Kevin McCarthy, who could be the next Speaker of the House, made a boast on Fox News recently in an attempt to show how well he will serve the conservative cause:
What you’re going to see is a conservative speaker, that takes a conservative Congress, and puts a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee — a Select Committee — what are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.
Liberal blogs tend to drop the last few sentences, which contain a kind of rationalization: that the Benghazi numbers were not to smear Hillary, but to show what they considered to be the truth about Hillary.
That does not, however, make it okay: it still means that McCarthy was admitting that Benghazi is about bringing Clinton down, and not because there should actually be hearings about Benghazi. He essentially admitted that the hearings are political, even if you believe the rationalization.
Whatever the case, everyone is in an uproar about it because McCarthy let slip something that he should not have. He openly admitted, intentionally or not, that the whole Benghazi hearings are a sham. He has since tried to walk it back, but no one is actually buying it.
The reason I bring this up is not to show up that one case, but to show up an entire practice, of which Benghazi is only one example, and which is far broader and much more significant.
Conservatives have a host of issues and agendas which are, like Benghazi, essentially just political lies perpetrated for political benefit. That’s not the significant point, as such ploys are common.
The significant features are that (1) the ploys are obviously and transparently lies in the face of overwhelming, well-established fact, and (2) conservatives get away with them cold simply by publicly stating that they are not political ploys.
This is modeled along the same lines as the open bribery that now corrupts politics: you can be obvious as hell about taking bribes, but so long as you do it in the official manner and claim that it is not a bribe, you can get away with it. So long as there is the tiniest shred of doubt that your egregious fallacy is something that you may actually believe is real, this doubt automatically wins you complete recognition, allowing you to shape policy, pass laws, and potentially harm millions of people.
Mind you, it is not doubt as to whether or not your “facts” are in any sense real, it is about whether or not you publicly maintain that they are real. It is akin to somebody saying that aliens implanted radio receivers in your dental work and you are getting transmissions direct from God, and so long as you maintain the claim, people have to respect your claim and allow you to act as if it were real.
This tactic has been applied to a range of aggressive political acts of fraud:
- Voter fraud: conservatives claim that there is widespread voter fraud, something which has been proven false, but use the claim to create voting laws which are clearly aimed at disenfranchising people who vote against them. We know that voter fraud is rare and that the “remedies” are the real fraud, but we just sit and let it happen.
- Obamacare: conservatives claim it will bust the budget and destroy jobs, even after it has been working for years and clearly is working opposite to how they claim. We know that Obamacare works and is better than the alternatives, but we just sit and let them grind the government to a halt.
- Trickle-down: conservatives keep claiming that giving tax cuts to “job creators” and getting rid of various taxes on wealthy people and corporations will create jobs and balance the budget when it is undeniably clear that such policies have done no such thing. We know that higher tax rates for the rich and a better minimum wage for the poor and middle class is a good idea, but we let them shape tax policy in a way we understand is destructive.
- The Iran Treaty: despite the fact that virtually every unbiased expert guarantees that this is as good a deal as anyone could possibly imagine, Republicans continue to insist that it will destroy us. We know that the treaty is the best thing and that Republicans would be hailing it as a miracle if it had been brokered by one of their own, but we give their lies credence all the same.
- Climate Change: the jury has been in for years now, the facts could not be more clear, but conservatives continue to fight the idea that climate change is caused by human activity and thus we need to change or else the consequences will only become more and more grave. We know this is true, but allow conservatives to run the legislative show as if everything was reversed.
There are more, but I trust that you can see the pattern: in all of the above cases, Benghazi included, it is completely and utterly clear, provable by actual, settled fact, that conservatives are perpetrating sheer, transparent lies. Not just opinions, not just beliefs, but complete fabrications which they obviously know are fabricated for partisan political purposes.
And yet, Republicans are given the benefit of the doubt and a waiver from the press, the public, and even sometimes from the law itself simply by maintaining the shamelessly dishonest pretense that they are not lying and that their fraud is not a fraud.
It is just as transparent as if a child is caught with his hand in the cookie jar and yet claims that he’s not stealing cookies. And yet, here we are, letting the child stand at the cookie jar, just staring at us brazenly and impudently while he downs every single cookie one by one, and we just stand here impotently because, well, the kid said he wasn’t eating any cookies, so what can we do?
Nor is it just us standing here, it’s the media, reporting the lies as if they could be real, as if it were just a matter of opinion, deathly afraid of pointing out the lie lest the child accuse the media of being biased and cutting off their access. And we’re stupid enough to just stand here and let it all happen.
When did it become so easy to cow everybody?
That has to stop. The media has to stop perpetuating these lies just because they’re afraid to be labeled as “biased” by the liars. And the public has to have more self-respect than to accept the lies simply because we like the outcome or feel like there’s nothing we can do.
Stop being complicit, stop being a coward. Call them what they are, and stop allowing the liars to get away with it.