Enough Is Enough
Another memoir from a young American—wow!
Enough, by Cassidy Hutchinson, Simon & Scheuster, 384 pages
How young is too young to write a memoir? It’s an uncomfortable question, even for those with modest self-regard. A few weeks ago, I discovered a ruled notebook in my basement containing notes toward a life of myself, begun and quickly discarded sometime midway through tenth grade. It included a list of the greatest films ever made, impressions of a week spent in Norway, and a few indecipherable paragraphs on the problem of evil. I was too young then for autobiography. I probably always will be. There are few episodes in my life I dare repeat without a little embarrassment.
Cassidy Hutchinson does not share my cast of mind. Granted, the former White House staff assistant has more life experience (she is nearly two years older than me) and works in an industry where embarrassment is a foreign concept. She also happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, working as a glorified secretary for Mark Meadows in the panicked final weeks of the Trump administration. It is those days that are the subject of Enough, Hutchinson’s part-memoir, part-tell-all (and all-career move) which was released this week and occasioned yet another round of January 6 news hits for the erstwhile Republican.
You don’t even need to open Enough to understand this book. It is an object meant to be brandished. The front cover depicts nothing but Hutchinson’s stern face, airbrushed so as to look dead-eyed and impassive. I imagine this is meant to confer a certain gravity on her youth. It’s Don DeLillo’s old rule: The most convincing characters are those who adopt a certain air of unhealthy excess—better to intimate dignity, significance, and prestige.
The blurbs explain everything else. Liz Cheney raves that Hutchinson’s bravery and patriotism are “awesome to behold. Little girls all across this great nation are seeing what it really means to love this country and what it really means to be a patriot.” Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post calls her “John Dean in a white blazer and diamond necklace, reciting a similarly damning cavalcade of facts...An American heroine.”
Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal takes a more measured approach, saying nothing of Hutchinson’s own character, instead drawing a subliminal comparison between the January 6 Committee’s star witness and, say, Charlotte Corday. “Here [Cassidy Hutchinson] was, all by herself, twenty-five years old, in front of the whole country,” Noonan writes. “In the scheme of things, she’s nobody. And yet such people can upend empires.”
Would that it were so: That would be an entertaining book. But the sad fact of Enough is that, like so many other Trump-era tell-alls, it is little more than a catalog of bad taste assembled with bad art. Five years ago, these books were entertaining—remember Fire and Fury?—but now they all blur together. Is it really a revelation that Mark Meadows, a Bible-believing Christian, chugged three and half White Claws one stressful day in November 2020? Is it really any surprise that he indulged in a little gallows humor after Herman Cain’s death? Does anyone really care whether Hutchinson dated—or did not date—Rep. Matt Gaetz?
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I should add that, at nearly 400 pages, too many of which contain tales of growing up in New Jersey, the book is too long to have received significant editorial direction. Not that it matters. It will be piled up along with all the other political memoirs in the carts outside Dupont Circle this time next year.
Hutchinson fell into the same trap in which so many other young Washingtonian transplants have ensnared themselves in the past few decades. She was a star on daytime cable news for a few days and mistook her walk-on part for a lead role. She cast herself as a young heroine and now she’ll be condemned to play that part all her life. Just look at John Dean. Eighty-four years old and he’s still playing a disaffected Nixon lawyer on nightly television. Poor guy. And that’s the best case scenario. The more likely possibility is an inescapable consignment to the same, ever more tiresome public image, until, at last there is no image left at all. Hutchinson is already outliving her usefulness. Soon she joins the ranks of the other young has-beens—David Hogg, Miles Taylor, Madison Cawthorn, and untold others.
“One after another various specimens swim towards us,” Evelyn Waugh once remarked. “We see them clearly, then with a barely perceptible flick of fin or a tail they are off into the murk.”