What made her so compelling? Maybe it was the English accent. Or maybe it was the typically English command of language, the preternatural calm, the vast intelligence, and the mastery of subject matter. Maybe it was the very British way in which she dismissed the pratfalls of Sondland, Giuliani and the rest as the witless performance of “a domestic political errand”, something to be scorned, as opposed to the important and deadly serious national security policy she and her fellow career professionals were conducting. Or maybe it was this poke in the eye she delivered to Devin Nunes and his conspiracy-addled buddies in the GOP:
Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country – and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves...Right now, Russia’s Security Services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. We’re running out of time to stop them. In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.
Let’s just tick “all of the above”. In her testimony yesterday, Fiona Hill – that’s Doctor Hill to you – deployed her fool-killing club (the big one with the spike embedded at the tip) and gave it to the stunned, bug-eyed Republicans in just the worst way. By the end of it they wouldn’t even ask questions. Some yielded their time. Some mumbled about the Steele Dossier. Nunes looked like he was about to break out sobbing.
The crew of MSNBC pundits, formidable lawyers like Frank Figliuzzi, Barb McQuade, Chuck Rosenberg and Maya Wiley, with many decades of combined experience under their belts, were inclined to the view that Hill was the most impressive witness they’d ever seen, in any setting, bar none. My beloved Nicole Wallace, who mused whether it was going to take a dead Russian hooker at the bottom of the Hudson to stir the Republicans from their Trump Torpor, was succinct:
Today’s favourite Twitter game of “imagine if” asks those of us starved for competent American governance to imagine what sort of world it would be if Doctor Hill was Secretary of State, instead of that miserable coward Mike Pompeo. I try not to indulge in this sort of painful counterfactual fantasizing, which pushes my current stock of antidepressants beyond what they can plausibly mitigate, but it’s hard, isn’t it? How to quell the deadly hope inspired by the likes of Taylor, Vindman and Hill? If the impeachment testimony over the past couple of weeks has shown anything, it’s that the much maligned Deep State remains stuffed to bursting with brilliant career civil servants of unimpeachable integrity, whose talents might, in a more sensible world, be exploited to the constant vexation of the western world’s enemies.
For now, despite the obvious disdain with which they’re treated by the GOP and its ridiculous President, apparently in the belief that subject matter expertise is the trait of elitist liberal scum, the very best still soldier on in service of the tattered dream that was America. One wonders whether in the coming years, after all this Republican abuse, their ranks will continue to be replenished by quality recruits. Public service just isn’t what it used to be, and the mood over at Foggy Bottom these days must be about as buoyant as the British Army’s after the first day of the Somme. Enthusiasm, dedication, and moral courage are infectious, it’s true. So is despair.
Never mind. Let’s leave the crying for later. For now, let’s revel in the simple fact that people like Fiona Hill exist, and dream of a time when she and her ilk, women like Sally Yates, Katie Porter, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, might yet combine their efforts to rescue us from all of this old, white, quintessentially male folly.
Meanwhile, we can cast the movie. I figure Kristen Scott Thomas for Hill.