GOING BIG

Posted in Rants on July 18th, 2017 by Ed

As their total inability to govern in anything but a cyclone that leaves a trail of destruction in its wake becomes increasingly obvious, the White House and congressional Republicans are engaging in a strategy that can be described as, if nothing else, "bold." They're lying. They've always lied a lot, but they've progressed to lying big, to lying in ways that do not even have a definable reference point in reality.

The sad thing is, were I paid to advise them I would recommend doing exactly that.

The hardcore Trump base has proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that they will accept the things he says as the gospel truth. Hell, they accept staggeringly ludicrous things they find in internet comment sections as the truth so long as it tells them something they're inclined to believe. Liberals and the media, in contrast, point out the lies and let loose with streams of invective. And it must be dawning on Trump that these reactions are not affected by the magnitude of the lie. And if you're going to expose yourself to the risk that lying might cost you something in terms of political capital, you might as well lie big. Real big.

That whole "bring back coal" bullshit isn't working out? Whatever – just say you made up 50,000 coal jobs even though that's more people than the entire coal industry employs. Republicans can't pass a bill to save their souls? Just say it's the Democrats' fault (it doesn't have to make any sense). Caught in a web of lies with unseemly Russian operatives? It was…uh, a Clinton-Obama setup! Health care bill is an embarrassing flop? Hell, just assume your idiot supporters don't know who controls the Senate and blame it on the Democrats.

These aren't the standard political lies that rely on stretching the truth, cherry picking the data, fudging interpretations of events in creative ways, or offering partial truth in place of the whole thing. This is fantasy stuff. This is stuff made up out of thin air. We're accustomed to things like the Bush administration relying on an extremely selective reading of dubious information to justify the Iraq War, or elected officials lying about personal sex scandals as long as they believe they can get away with it. We don't have experience, though, with Russian-style "Make up your own reality" lying, at least not from the White House and not on this scale.

The sad fact, again, is that this makes perfect sense strategically. If your base will believe literally anything as long as you say it, there's really no incentive to hold back.

This new political reality in which there are no consequences for lying as blatantly and boldly as shame will allow is not going to turn out well. Good things will never come of this. The discomforting question, though, is what anyone can do about it at this point. It is already here.