First rule of GOP politics: Never, never, EVER tell the truth

Incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy just committed a “gaffe” in Michael Kinsley’s sense of the term: in an unguarded moment, he allowed himself to tell the truth. The truth is, as most of has have always known, that Benghazi!, like its predecessor Whitewater!, was an entirely bad-faith exercise in partisan character assassination from the get-go. But don’t listen to me, listen to what the Speaker-to-Be told Sean Hannity:

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’ve known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.

Naturally, the rest of the House Republicans are outraged: not, of course, at Trey Gowdy for ghoulishly making a political meal out of the bodies of four dead Americans, but at McCarthy for blabbing.

The political press corps is caught in the middle. Lots of those reporters and editors, especially at the New York Times, have been more than willing to peddle Gowdy’s “partial-transcript” leaks as if they had news value, and to let Gowdy and his staff hide behind anonymity to defame a political rival. In other words, they’ve been playing according to the Clinton Rules, which hold that anything a Clinton does is guilty even after it’s been proven innocent.

So far, most of that crowd has reacted to McCarthy’s stunning admission, which makes them look like fools or scoundrels or both, by ignoring it. But I’m hoping that the second round of stories, with other Republicans commenting on McCarthy’s blunder, will start to crack that Wall of Silence. And I’m starting to look forward to Clinton’s appearance before Trey Gowdy’s inquisition. He might well come out of that experience as no more than a Deuce.

 

 

 

Rule of thumb

Any politician or pundit who pushed the Benghazi hoax and doesn’t now retract and apologize is a scoundrel.

Any pundit or politician who helped promote the Benghazi! hoax, and who doesn’t fully retract and apologize now that a Republican-dominated House committee has fully debunked all the accusations against the Administration other than having paid attention to what turned out to be inaccurate initial reports from the intelligence agencies, should from now on be conclusively presumed a fool and a scoundrel. Of course we already knew that about Lindsay Graham, who is sticking to his principles by denying reality. But so far none of the loud Behghazi!-mongers has stepped up to eat his plate of crow. And John Boehner’s handpicked “select committee” can probably be counted on to try to make the zombie lies walk again; the House Republican website still has all the debunked charges, with no mention of the new report debunking them, under the mind-blowingly ironic heading of “accountability.” Will no one hold the Republicans accountable?

Yes. anyone involved in politics sometimes thinks the voters are sort of stupid, because of course the voters often act stupidly. The rational-choice political scientists have actually formulated theories of “rational ignorance” to explain why people vote on evidence that would never persuade them to buy a used car: voters aren’t spending their own money. (And no, the inference that democratic government is a mistake, or alternatively that government is always rotten and ought to be minimized, isn’t justified, unless you’ve examined the consequences of undemocratic government of of unchecked private action and found that they’re not as bad.)

And yes, it was damned silly for Jonathan Gruber to let himself get caught on camera saying what everyone knows to be partially true.

But Jonathan Gruber didn’t just win an election by lying to voters. The Republicans did. I’m happy to give Trey Gowdy credit for telling the truth at last, but of course he knew the truth three weeks ago, when publishing it could have had an impact on the midterm election results. Even a relatively honest Republican preferred to have his party win by lying to taking the risk of telling the American people the truth.

Let’s just recall how ghoulish this whole business has been. Republicans have – with some success – tried to get political gain out of the deaths of four Americans who died for their country at the hands of its enemies, and kept doing so long after the spuriousness of the conspiracy theories was clear.

The extremism, mendacity, and lack of scruple of the Teahadi-dominated GOP have risen to the level of a constitutional crisis. That’s observable fact. It’s time for reporters who pride themselves on “objectivity” to start reporting that fact, rather than groveling to the successful scoundrels and blaming their victims.

Against symmetry: Republicans-love-being-lied-to edition

Mike Huckabee calls Lara Logan a “hero journalist” for airing a false story.

Lots of us liberals felt sorry for Dan Rather for having used what turned out to be fabricated documents in reporting on George W. Bush’s derelictions of duty while using the Air National Guard to dodge service in Vietnam. Some of us even suspected that he’d been mousetrapped by Karl Rove: that the phony documents had been planted on Rather, or on his source, for the purpose of discrediting a true story.

But once the fabrication had been brought to light, no liberal blogger – let alone any liberal politician – called Rather a “hero” for running with his story.

Contrast Mike Huckabee, who – if he’s right that America’s sinfulness has drawn down on it the Wrath of God – might actually be President some day. He’s “shocked” that the “hero journalist” Lara Logan has been suspended from her job at CBS.

It’s simply not the case that the Red Team and the Blue Team are symmetric. Yes, they both act factionally, and both camps include some lunatics. But we don’t let ours run the asylum.