Andrew Sullivan on the Big Lie:
If a black Republican president had come in, helped turn around the banking and auto industries (at a small profit!), insured millions through the private sector while cutting Medicare, overseen a sharp decline in illegal immigration, ramped up the war in Afghanistan, reinstituted pay-as-you go in the Congress, set up a debt commission to offer hard choices for future debt reduction, and seen private sector job growth outstrip the public sector’s in a slow but dogged recovery, somehow I don’t think that Republican would be regarded as a socialist.
This is the era of the Big Lie, in other words, and it translates into a lot of little lies – “death panels,” “out-of-control” spending, “apologies for America” etc. – designed to concoct a false narrative so simple and so familiar it actually succeeded in getting into people’s minds in the midst of a brutal recession. And integral to this process have been conservative “intellectuals” who should and do know better, but have long since sacrificed intellectual honesty for the cheap thrills of enabling power-grabs.
Aside from the fact that the Republicans and the right wing had decided long before January 20, 2009, that the Obama presidency would be a failure and that they would do everything they could to make it so, the simple fact remains that human nature is such that it is easier to convince the people that a vapor trail off the coast of California is a precursor to an invasion by the Borg than it is to convince 95% of the taxpaying public that their taxes actually went down last year. The more outrageous the story, the easier it is to sell. Orson Welles knew that in 1938; so did P.T. Barnum, and so did the folks who came up with the whiz-bang story that the universe was created in six days. After all, which sounds better; the Garden of Eden and a talking snake or a long boring science lecture on microbes adapting to a planet with carbon and water?
It is one thing, however, to be fascinated by fiction and the tales of the supernatural; it is another to be deliberately lied to by presumably intelligent people who know better but do it anyway to pursue their own political agenda. It’s very difficult to have a conversation about how to solve our problems when you’re dealing with people who are knowingly distorting the facts and face no consequences for their mendacity and hypocrisy. They’re not embarrassed or ashamed, either, and when you finally get their attention long enough to get them to hear you call them out on it, they either claim that they’re the victims of a smear campaign or that both sides do it equally. The first is an infantile evasion; the second is pure bullshit.
Knowing that, we can at least go forward with a clear vision about some things that will never change. Lucy will never let Charlie Brown kick the football, they will always fuck you at the drive-thru, and Republicans will never accept the idea that anyone other than a Republican should ever be elected president.
HT to Farlow.