There's not a chance that George Bush's former chief speech writer, lifelong conservative Michael Gerson, has been reading the DWT posts on GOP-derangement, let alone the one from this morning on Tucker Carlson's attempt to destroy Kevin McCarthy's career, before he wrote his Elected Republicans Are Lying With Open Eyes column for the Washington Post. Today he wrote that his old party "is increasingly defined not by its shared beliefs, but by its shared delusions. To be a loyal Republican, one must be either a sucker or a liar. And because this defining falsehood [that Trump won the election] is so obviously and laughably false, we can safely assume that most Republican leaders who embrace it fall into the second category. Knowingly repeating a lie-- an act of immorality-- is now the evidence of Republican fidelity... 'Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil.' Moral clarity against lying is sometimes made harder by our loose application of the term. When public figures disagree with you in their analyses of tax policy, or welfare spending or Social Security reform, they’re generally not lying. They’re disagreeing. When it’s revealed that someone was previously wrong about an issue-- even on a grave matter of national security-- it doesn’t mean he or she was lying all along. It means that person was wrong." [A very touchy subject for Iraq War fanatic Gerson.]
The context for Trump’s lies has been particularly damning. When Trump falsely asserted that Barack Obama was born in Africa and thus illegitimate as president, it was permission for racism. When he claimed he saw Muslims in New Jersey celebrating on Sept. 11, 2001, it was a vicious lie to feed a prejudice.
But the lie of a stolen election is the foundational falsehood of a political worldview. Believing it requires Trump’s followers to affirm the existence of a nationwide plot against him and his supporters-- a plot led by ruthless Democrats and traitorous Republicans, and ignored or endorsed by useless courts and a complicit media. The claim’s plausibility is not the point. Does it really make sense that Attorney General William P. Barr, who found no evidence of election fraud that could have changed the result, was in on the plot? Were the conservative judges Trump appointed who dismissed his rubbish lawsuits really out to get him?
Such considerations don’t seem to matter. In the 1930s and ’40s, was it plausible that the democratic leaders of Weimar Germany had stabbed their own country in the back and betrayed its people? Or that an international conspiracy of powerful Jews was controlling world events?
Trump’s lie is not the moral equivalent of fascist propaganda. But it serves the same political function. A founding lie is intended to remove followers from the messy world of facts and evidence. It is designed to replace critical judgment with personal loyalty. It is supposed to encourage distrust of every source of social authority opposed to the leader’s shifting will.
The people who accepted this political mythology and stormed the Capitol were not lying about their views. They seemed quite sincere. And who knows what Trump really thinks? When a congenital liar surrounds himself with sycophantic liars, he can easily lose radio contact with reality.
No, it is the elected Republicans who are lying with open eyes, out of fear or cynicism, who have the most to atone for. With the health of U.S. democracy at stake, their excuses are disgraceful.
And when this cultivated Republican fear or cynicism makes it impossible for the country to hit herd immunity, we're talking about a problem that goes beyond an internal Republican Party civil war. We met America's enemy-- Tucker-- in the last post but here he is again-- this time on John Oliver's show last night-- doing is worst to persuade pig-headed Republicans to not feel any compulsion to be vaccinated: