Please excuse today’s title. I use a headline analyzer on this blog, which turns green when I come up with a “good” title for SEO purposes. I probably ought to ditch that particular blogging tool, because I think a lot of the headlines it thinks are “good” are actually crappy. Like, yesterday’s title, which is literally what the post was about, got a “yellow” rating rather than green. But I think yesterday’s title is better than today’s, because what you read is what you get. On the other hand, maybe the tool is pushing me to write cryptic titles for my blog posts.
I’m writing today’s post because I can’t stop thinking about Cassidy Hutchinson’s book, Enough. It’s not because I think it was a great book. I’ve read much better books. I’ve also read much worse books. It’s not the writing or even the basic story that has me so intrigued. I think it’s the bizarre phenomenon that propelled Cassidy Hutchinson into the position she’s in today that has me ruminating on her book.
I mentioned in yesterday’s review that I think Cassidy Hutchinson has some “daddy issues”. I believe part of the reason she fell into the MAGA movement is because she was seeking a connection with her father. I also think she might want to work on that with a psychotherapist.
I don’t mean to sound condescending, because I know my suggestion that Cassidy seek therapy probably comes off that way. I also want to make it clear that there is absolutely NO shame in seeking therapy. I’ve done it. Bill is doing it. It’s been absolutely life changing for Bill, and when I did it years ago, it was life changing for me, too. In my case, therapy helped me recognize and treat lifelong depression, which I now know is a genetic issue. I know this because I know others in my family have struggled with depression, and 23andMe even verifies that I’m at a higher risk of depression. In Bill’s case, therapy has helped him explore who he is, and ease the complexes he’s struggled with all of his life. He also really likes his therapist, just as I really like mine– although he’s now my friend, rather than my shrink. 😉
I am making this suggestion from a place of empathy. I’ve had dealings with narcissists and I know the damage they can wreak on a person’s psyche. If Cassidy Hutchinson was my friend, and we had the kind of relationship in which I felt I could be totally honest with her, I would strongly encourage her to see a psychotherapist. I would do so, even if her actual father wasn’t an extremely right wing MAGA nut.
I think being exposed to a toxic narcissist like Donald Trump for as long as she was can cause serious mental health issues. Add in the fact that she was raised by a man who insisted that his daughter be a “warrior” and berated her when she cried for legitimate reasons, and you have someone who has learned to suppress her own good sense in favor of the wants and needs of the crazy. There are quite a few examples of this behavior in Enough. Moreover, Trump was certainly not the only narcissist Cassidy Hutchinson had close dealings with during her work with the MAGA folks. Narcissists are masters of mind fuckery, and it can take some time and effort to unpack that shit. Trust me, I know firsthand.
At the beginning of her book, Cassidy Hutchinson thanks her stepfather, Paul, for being her “chosen father”. Based on her book, I would agree that Paul is a good man, and it’s good for her to lean on him. However, also based on her book, it hasn’t been that long since Cassidy realized that her real dad isn’t someone she can count on. In fact, at the very end of her book, she’s gone to his house to speak to him one last time, only to find that he’s vanished… and he never told her that he was going or where he would be. She then declares herself “free”. But I’m not convinced she is. Check out these passages from her book. I’ve bolded the toxic behavior from her dad.
In the very first paragraph in Chapter 1 of Enough, Cassidy Hutchinson writes about how she and her dog, Abby, waited for her dad to come home from work. She writes:
Barefooted, I sprinted down our long gravel driveway alongside Abby as the trucks came into sight. Dad led the caravan in his white 1992 Ford pickup truck. Slowing down, but not coming to a complete stop, he would open the passenger door for Abby and me to hop in. We would belt “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers and Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” at the top of our lungs as we drove to the back of the property, where Dad rested the equipment for the evening.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 3). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
She explains that her parents weren’t big believers in doctors or hospitals, so her mother gave birth to her at home. They found a holistic midwife to help deliver Cassidy on December 12, 1996. She further explains that her mom is the eldest of seven. She never really knew her father’s family. Her mother’s mom was a very hard worker and taught her to look at things other people overlooked. Then, when Cassidy was four years old, her mother got pregnant with her brother, Jack. While she and her mother were snuggling in bed one night, Cassidy found out that her middle name was Jacqueline, after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. I think it’s interesting that Cassidy was named after the wife of a legendary Democratic president, yet she fell into the Trump regime.
After 9/11, when she was five years old, Cassidy’s father took her turtle trapping. This was where she watched her dad and some friends obliterate a turtle in front of her. Cassidy was completely traumatized by what she watched them do, which was abject animal cruelty. She writes:
On our drive home, I told Dad I never wanted to go hunting again. Dad nodded. “That’s fine, Sissy Hutch,” he said. “But just so you know, warriors are not afraid to hunt. If you want to be a warrior just like Daddy, you must learn to hunt, Sissy. What you saw today is the circle of life.”
Dad always talked about how he was a warrior, and I wanted to be one, too. I knew how important it was to be a warrior. But I didn’t want to be a hunter, at least not yet. I decided to become a vegetarian.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 9). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
Later, when it became clear that Cassidy’s parents were going to divorce, the idea of being a “warrior” was presented again, when Cassidy had an accident and her dad wouldn’t take her to a hospital.
…Recently, I had been injured while I was in the yard with Dad and his employees. The yard was junked up with machines that Dad had taken apart to fix, but he had not gotten around to finishing the projects yet. I was out back with Abby and tripped over a machine part and fell on an old lawn mower blade.
Mom had begged Dad to take me to the hospital for stitches, which I probably needed. The cut was deep and bled more than I thought I had blood. Dad thought Mom was being ridiculous. Working with Dad made me stronger, and warriors don’t get stitches for little cuts and bruises. I was just happy that Dad still thought there was a chance I could be a warrior, even though I had decided to become a vegetarian after the turtle incident.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (pp. 11-12). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
Cassidy’s parents said they were going to move to Indiana. Cassidy’s dad brought a moving truck to the house, but wasn’t around to help pack or load it. Cassidy writes:
…At one point, I saw Mom muscling our baby grand piano through the house on her own. I scolded Mom to stop—she was going to hurt herself, and that was a project Dad should do, since he was the strongest person in our family. Mom lowered the piano onto the ground and calmly walked over to me.
She was slightly winded as she told me that the biggest mistake a woman could make was to think she couldn’t do the same thing as a man.
Mom walked back to the piano before I could respond. I watched her maneuver that piano right out of the house and hoist it into the moving truck by herself. Mom repeated this process with every large piece of furniture we were bringing to Indiana.
Dad wasn’t the strongest person in our family after all.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (pp. 12-13). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
So… Cassidy has described her father as a man who doesn’t trust people in authority, abuses animals, abandons his family when they need him, and neglects his daughter’s medical needs. And yet, throughout her book, she continually goes back to him, hoping he’ll be someone different. She also describes other men she knows who are more forthright and responsible. Her dad doesn’t like guys in the military, and avoids Cassidy’s Uncle Joe, who is in the National Guard and has bravely fought for his country. But Cassidy admires him, and she enjoys life in Indiana with her mom’s relatives. Her father puts an end to that carefree existence when he declares that he can’t leave Pennington, New Jersey. They sold their new house in Spencer, Indiana and moved back to Pennington.
Cassidy dad, who had told her “warriors don’t cry” when five year old Cassidy watched him blow up a turtle and when she’d fallen and hurt herself due to his negligence, was sobbing over the idea of moving to Indiana. And there was Cassidy, consoling him… as if she was his parent.
Through the window, I watched Dad wringing his hands and sobbing. He walked over to the pool and laid flat on the diving board as he continued to cry. My heart hurt so much, I could not wait a moment longer to be with him, so I ran outside. I asked him what was wrong, but I could not understand what he said. Mom was frozen, like a statue, and did not say a word herself.
Eventually I understood enough of Dad’s words. He could not do it, he said. He could not leave Pennington, the only place he had ever called home, to move to Indiana. Dad’s chest was heaving as he tried to calm himself down. Mom went to tend to Jack, since I had irresponsibly left him alone inside to console Dad.
I sat on the edge of the pool next to Dad and dangled my feet in the water. I rubbed his leg and tried to reassure him that everything would be okay. We would never leave him behind in New Jersey.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (pp. 13-14). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
To add insult to injury, Cassidy’s parents had rehomed Abby before their temporary move to Indiana. She adds that she had lost many pets because of her dad and his whims.
When Cassidy was eight years old, her father presented her with a four wheeler. Her mother didn’t think it was a good idea, but Cassidy’s dad insisted that she needed to learn to ride. Without so much as a proper helmet (she had a bike helmet), Cassidy and her dad took off on their four wheelers. What could possibly go wrong?
Cassidy hit an ice patch and wound up pinned under the bike. Her dad came over to help her, then asked if she was hurt. When it turned out Cassidy hadn’t been seriously injured, he said:
“See, Sissy. You’re not hurt, you can move perfectly fine. Now, get up,” he ordered, as he kicked the bottoms of my snow boots again. I screamed that I hated him, and that surge of anger gave me the strength to get out from under the four-wheeler. As I staggered to my feet, Dad effortlessly flipped my four-wheeler upright.
I screamed again that I hated him. Dad did not say a word as he twisted my key back in the ignition, roaring the vehicle back to life. He told me to sit down. I was trying not to cry, but my face was so numb, I did not know how successful my efforts were. I sat down, and Dad started walking back to his four-wheeler. I screamed a third time that I hated him.
Dad turned around. There were two deep lines etched between his eyebrows, and I saw his jaw clench. Almost immediately, his expression softened, and a smile grew across his cheeks. “Sissy, I helped you. What would you have done if I wasn’t here?” he asked, in a syrupy tone. “Warriors are self-sufficient, Sissy.”
“I would not have been on this stupid thing if you were out plowing, where you should have been anyway!” I screamed. Dad spun around and stormed toward me. In one swift movement, Dad ripped my key out of the ignition and chucked it overhand across the field. “You better find that key before it gets dark, or you will not find it until spring,” he instructed. Then he stomped back to his four-wheeler and sped away.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 18). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
She easily found the key, but purposely waited before leaving. She didn’t want him to think she hadn’t had to look for the key. She worried it would set him off, or cause him to fight with her mother. Her dad worked for animal control and also started businesses, which often became projects for Cassidy’s mom. Later, he took Cassidy to the dump to search for treasures.
Cassidy writes that her father, who used to hate TV, got hooked on a new reality show, starring Donald Trump. He loved watching The Apprentice because he admired Trump, whom he claimed was a “warrior” who had built his multi-million dollar business from the ground up. She writes:
Dad fixated so much on Donald Trump. I wished he would pay attention to us like he did to The Apprentice. When I told Dad this, his dinner fork clamored across his plate and he said that Donald Trump was teaching him how to become a better businessman so he did not have to work as much. The other option, Dad said, was that he could stop working altogether. Dad didn’t think his family would like how suffering felt, and since he had worked so hard, we had no idea what it meant to suffer.
In a way, Dad was right. I did not know what it felt like to suffer—to worry about not having food in the house, or a warm home to sleep in. But I felt like we were suffering as a result of his absence. I wanted Dad to be at home with us—with his family. And I wanted Dad to acknowledge how hard Mom was working, too.
Dad was gone so much, and as Jack and I got older, it was clear to me how essential Mom was to our family. In my opinion, Mom’s work was far more important than his. But Dad was growing more sharp-tongued with Mom, and I did not want to spark an argument. When I was not at school, I tried to help Mom with household chores and caring for Jack to take any load off her that I could.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 21). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
It’s at this point in the book that I started to see how Cassidy Hutchinson was the perfect candidate for Trump’s administration. She’d been groomed from childhood to take abuse from men who were important in her life. Her father worshiped Trump, and she missed him, even though he was abusive, neglectful, and batshit crazy. So it makes perfect sense that Cassidy would come to adore Trump, too. Loving Trump was a way for her to connect with her dad.
There are more stories about Cassidy’s dad and his abusive and neglectful parenting style. Cassidy clearly loved her father in spite of his unpredictable behavior and insistence on turning her into a “warrior”. She worked very hard in an effort to appease him. But her efforts never seemed to be enough for him. As his antics became more bizarre and sickening, Cassidy writes that she’s started to realize he’s toxic– especially when he gives her and her brother two deer hearts, both still warm and dripping with blood.
When she was in high school, Cassidy’s mother went away for the weekend with Paul. She was taking care of her brother while her friends were spending the night. She was feeling sick, with a pain in her gut. Her mom told her to call her dad, who offered to perform surgery on her. Cassidy drove herself to the emergency room. She writes:
Not much time had passed when the doctors determined that I needed an emergency appendectomy. The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital room with Mom and Paul standing over me. Mom was sympathetic at first, apologizing profusely for not listening to me sooner. But then her temper flared. She said that I had been reckless for driving myself to the hospital in my condition and that I should have called Dad. I needed to be less stubborn, she said.
I wanted to tell her that I had called him, but there was no point. It wouldn’t change what had already transpired, and I didn’t want Mom to feel bad. Plus my story was much more fun to tell because of it.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 33). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
When she got waitlisted at Gettysburg College, she thought about taking a gap year. But then she visited her Uncle Joe in Stuttgart, Germany. That’s when she decided to go to Christopher Newport University:
Late one night when we were visiting Joe and Steph in Stuttgart, Germany, Joe crept into the bedroom that Mom, Jack, and I shared and motioned for me to follow him outside. He asked if I was considering a gap year because it was what I wanted, not Mom. I considered his question before shaking my head no. He nodded, and then asked if I had heard where his next duty station was: “Williamsburg, Virginia. Fort Eustis. Didn’t you apply to a school near there?”
I had. Christopher Newport University.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 35). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
I feel it’s important to note– Fort Eustis is in Newport News, which is also where CNU is. Newport News is a very different place than Williamsburg is. 😉
At her high school graduation:
Dad was standing outside the fence with a few of his buddies. “Sissy Hutch graduated high school!” he shouted, and whistled loudly to summon me in his direction. I cringed, and with a glance appealed to the rest of my family. And then I walked over to Dad.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 35). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
All I’ve written about so far is just from the first part of Enough. The rest of the book is a study of what happened to Cassidy after she finished high school. There are many stories of her calmly accepting what men tell her she should do– everything from getting blonde highlights in her very dark hair (one of Trump’s suggestions) to ignoring mask mandates during a dangerous pandemic. Some of the men she encountered were good people with her best interests at heart. But a lot of them were selfish and abusive– highly polished versions of her father. And it just seems to me, reading Enough, that Cassidy was searching for some kind of bond with them… a substitute for her real father, who is clearly not a well man. This paragraph kind of sums it up for me:
Hundreds of Trump supporters gathered outside the airport gates, but my eyes locked on just one. Dad. He was wearing his formal clothes—a purple Ralph Lauren polo, dark wash jeans, and sneakers. His hair was neatly combed and thick with pomade. One of his arms was extended toward the sky, waving dramatically. He held his cell phone in his other hand, video-recording the motorcade. Our SUV rounded the corner, and I was close enough to see the lines on his face, the divot and tan line on his ring finger. I saw pride in his wide smile, too. Pure pride.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 160). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
Most of the cars and supporters had cleared out, including Mom. But not Dad. He was still there, still smiling, still waving frantically at the motorcade. I bit the inside of my cheek so hard that my mouth filled with the metallic taste of blood.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (pp. 160-161). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
Throughout the day, Dad sent me dozens of texts with videos of the motorcade, pictures of homemade signs people had brought, voice notes saying how proud he was of me, and that he wished he had seen me through one of the windows. “My Sissy Hutch, the Apple of My Eye, with the President… you work so hard, Sissy…,” one message read.
We were flying to our final rally of the day when I received one last video from Dad. It was of the C-17 aircraft that transports the motorcade vehicles, taking off against a stunning sunset. I stopped watching it when I heard Dad sniffle and begin to talk. I didn’t want to hear what he had to say. In a way, I preferred his cruelty. I was proud of the life I was building, but I couldn’t risk contaminating that life with the confusing, conflicted reality of my past. He had never shown up before, I reminded myself.
But he had that day. For a moment, I acknowledged that the shame I felt was not Dad’s fault, nor was it Mom’s. I was desperate to fit in the world that I had worked hard to become a cherished member of, but below the surface I felt displaced and undeserving. I did not know how to marry the two worlds I loved dearly: the world I came from, and the world I now lived in.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 161). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
On January 6th, Cassidy is still planning to move to Florida. Her mother begs her to reconsider her move. She writes:
I feel physical pain when I see the Capitol dome as I cross the bridge into Washington. I want to scream, but I feel paralyzed.
I don’t turn on any lights when I enter my apartment. My body is on autopilot as I walk from my front door to the living room. I collapse onto my couch, staring at the ceiling. I feel my cell phone vibrate. It’s Mom and Paul.
Mom is crying. She’s begging me not to move to Florida. Paul interjects, trying to defuse the argument before it begins. He doesn’t realize how little I care, how far gone I am.
My tone is flat, uninflected. “I have to go. I’ve already committed. The boss needs good people around him. The only reason today happened is because we let bad people, crazy people, around him. I need to try to fix—”
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 219). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
Cassidy still thinks it’s the people around Trump who have caused this mess. And worse, her savior complex, coupled with plain old egotism, cause her to think she can FIX Donald Trump, when other people, presumably older and wiser, couldn’t. She continues:
“Cassidy. Listen to yourself.” My mom’s tone shifts to parent mode, and I dissociate even more. “This isn’t you. You know better than this. You can’t fix him. You know you shouldn’t go. Listen to me, Cassidy. Listen to me…”
I hang up and put my phone on Do Not Disturb. Heavy, loud sobs escape from my chest. I have to go, I have to go…
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 219). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
Even though Cassidy has seen the horrors of January 6th and they make her “sick”, she thinks that she can make it better and than Trump needs her. She doesn’t think of what she needs. It’s the same kind of thing she experienced with her father. She doesn’t seem to realize that she can only fix herself, and that is what she should focus on.
At the end of the book, Cassidy seems to have come to a conclusion about her dad…
Dad was never very fond of holidays, even when I was young. But for some unknown reason, there have been certain holidays when I’ve felt compelled to check to see if he was home. There was never a holiday I found him at home. I never knew where he was, but I also never asked. And I never told him I did this.
The pragmatic and optimistic scenarios were the same, year after year. His truck would either not be in the driveway or it would be. If it wasn’t, I would keep driving. If it was, I planned to stop, and hoped he would welcome me inside.
On Thanksgiving Day 2022, my optimistic scenario was that his truck would be in the driveway, and that he would agree we could talk.
As I approached the house, the first thing I noticed was not that his truck wasn’t in the driveway. I noticed that other cars were.
And a U-Haul. And small children.
I slammed on my brakes in front of the house, unsure what to do.
But what I had to do was clear. I had to keep driving.
I drove until my breath choked my lungs.
He left without notice, without a goodbye or a new mailing address.
He was gone.
I stopped the car and let my tears fall, until no more remained.
Hutchinson, Cassidy. Enough (p. 352). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.
I’d like to remind everyone that, as of this writing, Thanksgiving 2022 was less than a year ago. Moreover, Cassidy Hutchinson has been through a lot since June 2022. So, if she was a friend of mine, I think I would tell her that she might like to seek therapy. I think it would do her a world of good. And I think it’s too bad she didn’t consider joining the military to become an officer. She seems very well suited to the work. She has a strong work ethic, a sense of right and wrong, and a willingness to put up with a lot of shit, particularly from men. She’s approachable and works well with others. Apparently, she’s willing to work for low pay, too.
In a weird way, I see some similarities between Cassidy Hutchinson and Monica Lewinsky. They were both young, ambitious, brunette women with significant issues with their parents, who eventually got tangled up in scandals with US presidents. Granted, Monica grew up with a lot of privilege– much more than Cassidy had. But if you read up about her upbringing, you find evidence that her father was abusive and neglectful. They both worked in the White House, got close to very powerful people, and wound up fodder for the paparazzi. I may have to explore this more in another post. This one has gone on long enough. 😉
Anyway, I hope Cassidy Hutchinson does get some support in the wake of publishing her book. I think she’s going to need it. Especially if Trump winds up finally being held legally responsible for all he’s done.