This morning, Jake Sherman tweeted that the relationship between Liz Cheney and the rest of the House Republican leadership-- McCarthy and Scalise-- "is very near a breaking point." He wrote that he's "been focused on House leadership for a long time, and this is about as bad as it’s gotten."
What else does does the phrase "as bad as it’s gotten" bring to mind? Just as I was writing, Digby tweeted "It's not vaccine 'hesitancy' among the rightwingers. It's vaccine 'obstinacy'." And maybe it's even darker. Is the GOP looking for failure-- even collapse? Anomie?
As John Amato pointed out a Crooks and Liars yesterday, Fox news has been filling their zombies' empty heads with stories about Biden and the Democrats banning hamburgers. Amato: "Last week, President Biden held a virtual climate Summit in which he voiced his new plans for curbing global warming. As usual the typical right-wing grievance agitators in Congress and the media used a flawed article from the right-wing Daily Mail to falsely claim President Biden wants to eliminate cows altogether. FoxQ host Jeanine Pirro became totally unhinged over the weekend and used a graphic of exploding cow farts to attack the Green New Deal. I kid you not, she did that. The idiot Trump son Don Jr. went on Twitter to join in with the lunatic fringe. On Sunday, Larry Kudlow groused about "plant-based beer" and how terrible that would be. [I don't drink beer but as far as I know, all beer is plant based and has always been.] After a full weekend of manufactured outragel, host John Roberts spent all of 25 seconds on Monday afternoon retracting Fox News' weekend-long reporting on Biden's faux attack on hamburgers."
It didn't end there. Amato went on to report that "Fox News and conserverazzi spent the entire weekend hyperventilating over claims that Biden would close down McDonald's, Burger Kings and make cows illegal." This was Kudlow's rant: "Speaking of stupid. America has to, get this, America has to stop eating meat, stop eating poultry and fish, seafood, eggs, dairy and animal-based fats. OK, got that? No burgers on July Fourth. No steaks on the barbecue. ... So get ready. You can throw back a plant-based beer with your grilled Brussels sprouts and wave your American flag."
Obviously-- and unfortunately from my perspective (which is similar to Epicurious' perspective-- none of this is remotely true. This is just how Republicans campaign. Does Liz Cheney really want to be part of this? Probably.
NBC News' polling shows that the face of the GOP, Donald J. Trump's has weakening favorability ratings-- "among all adults stands at 32 percent favorable, 55 percent unfavorable, which is down from his rating in January (40 percent favorable, 53 percent unfavorable among registered voters), as well as where he was in the poll right before the election (43 percent favorable, 52 percent unfavorable among registered voters). Even Trump’s pull within his own party appears to have lessened, with 44 percent of Republicans saying they’re more supporters of Trump than the GOP, versus 50 percent who say they’re more supporters of the GOP than the former president."
Right direction... but probably not enough to save Liz Cheney... Or the Republican Party.
It’s the first time since July 2019 when party supporters have outnumbered Trump supporters in our poll, and it’s also the first time that party supporters have reached 50 percent on this question.
Strikingly, these numbers are coming as the perception of Trump’s pull within his party couldn’t be stronger.
GOP politicians are still trekking to Mar-A-Lago. They’re clamoring for his endorsement. And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy continues to hug Trump, even after what happened on Jan. 6.
But close to 100 days after leaving office, Trump’s standing-- nationally as well within his own party-- is weaker today than it was three months ago.
And what a party! That's the point. Let me go back to the whopper meant to rile up the carnivores. Ashley Parker wrote for the Washington Post yesterday that the whole story wasn't a misunderstanding but "a mistruth making its way around the conservative ecosphere-- that Biden’s climate plan would significantly limit America’s hamburger consumption." She also called it "a case study in how a falsehood can rapidly metastasize among Republicans-- pushed not only by the party’s fringe but also by more mainstream voices, like former South Carolina governor and potential 2024 hopeful Nikki Haley. The argument dovetails with a common claim on the right that Democrats are out to ban meat-eating, whether for reasons of health or climate. And the episode underscores how the shadow of Donald Trump’s presidency-- rife with misinformation and mistruths and lies-- still lingers, providing Republicans with a mendacious road map for demonizing a political rival. The nation experienced 30,573 false or misleading claims over Trump’s four years in office, according to the Washington Post Fact Checker-- culminating in the baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen, which ultimately help provoke the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Daniel Effron, a professor of organizational behavior at London Business School who studies the psychology of lies, said that even if people don’t believe a specific falsehood, its mere existence can still help perpetuate a damaging narrative.
“One of the things misinformation can do is signal to people that there’s a deeper truth to what’s being claimed, even if people know it’s not literally true,” Effron said. “So you see a bunch of people sharing this thing about the burger and you may not think, ‘Biden is going to literally take away the burgers,’ but you may start to believe the broader point this misinformation is making-- the broader point in this case being Biden is super liberal, he’s going to infringe on our liberties, he can’t be trusted.”
Burger-gate kept spreading through the weekend. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) dubbed Biden “The Hamburglar,” while Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) tweeted that Biden should “stay out of my kitchen.” Donald Trump Jr. retweeted the Fox News graphic, writing, “I’m pretty sure I ate 4 pounds of red meat yesterday. That’s going to be a hard NO from me.” And on Sunday, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) tweeted that “Not only does Emperor Biden not want us to celebrate the 4th of July, now he doesn’t want us to have a burger on that day either.”
Both Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Idaho Gov. Brad Little shared the Fox News graphic on Twitter, with Abbott proclaiming, “Not gonna happen in Texas!” and Little writing, “Idahoans also have beef with this agenda and for dinner!”
...Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said the challenge for Democrats is that even seemingly inconsequential falsehoods can consume valuable time and detract from an administration’s strategic message.
“This is where Democrats misunderstand the right-wing media machine,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s not that swing voters are going to believe that Biden wants to ban hamburgers; it’s that it makes it harder to get your positive message out on other things because you’re busy responding to this.”
Pfeiffer said Democrats are left with something of a Hobson’s choice: Respond, and help fuel a bad news cycle, or don’t respond and let your opponents define the cycle for you.
“This is the dilemma of anyone dealing with such obvious disinformation: Do you ignore it or do you respond to it?” he said. “If you respond to it, you risk giving it additional oxygen, but one of the lessons of recent years is that it’s going to get oxygen no matter what, so you have to arm your allies with the facts so they can share them.”
Effron said that even silly or implausible falsehoods can have corrosive effects long-term.
“We know from psychology research that people make moral judgments about others based not just on what the others have actually done, but based on what we imagine they would do if given the chance,” Effron said. “And in this case, it doesn’t matter if Biden has actually proposed this. As soon as you start to imagine this is the sort of thing Biden might do, you can start getting just as outraged as if he’s actually done this.”
White House spokesman Andrew Bates made light of the kerfuffle around lunchtime on Monday.
“I’m literally eating a West Wing Burger right now,” he said.
Indeed, a review of the White House Mess menu reveals a “West Wing Burger”-- a “house blend” beefy patty with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a pickle for $7-- or, for an additional $1, with cheese.