… or, rather, listen to Caesar angrily and petulantly demand to be given a whole lot of things that don’t belong to him at all. Damn, but that Caesar is an aggravating prick.
The Washington Post published the full recording and transcript of the call Caligula made on Saturday to the Georgia secretary of state. The full recording. I listened to every minute.
To say that I found this conversation extraordinary is inaccurate and a serious understatement. To call this a conversation is equally inaccurate. Yes, this is an hour-long recording (just over an hour and two minutes, to be exact). It’s a lot to listen to, but I recommend listening. It’s fascinating in a horrifying kind of way, fascinating in an infuriating kind of way. This is the most I have listened to Caligula in a long time, and it’s a good reminder of why I haven’t spent a lot of time listening to him.
Things that struck me:
- It’s eerie to hear the desperation in Caligula’s petulant blustering.
- It’s amazing to hear Caligula offer up as proof of his election win the numbers of people who came to his campaign rallies — including rallies that haven’t happened yet.
- Even though the people on his side of the call are all there to support his bullshit, Caligula can’t let them speak for more than a minute. And, in the case of Cleta Mitchell, he repeatedly slaps her down, no matter what she is trying to say to support him.
- WaPo makes a point of bleeping out the name of “an individual about whom the president makes unsubstantiated allegations” … but has no trouble leaving in Stacey Abrams’ name when Caligula makes plenty of unsubstantiated allegations against her. WTF? Caligula actually says at one point that he ran against Abrams. Said he “only ran against her once,” in reference to his endorsement of Brian Kemp. Double-WTF?
- For some reason, some really hard to understand reason, Caligula takes pains to point out Ryan Germany’s last name, to call out what a nice last name he has. Please make it make sense.
- Brad Raffensperger and Ryan Germany are really, really, really good at biting their tongues. They sit through a crazypants “tallying” of numbers from Caligula, listen to him say over and over that he won Georgia and won it “very substantially” … and not only do they say nothing, they neither sigh with loud exasperation nor explode with laughter. Instead, Raffensperger is able to say, without a hint of a chuckle in his voice, “We don’t agree that you have won.” So calm and collected … as if he had the cool breeze of FACTS washing over him.
- Brad Raffensperger offers up the best response I’ve ever heard to bullshit. “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.”
- Outrageous to hear Kurt Hilbert, one of the lawyers with Caligula, talk about how annoying it is that Raffensperger’s office hasn’t handed over data that’s been requested, saying that “if the information is not forthcoming, there’s something to hide” … saying all of that after Caligula’s people made a sideshow attraction of not turning over information that was requested from them during the impeachment proceedings.
Listening to Caligula is morbidly fascinating.
- “We have all the votes we need. You know, we won the state.”
- “It’s just not possible to have lost Georgia. It’s not possible.”
- “We have won this election in Georgia.”
- “It can’t be disputed.”
- “I don’t need the link [Raffensberger offers of share a link to a video that clarifies a question Caligula keeps asking]. I have a better link.”
- “You’d have to be a child to believe that.”
- “I won this election by hundreds of thousands of votes.”
- “Stacey is as dishonest as they come.”
- “Fulton County is totally corrupt. As she is totally corrupt.”
- “We can go through signature verification, and we’ll find hundreds of thousands of signatures if you let us do it.”
- “You know that. You know that. You have no doubt about that.”
- “In my opinion, based on what I’ve heard.”
- “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”
- “We need only 11,000 votes. We have far more than that. We’ll have more and more.”
- “Look, Brad. I’ve gotta get — I have to find 12,000 votes, and I have them times … a lot. And, therefore, I won the state.”
- “So what are we gonna do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas. I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”
- “Brad, what are we gonna do? We won the election, and it’s not fair to take it away from us like this.”
- “Look, ultimately, I win.”
- “It’s very simple. We won the election.”
- “The real truth is that I won by 400,000 votes. At least.”
Caligula sounds tired and frustrated. At times he sounds whiny. He sounds annoyed that he is having to do this work when others should have done it for him already — Powell, Giuliani, the Supreme Court. And he clearly believes if he says something, that thing should automatically be seen as true. He seems surprised when Raffensperger and Germany don’t just go along with everything he throws at them.
You’ll notice that I included several instances of Caligula claiming victory. It probably seems repetitive. Just know that I only transcribed a few of those statements. He says it throughout the hour-long call. It’s as if he’s attempting some kind of neuro-linguistic programming, that if he tells Raffensperger that he’s won — and keeps telling him — that Raffensperger will begin to believe it and will throw out the actual election results and claim victory for Caesar. Ugh.
None of this is surprising … and all of this is surprising. The only thing I’m grateful for in listening to this call is that creepshow vaudevillian Rudy wasn’t in attendance. I shudder at the thought. Every day of this presidency has been a new day for me to discover just how unendingly naïve I am, how absolutely I’ve been walking around with my rose-tinted glasses, a little of the color coating being worn away at a time, but still enough shading there for me to be ever and always surprised by the venal evil that occupies the oval office.
Two and a half weeks. In theory, that’s how long we have left to deal with Caligula in his current role. Still plenty of time for him to shock and horrify me. Plenty of time for him to find another way to stage a coup. Plenty of time for him to activate the violent thugs he ordered to “stand by” a couple of months ago.
I’m trying to breathe deeply, but my chest is so tight.
I can’t stop reading about this call. I mean, I did say “morbid fascination” … In another WaPo piece, there’s an excellent quote from Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University:
“He was already tripping the emergency meter,” Foley said. “So we were at 12 on a scale of 1 to 10, and now we’re at 15.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-georgia-vote/2021/01/03/d45acb92-4dc4-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html?utm_source=pocket-newtab
If it weren’t so alarming, this would all be comedy gold.
In 2017, I took up Vanessa Mártir’s #52essays2017 challenge to write an essay a week. I didn’t complete 52 essays by year’s end, but I did write like crazy, more in 2017 than in 2015 and 2016 combined! I’ve kept working on personal essays, kept at my #GriotGrind. If you’d care to join, it’s never too late! Find the group on FB: #52Essays Next Wave.