The second impeachment trial of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber ended on an incredibly sour note. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, is happy with the ending of the trial. Even though, there were a number of things to be happy about. Here let’s count them:
- The number of Repube votes for conviction was surprisingly high, but still, predictably, short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict
- It is the most bipartisan vote for impeachment and conviction in the history of the country with approximately 17% of the GOP voting against the Ol’ Pussy Grabber
- The House Trial Managers put on a masterful display of evidence proving Trump’s guilt
- The video that the House Managers used and their oration were emotionally intense and immensely gratifying
- Over 52% of the population believes Trump should’ve been convicted
- MqQonnell says he’s guilty even though he voted to acquit
- The defense lawyers put on a master class of ineptness and ineffectiveness that defies explanation
- The Ol’ Pussy Grabber is being investigated for criminal charges in multiple state and federal jurisdictions
- The 2022 campaign commercials have practically written themselves
The list of things that we can be happy about with the trial goes on and on. The one thing that you might expect could be upsetting about the outcome — acquittal — was expected. So, why are so many people just gnashing their teeth, scraping their boils, and rending the clothes over it all?
While several psychological findings explain our disappointment and emotional confusion with the ending of the impeachment trial, none do it better than the peak-end experience.
Peak-end experience is Daniel Kahneman’s conjecture that the degree that we like an event or how positively or negatively we remember an event being is based on two factors: the most emotionally intense moment of the event and how we felt at the end of the event. Thus, the name, peak-end experience.
Kahneman arrived at his formulation by studying people’s experience of their colonoscopies — a singularly unpleasant event. He used a variety of measurements and a surprisingly large sample (over 600 participants). Here’s what he did:
- Every 60 seconds, he had his participants rate the pain they were experiencing on an eleven-point scale (0 to 10).
- Rate the entire experience
- Compare the experience to other unpleasant events
- Rate their memory of the experience some time after it ended
He found that the best predictor of their rating of the memory of the colonoscopy was an average of the most intense moments of pain during the procedure and the average of the pain experienced during the last three minutes. He tested the prediction by convincing a second set of colonoscopy patients to participate in a similar study. Unbeknownst to them, though, half of them were randomly selected to have the colonoscope left in their rectum for an extra unnecessary minute. While it wouldn’t produce any intense pain, it would be an extra minute of discomfort.
Because it was part of the average of the last three minutes, it should bring that average down — no painful movements of the wand were made. So it should make their memory of the procedure less terrible, and it did.
The Peak-End Experience of the Impeachment Trial
I don’t know about you, but I found the impeachment trial to be an emotionally intense event. All of those video tape montages of Trump’s Insurrection Riot just left me grieving but enthralled. Everyone of the Impeachment Managers orations left me grateful and proud. Hearing the descriptions of the Repubes reactions to the videotaped evidence left me hopeful. In an odd way, I enjoyed it. I guess it was similar to what BDSM is like — not that I’d have any direct knowledge of anything like that or anything.
It was great fun to listen to the pontificating pontificators on all the pontification cable shows pontificate on how wonderful the House Impeachment Managers did and how bumbling and foolish the defense lawyers seemed. I’ll never forget the derisive laughter that rained down on van der Veen when he threatened to call Nancy Pelosi to his Phily-adelphia office for a deposition. Comedy gold, amirite?
The most emotionally intense moments were the opening montage of the riot and the radio calls of the capitol police pleading for help as they’re being overrun. They both left me sad and angry and their effectiveness left me feeling a wee bit hopeful. Who couldn’t feel empathy for the police in that situation? Who couldn’t feel outrage at watching these jackasses rampage through the capitol at the behest and direction of people who had planned on the moment?
Please leave a comment about what you found most intense during the trial. We would love to hear from you.
As the trial was winding up, we were expecting the Repubes to vote mostly as a block for acquittal making it impossible to reach the two-thirds majority needed for conviction. We also knew that MqQonnell was teasing us with possibilities of voting to convict, but anyone who thought about it knew that to get 17 Repubes to vote for conviction would need some hard whipping of the vote by somebody and that somebody weren’t no MqQonnell.
Then, the witness fiasco happened. I say fiasco not because there is a solid case for witnesses or against but because of what it did to our expectations and emotions. As information became known about Rep Jaime Herrera-Beutler’s conversation with Kevin MqQarthy about his phone call with the Ol’ Pussy Grabber during the insurrection riot, a big push for witnesses developed on social media — it is doubtful whether that had any effect on the Impeachment Managers, though.
And, then, on Saturday morning there they were calling for witnesses with all the panicking threats of calling a 100, no 300, no 1,000, no 5,000 witnesses by the Trump side threatening to drag this thing out for years. We were all hopeful that witnesses would be called. Visions of MqQarthy and Pence squirming in the witness chair forced to tell us all that the Ol’ Pussy Grabber incited the riot were dancing in our heads. This could be the moment that snaps the Repubes back to reality or at least 17 of them.
And, then, just as quickly, it all died. Amid a clatter of confusion and contrary speculation by pundits everywhere and backroom meetings sans cigars and bourbon a deal was struck that struck witnesses all together. And, millions of resisters were crestfallen.
The vote was a disappointing wimper. We all left heads down, mouths drawn feeling like opportunities were missed and not quite sure what had just happened.
Now, when we look back at the trial, instead of one glorious transcendent moment when we proved to the world what anti-democratic authoritarians the Repubes were when we went down fighting the good fight, all we have is this feeling of dis-ease and uncertainty. Something bad seems to have happened. It is that peak-end experience at work.
We will always remember the the impeachment trial as being disappointing and with a nagging feeling that it could’ve gone better. It is too bad since the House Impeachment Managers did such a wonderful job prosecuting the case and we got SEVEN Repubes to vote for conviction. SEVEN. It’s never been done before.
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Categories: Cognitive Psychology