Friday, March 10, 2023

Republicans have gone beyond post-truth to become the party of lies

Back in 2011, David Roberts wrote that Republicans had become the "post-truth" party.

[Republicans] talk about cutting the deficit even as they slash taxes on the rich and launch unfunded wars. They talk about free markets even as they subsidize fossil fuels. They talk about American exceptionalism even as they protect fossil-fuel incumbents and fight research and infrastructure investments.

In short, Republicans have mastered post-truth politics. They’ve realized that their rhetoric doesn’t have to bear any connection to their policy agenda.

Fast forward to 2023 and we see that, for Republicans, their rhetoric doesn't have to bear any connection to reality.

  1. While in office, Donald Trump told over 30,000 lies. 
  2. Representative George Santos lied about pretty much everything.
  3. Filings from the lawsuit Dominion brought against Fox News show that the Republican propaganda network is a completely dishonest organization.
Those are just a few examples. 

Of course, a party based on lies can flourish if two conditions are met:

  1. Their supporters exist in an epistemic bubble where they're protected from reality, and
  2. They are in the minority and all they have to do is lob accusatory bombs at the opposition. 
It remains to be seen if the truth about Fox News will poke a hole in the right wing epistemic bubble. But in the 2022 elections, Republicans gained a majority in the House and folks like Jim Jordan are learning that the tactics they perfected while in the minority aren't working for them right now. 

Jordan is chairing the select subcommittee on the "weaponization of government" whose goal is to scrutinize the "concerted effort by the government to silence and punish conservatives at all levels.” So far, things aren't going great. 

  • Axios published at article with the headline: "Jim Jordan scrambles amid claims 'weaponization' probe is a dud."
  • Mike Davis, former chief counsel for nominations for then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), wrote in a tweet thread: "This is doomed to fail."
  • Jeff Carlson, co-host of "Truth Over News" on EpochTV, tweeted, "Is it once again all talk and no action from the ... Weaponization Committee?"
  • Fox News' Jesse Watters said: "Make me feel better, guys. Tell me this is going somewhere." 
  • On Steve Bannon’s program, a conservative guest described the “weaponization” committee as “a failure,” adding, “Jim Jordan is just not a serious person.”
  • Dana Milbank wrote that "It is possible that, by random chance, one of the witnesses may have said something that is factually true, but any pellet of accuracy was lost amid all the errant slugs that ricocheted crazily out of their muzzles."
  • Writers at the Bulwark noted that, "once again, Jordan’s investigative weapon was loaded with blanks. And he was hunting dead game anyway."
So across the political spectrum, the consensus is that Jordan is blowing it. But it's not just because he's incompetent. Steve Benen nailed it.
It would be no more productive for House Republicans to create a select subcommittee to investigate Bigfoot. They could hire dozens of investigators, depose countless witnesses, hold hours of hearings, and send out a steady stream of subpoenas, but in the end, things that don’t exist can’t be found.

The whole premise of the committee is based on a myriad of lies Republicans have been telling for years now. The moral of this story is that, when liars have to step out of their epistemic bubble into the sunlight of the real world, it's not a pretty picture.

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