well, I agree that it is impressive to see somebody who is willing to sacrifice their political career for the sake of principle, which definitely appears to be what she’s doing. And and in contrast to so many other Republicans, many of whom denounced Trump early on in his campaign or at various points in his presidency, and then just had to back down when the base came for them and they worried that that they would be on the outs.

Speaker 3: But what really fascinated me about Liz Cheney in the hearings is the way that she conducts herself, because it is so very much at odds with the way people on both sides of the political divide talk about issues. Now, she’s just kind of preternaturally calm and her manner communicates just this complete conviction that she’s right about Trump. And I think her belief that anybody can just see this if they just look at the evidence. She doesn’t get angry. She doesn’t express outrage in just an age where is is cheap.

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Speaker 3: And the main thing that she gets across to the whole country is just a profound disappointment in her fellow Republicans, the ones who continue to support Trump as well as Trump himself. And this seems just really unusually effective to me. It’s just very striking, although I don’t think I’m her intended audience, so I don’t know how it’s going down with them.

Speaker 2: Well, the January six committee is done with its first set of hearings. They’ll be holding more in the fall. So there’s a lot more Cheney to come before she will presumably leave Congress. After the break, we’ll discuss what exactly it is about Cheney’s position and how she wields it that is so compelling to some viewers, especially liberals, and what her end game might be.

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Speaker 2: We are back talking about Liz Cheney and the January 6th committee.

Speaker 3: Laura, give me.

Speaker 2: A couple of highlights from your Cheney real. You have been a very astute observer of her. What moments stick out to you when you think back on the hearings we’ve seen so far?

Speaker 3: Well, there are two moments in her opening remarks, both in the very first hearing and then the most recent hearing that I think were just moments where she just really rang a bell that just resounded through the country. And the first one, she said and it was so striking, she said, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible. There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.

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Speaker 3: So that was really remarkable because you just don’t often hear people talking about dishonor in in congressional hearings, in in such a grave way. And it it it seemed really profoundly sincere. Like she just really believes that they have completely dishonored themselves. It’s a it’s an old fashioned term. And I think that it’s a term that is more meaningful, probably to Republicans, a type of rhetoric, more meaningful to Republicans and Democrats, and very carefully chosen for that reason.

Speaker 3: And the second was the rebuttal to this pivot among Trump defenders more recently, as they’ve come to perceive that the hearings, they can just scoff the hearings away as like a kangaroo court. It’s clear that they are actually affecting how people view January six and Trump himself. And so they’ve switched from saying what happened was not really a big deal. And this is just like a liberal scheme against Trump. They’re blowing it out of proportion to saying, okay, sure, what happened was bad, but Trump wasn’t really responsible for it. He had like bad advisers. And, you know, maybe he didn’t really know what was going on, which is pretty bad in a president. But but let’s play this quote from Liz Cheney. This is a really powerful one.

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Speaker 4: President Trump is a 76 year old man. He is not an impressionable child, just like everyone else in our country. He is responsible for his own actions and his own choices. As our investigation has shown. Donald Trump had access to more detailed and specific information showing that the election was not actually stolen than almost any other American. And he was told this over and over again. No rational or sane man in his position could disregard that information and reach the opposite conclusion. And Donald Trump cannot escape responsibility by being willfully blind.

Speaker 2: She’s talking about Trump. The idea of Trump as a toddler and I feel like this has been a pretty common bit of imagery that’s been used often against Trump to say, you know, he’s just a toddler throwing a tantrum. And because it’s so rare to see somebody whose ID is like so much at the surface of who they are, in part because he’s been insulated by his privilege for his entire life. He hasn’t had to sort of develop the self-control that a lot of other people have who, you know, want to succeed in politics or business. But the way she’s referring to Trump as a toddler is she’s referring to the way Republicans, as you mentioned, are using that comparison to defend him. And when you talk about, you know, whether Trump is a child or not, you write that, you know, she she exhibits a sort of specific type of maternal vibe. Can you explain that?

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Speaker 3: We get very much the Liz Cheney just tapping into some kind of primal mother vibe here. She is. Very much like a very successful, competent woman executive, like a powerful female figure who has been called into the principal’s office because her teenage son has done something incredibly stupid and dangerous and probably illegal. And now she and the other authority figures are going to discuss what the consequences of that are going to be.

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Speaker 3: And there just isn’t even any question in her mind that he knows that what he did was wrong and that this is a very serious matter, and that it’s just exactly the vibe that she has, you know, where she’s been pulled away from doing something so much more important by this bullshit. And she has just seemed like she’s just so disappointed in him.

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Speaker 3: A lot of political figures do tap into these sort of parental longings that we have. You know, whether it’s Ronald Reagan seeming like a warm, grandfatherly storyteller or in a negative way, many people felt like Hillary Clinton was a nag, like a wife or a somehow a disempowered mom, you know, like a mom who was just like constantly looking at a cleaner room. Whereas the mom energy that Liz Cheney is tapping into here is just this moral authority that is really like a certain kind of female moral authority that, you know, we don’t often see deployed in this way in the public sphere. And, you know, I mean, I felt guilty listening to her talking about some of this behavior, you know, just instinctively.

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Speaker 2: Like as if you were the one that had attempted a coup. You’re like, is she talking to me? When I read your piece, which, by the way, listeners, you should definitely read it, it’s called Liz Cheney Isn’t Mad. She’s Disappointed on Slate.com.

Speaker 2: My initial reaction to the mom comparison was like, oh, you know, saying a woman politician reminds you of a mom is incredibly fraught because as you mentioned, you know, with your Hillary Clinton example are ideas of politicians and business leaders are so thoroughly male that oftentimes when we see a woman in a position of power, the only thing people can think of is a mom or a teacher or an ex-wife. You know, and this has been deployed to the extreme by conservatives, often in response to Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, you know, slot in your female politician here, in part because people have a hard time interpreting and internalizing female leadership without running it through the lens of these traditionally feminized roles. But I haven’t heard a lot of people discuss what it might mean to see that as a compliment.

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Speaker 3: She reminds me also when you mentioned a teacher, there’s this great sitcom called Abbott Elementary, and there’s a young teacher who’s sort of the central character and she can’t get the kids to do anything. And then there’s this older woman teacher who just all she has to do is look at the kids and they immediately fall into line. You know, she just has this authority that is kind of completely unquestioned. Like no one would dream of defying her. And it feels like that’s what Liz Cheney is tapping into and making it work to her advantage instead of fighting against it.

Speaker 3: Part of the power of her, the persona that she’s deploying, is that she is not ever losing her cool or losing her temper. And some of the impact of that comes from the fact that we are in a politics that where everyone is screaming all the time. And and in a way, it makes her seem more powerful that she is so calm.

Speaker 2: I do think there’s probably room for both, especially in a situation that is different from these hearings where it’s only people who don’t support Trump engaging in the hearings. So there’s not really any back and forth. There’s no defense, if you want to call it that. It’s like 100% prosecutorial vibe. Whereas in other situations, or especially right after the January 6th attack, I did feel like I wanted people to be reflecting my own anger and outrage. I think that there needs to be both where, you know, you mentioned that you don’t feel like you are Liz Cheney is target audience. So I’m assuming you mean she is trying to talk to Republicans. Is that is that what you mean?

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Speaker 3: Yeah. I mean, I, I think that rabid, irrational Trump supporters are the most visible to many of us. But there’s a lot of people who are Republicans. I mean, Liz Cheney herself voted for Trump. There are a lot of people who sort of feel like, well, to get the. Policies or the judges or all these other things we wanted. We have to sort of have this imperfect vehicle of this guy and he is like rough around the edges.

Speaker 3: And he does, you know, a lot of the things that like the Trump fan loves, I think there are people who voted for him who don’t like those things, who didn’t like how he behaved on Twitter, who thought he was unpresidential, but who basically because they generally supported the other policies of the Republican Party, sort of just kind of grit their teeth and and voted for him, you know? And that is who I think she’s speaking to. She’s speaking to the kind of Republicans for whom the term dishonor is still meaningful. What she’s trying to say to them is he just went too far. And you can’t, as people of conscience, continue to sort of excuse that or say, oh, I wish he wouldn’t do that, that this was just too much.

Speaker 2: She is modeling behavior like a like a good teacher or authority figure where, you know, you can’t be it if you can’t see it. So somebody might look at her and, and see an example of like, okay, I can still be an extremely conservative Republican and disapprove of everything that Trump has done.

Speaker 1: Okay.

Speaker 2: We’re going to take a break here. But listeners, if you want to hear more from Laura and me on another topic or related topic, check out our Slate Plus segment. Today, we’re talking about the saintly images of Cassidy Hutchinson at the most explosive witness in the January 6th hearings. Now that we’ve talked about Cheney on the committee, I want to talk about the love that certain Democrats have for her and whether that might be part of her eventual goal.

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Speaker 2: So Democrats have been telling members of the press that they want to see her run for president. These are Democratic voters. I don’t know that any anybody in Democratic leadership feels this way, but it’s been interesting to watch, because for progressives and for those of us who were politically cognizant during the George W Bush administration, even the word Cheney is enough to, you know, send chills up our spine.

Speaker 2: But people love a redemption narrative. People love to believe that others are capable of change, especially people who are on the other side of the political spectrum. You see this in what I have come to see as the sort of fetishization of the Lincoln Project, these, you know, NeverTrump Republicans who have been making viral ads opposing Trump. It’s almost more exciting, I think, for a certain segment of Democrats to see Republicans oppose Trump than it is to see Democrats oppose Trump because, of course, they do.

Speaker 2: Meanwhile, a study of the Lincoln Project’s ads showed that the more of the more viral an ad was probably because it appealed to liberals, the less it was able to sort of convince a swing state voter to reconsider their support for Trump. I’m a little skeptical of the ability of this these sort of Republicans who have changed their mind about Trump to convince other people to do the same. But I’m curious how you’ve interpreted the Democratic excitement for Liz Cheney as a little Trump switcheroo.

Speaker 3: I really think that there’s a divide in the Republican Party between a a sort of chamber of commerce, pro-corporate, 1% ish Republican, who basically just wants no taxes and no restraints on on corporate behavior and a sort of cultural conservative working class base that has been just whipped up into a frenzy about gun control and and gays and abortion and and all of these other issues. It’s a weird coalition of people who don’t actually have that many interests in common.

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Speaker 3: And I think that the Republican Party is sort of sport, you know, that that that coalition is sort of fragmenting. And people like Cheney want to sort of pull back to a, you know, a kind of Mitt Romney ish versus version of Republicanism. That’s that’s, you know, stays inside the the institutional mores and all and and standards, but still pursues certain kinds of policies that you and I would deplore.

Speaker 3: And then this sort of weird cult of personality and culture, war stuff, I just I feel like this this way that they they used to get votes, you know, votes to get their candidates into office, whipping up all of this culture war stuff. It’s just come back to bite them in the ass. And so she’s just trying to reestablish that old establishment form of Republicanism. I have no idea whether she’ll succeed or not.

Speaker 2: I think there’s more overlap between the two types of Republicans you’re describing than initially meets the eye. And I also think there’s kind of a middle ground which this group of voters who are wealthy but don’t have a college education sort of came out as a demographic that was extremely anti-Trump. And I think people like that sort of bridged the gap between what you’re talking about, sort of like the working class, extremely motivated by guns and abortions and the 1%.

Speaker 2: I have a yacht and I don’t want to be taxed on it people. And I just want to, for the record, in case of our listeners aren’t aware, like Liz Cheney voted with Trump 93% of the time when he was in office. You know, she voted for abortion restrictions. She voted to fund the border wall, supported the Trump tax cuts, obviously voted against the for the people voting rights bill. Like she’s a Republican and supports pretty much everything Republicans do except for the stealing of the election. And she opposed gay marriage even though her own sister is gay, married until very, very recently. And of course, she’s really into the use of torture. So I challenged the Democrats who have been talking about her as a potential presidential candidate that they would vote for, to actually think about all the things the president has to do besides not try to steal the election when they’re voted out of office.

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Speaker 3: But wait, do they want her to run because they want to vote for her, or do they just want her to run because they don’t want politics to be as insane? As it was before. I mean, that’s those are two different things.

Speaker 2: Like they want her to be the Republican candidate that they can vote against.

Speaker 3: Exactly. Yeah. Just I mean, I agree there’s many reasons to be terrified of of a Liz Cheney presidency, but it’s not as terrifying as Trump because he’s not going to turn us into a banana republic. I mean, she’s not going to turn us into a banana republic.

Speaker 2: This gets at what I think is very soothing about Liz Cheney to a lot of Democrats, which is that it’s really scary to look at the Republican Party as it is scary things have happened. The the fact that Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, for one thing, and then won the presidency. The fact that Ron DeSantis now seems like a possible challenger to him and that, you know, we’re replacing an incompetent authoritarian with possibly a competent one. That’s all very scary.

Speaker 2: And I think to look at Liz Cheney is to envision a more hopeful future. I just don’t think that future is plausible. I mean, it is so dispiriting to look at the Republican Party’s rot and the fact that it’s seems to be motivated now by cruelty and greed and petty grievances, racism and sexism, religious dogma. The fact that in 2020 the Republican Party just decided not to adopt an actual party platform. Instead they just said, you know, we support what Trump wants to do. A party with no serious intellectual grounding and with a set of quote unquote values that go against what many of us believe to be the foundation of the country. Like, that’s frightening. And so I think while it’s exciting to look at Liz Cheney and think about maybe this is a way that the Republican Party could redeem itself. I mean, I just don’t think that’s going to happen.

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Speaker 3: Well, certainly not now. I don’t think she has a lot of support now. But I think she’s this is just kind of like a Hail Mary move on her part, you know, that she just she just wants to to try to save it, you know, and maybe it won’t happen right away. Maybe, you know, the party will be torn apart between Trump and Pants and DeSantis. I mean, I actually think the hearings have been effective and and in and sort of splitting off some possible Trump supporters to other candidates. And it’s clear that Pence is being set up as like the good guy in the whole thing. And they’re oh, my.

Speaker 2: Gosh.

Speaker 3: I know. And there have been there have been other, you know, sort of moves made to suggest that, you know, Pence is seen as the preferred candidate just because he’s just so much more predictable. And Trump was a disaster even for Republicans in some ways, because he’s just so manageable. He doesn’t actually care about the Republican Party at all. I mean, only cares about himself. So. And and who really wants to deal with more of that? So, you know, who knows? Maybe the the whole thing will kind of become balkanized, but then ultimately reform around some sort of core that she can believe in again.

Speaker 2: Before we head out, we have some recommendations for listeners. Laura, what are you loving right now?

Speaker 3: A book that I read recently that I really appreciated a lot is called Trailed by Kathryn Miles. It is true crime because I am a true crime junkie, but I also understand the distaste many people have for the genre and I really hate the sort of whine and wisecrack podcast approach to the genre just feels really ghoulish and tacky to me.

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Speaker 3: But this is a beautifully, deeply reported, well-written investigation of the murder of two young women backpackers in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. The thing that I love about it is the crime is unsolved, and the lives of these two women who are a couple are so richly and beautifully developed. You really feel the tragedy of of their murder.

Speaker 3: And it also sort of brings to light the issue of national parks, the dilemma of outdoors women, you know, women hikers, women, backpackers, who ought to have the freedom to use the parks like anyone else, but who are subject to all different kinds of singling out from harassment to actual assault and how poorly the parks themselves cope with with these crimes or just, you know, providing safety for for women in national parks.

Speaker 3: It’s a really sensitive and beautifully written book. And I just I love it. It’s just the story of these two really unusual women. You know, they both came from really particular backgrounds, and this was in 1996. So, you know, they were sort of out a little bit, but not necessarily to everybody. And, you know, one came from a religious family. One came from a very rich family. It just they felt like characters in a novel to me. And it was just a wonderful read.

Speaker 2: Wow, that sounds extremely good. And I love Shenandoah National Park.

Speaker 2: I have kind of a strange for me recommendation. It’s going to be a recipe. So I have been a part of two meal trains recently. I had two friends who had babies. And so, you know, people set up a little schedule where we could all volunteer to bring them food. And I made the same salad dressing for a kale Caesar salad for both of these people that I was cooking for. Both people came back with big compliments for the salad dressing. You know, I made a whole last lasagna for one of them, and the compliment was for the salad dressing. Fine. So I’m going to just go ahead and recommend it here. I have made Caesar salad dressing before with a blender and the egg yolks. And, you know, this doesn’t involve either of those things. It makes it about 50% simpler and it’s just as good.

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Speaker 2: The name of the food blog. I find that food blogs always have titles that are super cheesy and embarrassing to say. So this one is called Once Upon a Chef. That’s the name of the blog. It’s just homemade Caesar salad dressing. It is addictive. It’s so good. When I make it, I. It calls for a cup of mayonnaise. I replace half of it with plain Greek yogurt, which I find gives it a really nice tang. And I find that there’s just something about homemade salad dressing. It’s always better than bottled, and this makes it really easy to do. It also works as a dip. I’ve even been spreading it on toast with fresh tomatoes. If you’re a big tomato stand like I am at the you know, this is our season to shine. So I highly recommend the Caesar salad dressing on toast on a salad wherever you feel again it’s the blog is once upon a chef homemade Caesar salad dressing.

Speaker 1: That’s it.

Speaker 2: That’s our show for this week. The Waves is produced by Shayna Roth Shannon Policies.

Speaker 3: Our editorial director Alicia montgomery is vice president of audio and Daisy Rosario is senior supervising producer of audio.

Speaker 2: As always, we’d love to hear from you. You can email us at the waves at Slate.com.

Speaker 3: The waves will be back next week. Different hosts, different topics, same time and place.

Speaker 2: Thank you so much for being a Slate Plus member. Since you are a member, you get a weekly bonus segment. This week we’re talking about Cassidy Hutchinson, the 25 year old former aide to Trump, chief of staff Mark Meadows, who gave some of the most, let’s say, vivid testimony of the January six hearings. Hutchinson is the one who said she saw ketchup dripping down the wall after Trump threw his plate in a temper tantrum. She also said she’d heard that on January 6th, Trump tried to grab the steering wheel from a Secret Service agent to try to get to the Capitol to join the rioters. Laura, we’ve talked they’re just the two of us about how the press depicted Hutchinson. Give us your take on some of the images that came out of that hearing.

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Speaker 3: When I wrote my piece about the hearings, I rewatched them because there was something about the way Cassidy Hutchinson was positioned and filmed that seemed different from the way the other witnesses were presented. And it did seem to be the case when I rewatched them that she was maybe moved closer to the days or in some way position, so that when she looked at the committee members, when she was giving her answers, they were much higher up. So she appeared to be looking up at them as opposed to looking straight ahead.

Speaker 3: And if you go and do a Google image search of Cassidy Hutchinson, you will see many, many pictures where she looks very solemn and her eyes are turned almost heavenward. And she and she seems to be like a supplicant or even like she’s she’s praying. It’s a really remarkable difference from from how the other witnesses looked. And I’m going to put this on James Goldston, that the the TV executives helped produce these hearings.

Speaker 3: Her problem, Hutchinson’s problem, is that she’s young, she’s pretty, she’s well-dressed. These are all qualities that while they are, you know, they’re positive, can also just galvanize a lot of negative sentiment, especially if in a woman who is challenging the reputations of powerful older men. So this way that her eyes are sort of looking upward as if she were looking at a crucifix above an altar. It really stresses her humility and her solemnity. She’s you know, she’s not an uppity millennial complaining about the workplace. She has nothing but respect for the, you know, the older people on the committee and the American institutions that they represent. And even though nothing in her testimony makes her seem particularly religious or pious, we don’t even know what her religion is.

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Speaker 3: Everything about the way she was presented just emphasized her reverence for authority, figures and institutions and the presidency itself. And I thought it was brilliant. And you still see a lot of stills of her where she literally looks like a saint or somebody praying at an altar. It’s really striking.

Speaker 2: I looked through some of those images and I suspect that she was also wearing false eyelashes. That’s what it looked like to me, which I think also contributed to this this look of, you know, wide eyed virtue and penitence.

Speaker 3: Yeah, penitence is a good one. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2: I feel like this is another case where those of us who believe Donald Trump was not great for the country are, you know, grateful to Hutchinson for her testimony, not least because it puts her right in the crosshairs of the mainstream Republican leaders who she might want to work with someday, and also right wing militias who are paying close attention to who’s crossing Donald Trump.

Speaker 2: And I agree with you that I think it was, you know, no matter who the audience was, whether it’s sort of centrist like or never trump Republicans or Democrats, it was smart. The, you know, bit of stagecraft was smart in terms of making somebody who signed on to be part of the Trump administration, who was probably pretty damn excited about who he was and what he meant for the country. Otherwise, she might have picked a better job with better hours and better pay to make her seem like, wow, even somebody like that is disturbed by what he’s done and is, you know, putting her livelihood and maybe her life on the line to speak truth to this power.

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Speaker 2: You know, almost giving Republicans a way out to show them you don’t have to deny the results of the presidential election to. It will be respectable and conservative Republican.

Speaker 2: I think Liz Cheney also took a specific interest in Hutchinson and the other young women who testified, because these are people who she probably sees as possible like mentee is, at the very least, her ideological peers and people who, you know, if she is to chart a career outside of Congress, these are people who she might like to have on her side.

Speaker 3: In her sort of nurturing, encouraging support of Hutchinson. She’s also, again, channeling that powerful mom energy, assuring Hutchinson also that she has a place. You know, I think a lot of the people who work and in Trumpworld sort of have this feeling of like if they are cast out of Trump world, there’s nothing left for them. And, you know, part of the message that the committee is communicating is that there is a Republican Party outside of Trump and that, you know, somebody like Hutchinson who’s really willing to risk everything that she risked. And that includes defying a phone call from some representative of Trump, telling her that she needs to be loyal to him. You know, somebody like that needs to be reassured that that there’s a place for them.

Speaker 2: I also found it notable that she wore white, a white blazer and white nail polish, which a lot of people were comparing to the white pantsuit that Hillary Clinton wore when she accepted the Democratic nomination in 2016. The women in Congress who wore white during Trump’s State of the Union in 2019. It’s the color of suffragists. It’s been taken as a symbol of feminism and resistance to Trump.

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Speaker 2: And I think Cassidy Hutchinson is an example of how that’s not the case anymore. I mean, you see a lot of women in politics wearing white Republicans, too. I have been following Lisa murkowski’s reelection campaign in Alaska and the woman who’s challenging her from the right, the candidate endorsed by Trump, Kelly Shibata, wore a white outfit at her rally with Trump recently. It’s just like a bold, undeniable color. You’re the center of attention. It signals purity, obviously, which is a fraught concept and a useful one, maybe when you’re talking about women in politics. Why do you think she wore white or was advised to wear white?

Speaker 3: I mean, I really doubt that there was a sort of feminist import in that particular choice. I think that what we are meant to see, suggested by her is sort of anyone’s daughter who got a really good job. And then the boss turned out to be a maniac. And, you know, she’s a good girl. I think that’s what we’re supposed to see, like. She’s respectful. She’s very quiet in a way. You know, she’s not a she’s not brassy, she’s not sexy. You know, she’s just a good girl who just got into the situation.

Speaker 3: And I think both older people can say, oh, what if that was my daughter? And then this man is throwing ketchup at the wall and, you know, and not caring about, you know, arm an armed mob and what if she had been hurt? And then also, I think younger people look at her and they say, well, that could be me. You know, my first real serious, real job.

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Speaker 3: Here’s my chance. I’m working in the White House, you know, and then like these men were constantly telling her to do things that weren’t her job and and her boss was, like, on his phone all the time in the middle of a crisis and not doing what it was supposed to do. It was meant to make her relatable. It was almost white as a kind of blank rather than white filled with meaning.

Speaker 2: Yeah, I think it also well, obviously it signifies innocence, which is what members of the Trump administration who are now testifying against him want to project. Because, you know, they were right with him throughout all of this and perhaps supported him up until the very line of wanting to join the mob at the Capitol. So I think, you know, people like her are probably also thinking about her. How am I going to be accepted into a politics that is not connected to Trump in the future? You know, if someday, if he does get convicted or if the Republican Party truly just dies. So he dies.

Speaker 3: He’s not is not a particularly healthy guy. Yeah. I mean, definitely she’s probably also playing the long game, but I think probably very much under the wing of Liz Cheney, who’s probably saying, look, Donald Trump won’t always be around. So let’s start planning for what we’re going to. Do when he’s gone because he won’t always be here and. And I can help you.

Speaker 3: My favorite Cassidy Hutchinson, though, is the testimony that’s videotaped where she’s just sitting on the sofa next to a bottle of hand sanitizer. And she has like her hair is kind of twisted up with like a pencil and she’s wearing this sort of blue blazer. She’s describing what she can remember of this insane, you know, three or four day period leading up to and including the this insurrection. And she’s just a girl. She’s just a girl who worked in an office that went totally crazy.

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Speaker 2: But she knew it was Trump’s office.

Speaker 3: I know, I know. But that’s how she comes across. Like sort of like her less formal presentation is also weirdly sympathetic to me. I mean, no, she’s she is also not a toddler, an impressionable, impressionable toddler. And so, you know, she is certainly responsible for taking this job. Or maybe she I don’t even know how she got the job. So I’m not even going to speculate about what she thought she was getting into. But she just seems like someone who was completely in over her head and who actually is probably a very competent employee. But she was in, you know, crazy land and and just scrabbling to cope with it and her hair and the little the her hair and with in the bun, with the the pencil or or chopstick or whatever comes through, it just seems to epitomize, you know, how discombobulated she was by the whole thing.

Speaker 2: Listeners, we’d love to hear your thoughts on Hutchinson, on Liz Cheney, and if there’s a topic you want us to cover on Slate. Plus, we’d love to hear from you as always. Email us at the waves at Slate.com.