Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why Do So Many Republicans Crave Being Lied To?


Earlier in the campaign for the Republican nomination, did anyone feel another candidate could possibly eclipse Carly Fiorina as the most compulsive liar in American politics? After she was thoroughly outed as someone who just made shit up, her meteoric rise-- even among the Fox/Hate Talk Radio base of the GOP-- was halted and within weeks her aspirations to be anything more than Ted Cruz's running mate came crashing down to earth, voters left with two impressions: her lies about being a successful CEO at Hewlett Packard and her lies about personally seeing some Planned Parenthood video that doesn't exist and has never existed. Her national polling went from a high of 15% when CNN found her the second most popular Republican candidate after Trump in mid-September back down to also-ran status in the newest Fox News poll last week (just 2 months later)-- in a 3-way tie for 6th place with Huckabee and Christie and with a mere 3%, approximately the poll's margin of error. (And, yes, she's still lying her ass off on every subject that comes her way, although now no one is paying much attention to anything she says.)

And then we all remember how Trump skillfully managed it tank his closest rival, poor ole Dr. Ben, with an-emperor-has-no-clothes strategy and a generous use of the word "pathological." The fact that most of the statements by Carson that have been checked by Politifact-- 23 so far-- are either "mostly false (26%), "false" (43%) or "pants on fire (13%) for a grand total of 82% with not even one "true" statement and only 1 that was found to be "mostly true," played right into Trump's hands. It's impossible to come away from a look at what Carson says and think he's less of a liar, even pathological liar, than Fiorina. And after another crazy whopper yesterday-- claiming, like Trump, that he had "seen" thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, he backed away saying something about having mixed up Jersey City with Raqqa or someplace in the Middle East.

OK, but what about Trump himself. Monday the papers were bursting with examples of his bold-faced lies-- his fake statistic from a neo-Nazi website smearing blacks and his bullshit about having seen with his own eyes New Jersey Muslims celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Not just lies, but malicious, incendiary fascist propaganda aimed right at the tiny brains of Republicans who are now incapable of, largely thanks to Fox News, differentiating between reality and reality TV. Denounced by fact-checking services, by former New York Governor George Pataki, by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, and even, gingerly, very, very gingerly, by political coward Chris Christie, it's just another in a long series of exposed Trumpoid lies that are like water off a duck's back in terms of the Republican Party base. They could care less if he's telling the truth or not, as long as he feeds their own primitive bigotry and prejudices, and the sense of rage, anger and frustration that permeates the Foxified GOP base right now.

Americans across the board have little trust in government, according to a new poll, but Republicans are nearly three times as likely as Democrats to say they are "angry" at the government as the 2016 election approaches.

And voters' level of anger has a significant impact on their preferences for the next president, the Pew Research Center poll out Monday showed.

Only 19% of Americans say they can trust government always or most of the time, close to the lowest level in the past 60 years, according Pew.

Republicans on average, though, are much more likely to express dissatisfaction with government than Democrats. They are nearly three times as likely to say they are "angry" with it, at 32% of Republicans and GOP leaners compared with 12% of Democrats and Democratic leaners.

...GOP front-runner Donald Trump fares far better among Republicans who identify as angry than among those who do not.
The Republican Establishment is freaking out that their party has been taken over by an angry mob of racists and bigots too stupid to, or interested in, discerning between objective truth and blatant lies. The Republican Party Establishment made this bed; now they can try sleeping in it. Yesterday Chuck Todd dubbed Trump the post-truth 2016 candidate. As he acknowledges, "almost all presidential candidates exaggerate, dissemble, take statements out of context and, yes, lie. But from the start of Donald Trump's presidential campaign (remember Mexican rapists?), he has taken this to a level we haven't seen before in American politics."

And Trump has dragged the whole GOP Deep Bench down the rat-hole with him. Hillary may defend herself from Bernie allies mentioning she is taking bucketfuls of Dark Money from Wall Street predators by claiming you can't compete without this kind of corrupting cash. But the the Republicans-who-are-not-Trump are saying the same thing about not being able to compete against Trump without lying. Politifact ratings on the percent of statements by presidential candidates that are "true" or "mostly true" give you an idea about what has happened to the GOP in the Age of Trump. From most honest to least honest, you'll notice the most "traditional" politicians are least likely to lie and the least traditional are... well, compulsive liars or, in Dr. Ben's and Trump's words, "pathological liars":
Bernie- 53%
Hillary- 50%
Jeb- 46%
Chris Christie- 41%
Rubio- 38%
Lindsey Graham- 34%
Fiorina- 28%
Ted Cruz- 21%
Trump- 7%
Dr. Ben- 4%
Do those numbers startle you? They should, especially those of Ted Cruz, a United States Senator. Only one statement out of 5 that Cruz makes is even "mostly" true. The chances of Ted Cruz saying something true are, remote. And he's five times more honest than Dr. Ben! Let these numbers sink in. PPP found a different, perhaps more amusing, way to look at this pretty disturbing phenomenon. For their holiday survey they asked participants nationally, and from both parties, which candidate for president would be most likely to say something inappropriate at the table and ruin Thanksgiving Dinner. Trump got more votes than all the other candidates combined!
Trump- 46%
Hillary- 22%
Bernie- 7%
Dr. Ben- 6%
Jeb- 6%
Ted Cruz- 4%
Rubio- 1%
Several things apart from the obvious were clear: no one wants a gross slob like Chris Christie at their Thanksgiving dinner table; few people understand exactly what Ted Cruz is; and people really do see Marco Rubio as an innocuous, frightened little boy. Asked who they would most like having over for Thanksgiving dinner, most people chose Hillary (24%), Dr. Ben (18%), Trump the TV star (17%) and Bernie (11%). No one else was in double digits. Could you imagine having to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with Carly Fiorina or Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum?

This morning's Washington Post featured OpEds from Dana Milbank-- The GOP is running out of time to find the anti-Trump-- and Michael Gerson-- Republicans are still in ‘denial mode’ over Donald Trump-- that both emphasize the GOP Establishment hand-wringing over the FrankenTrump monster they've created. "Trump," Gerson reminds them, "has, so far, set the terms of the primary debate and dragged other candidates in the direction of ethnic and religious exclusion. One effect has been the legitimization of even more extreme views-- signaling that it is okay to give voice to sentiments and attitudes that, in previous times, people would have been too embarrassed to share in public. So in Tennessee, the chairman of the state legislature’s GOP caucus has called for the mobilization of the National Guard to round up Syrian refugees and put them in camps. Many Republicans are now on record saying that Islam is inherently violent and inconsistent with constitutional values (while often displaying an ironic and disturbing ignorance of those values)... As denial in the GOP fades, a question is laid upon the table: Is it possible, and morally permissible, for economic and foreign policy conservatives, and for Republicans motivated by their faith, to share a coalition with the advocates of an increasingly raw and repugnant nativism?"

Milbank was less sympathetic: "Republican elites are panicky about the durable dominance of Trump (and to a lesser extent Ben Carson) in the presidential race. They are right to worry, but I don’t feel much sympathy. Trump is a problem of their own creation. Trump gets ever more base in his bigotry-- and yet, with few and intermittent exceptions, rival candidates, party leaders and GOP lawmakers decline to call him out. So he continues to rise, benefiting from tacit acceptance of his intolerance... The longer Republican leaders take to find their anti-Trump voices, the more their quiescence becomes an endorsement." Today, by the way, the Republican establishment seems to be about to try Christie-- at least according to shameless establishment mouthpieces like Joe Scarborough and Michael Barbaro. That should be a laugh and a half. Funnier than even the deflated Kasich trial balloon of a few weeks ago... or are they going to try that again too?

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