January 28, 2022

The GOP and its Really Bad Truth Ache

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

And a really bad truth ache, left to fester, can be fatal.

The Whigs learned that the hard way about 165 years ago. The Republican Party, my old Party, seems determined to prove that what was good enough for the Whigs is good enough for today’s GOP. The Whigs of the 19th century couldn’t unite against slavery and quickly faded into oblivion. Today’s GOP can’t unite against a lie, a lie that has become a litmus test demanded by the Party’s leader, the defeated former President of the United States, Donald Trump.

When political parties commit to embracing an immense and dangerous lie, they and the country they aspire to lead are in grave danger. Today, we have a political party dedicated to perpetuating the biggest political falsehood in the nation’s history. And it is, simply, a lie too far. The Party seems to have no sense of history of where parties and movements in the thrall of demagogues and prevaricators invariably wind up.

Now, to be sure, fibbing and politicking, unfortunately, do go hand-in-hand. Savaging the truth here, exaggerating a bit there, deflecting blame for the bad, and grabbing credit for the good—all tools in many a politician’s tool kit.

History, including our history, is replete with prevaricating heads of state. Even George Washington was quite willing, on occasion, to stretch the truth. It was, after all, French military genius Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau who strategized the defeat of British General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, and not General George Washington. However, the father of our nation was not above taking credit for the historic victory.

To name a few others:

Hiroshima was a city and not a military base, as Harry Truman assured the nation when announcing the bombing that ended World War Two;

Gary Powers was not flying a U2 weather plane, as President Eisenhower explained when the Russians shot him down;

Lyndon Johnson justified ramping up American military action in Vietnam by claiming we were attacked in an attack that never happened.

Nixon’s protestations that no one at the White House knew of the Watergate break-in was, of course, a lie, 

The Reagan Administration did trade arms for hostages despite the Gipper’s assurance that we hadn’t,

There was never any evidence that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction, as President George W. Bush assured the nation.

And, yes, President Obama certainly knew (contrary to what he said) that if you liked your doctor and you liked your insurance plan, there was a good chance you would not be able to keep either with Obamacare.

 Do not, however, equate the prevailing Republican commitment to the lie that the 2020 election was sabotaged and that Donald Trump had the election stolen from him with the self-serving truth benders enumerated above. Campaign rants echoed throughout the country that promulgate, and depend on, a colossal lie designed to diminish trust in American elections is not the stuff of rhetorical discretion. It is, instead, the stuff of an authoritarian power grab. And Republican leadership, today, is either ignoring this danger, succumbing to this threat, or actively engaging in the biggest prevarication ever embraced by an American political party. 

It is a sad and dangerous game they play. By refusing to call out the Trump stolen-election farce for what it is, the GOP is tying its future to a lie of unprecedented proportions in an ongoing scheme to undermine America’s faith in its elections. The Republican Party, with eyes wide open, is recklessly jeopardizing every semblance of credibility it ever had. And to what purpose? Simply to appease an angry, defeated, unrepentant former president, who demands eternal loyalty, and who threatens to destroy those who deny him such subservience.

A new generation of Republicans, foolish, selfish, and myopic, has formed a line behind this modern-day, self-absorbed pied piper, who, like his predecessor of Hamelin, will, ultimately, lead those who follow him into oblivion. It is shameful that today’s Republican Party still advertises itself as the Party of Lincoln. What an insult. What a defamation of our sixteenth president. The Republican Party, today, is not even a trace of the Party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or Ronald Reagan. It is no longer even the Party of Paul Ryan or Trey Gowdy. It is a new day in Trump’s Republican Party.

As an exemplar of today’s GOP, Matt Gaetz (R-Fla), bragged last month, the old days are gone. What’s coming? “It’s going to be the days of Jim Jordan and Marjorie Taylor Greene, Dr. Paul Gosar and myself,” Gaetz bragged. And he is right; the Jordan-Greene-Gosar-Gaetz quartet is among the leading standard bearers of today’s Republican Party.

So, how is this new iteration of the GOP going to turn America’s constitutional democracy on its head? It might be easier than we dare to think. The Party’s strategy is to scare the electorate into thinking that the nation is ruled by an illegitimate President, a President who was elected in the biggest, most blatant widespread hoax in the nation’s history. Never mind that no evidence has ever been found of such a widespread conspiracy or even a meager coordinated effort to undermine the election. It is a farce to which every Republican candidate for public office must subscribe or risk condemnation by the very Republican, who decisively lost the last election, but who is, decidedly, the undisputed leader of the Party.

The Party unofficially requires that every candidate swallow this bitter pill. No one is to publicly acknowledge that Joe Biden was legally elected President of the United States in 2020. In other words, Republican candidates must, essentially, redefine truth; redefine it to mean that which serves one’s interest, and not that which is accurate or correct. This is the stuff of bygone and dark periods in history.

The Rand Corporation, formerly a part of Douglas Aircraft, is now an independent research and analysis group that, according to its mission statement, is focused on the welfare and security of the United States. It describes our current state of affairs as a crisis of “Truth Decay,” pointing to the diminishing role of truth and facts in American public policy. The entire American experiment waivers as the truth becomes the lowest coin in the political realm.

Boston Globe columnist Renee Graham recently diagnosed the Republican Party’s dilemma quite accurately, writing, “Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, claims the GOP is the Party of Lincoln, but he knows Republicans are the Party of Trump. They have fully embraced the twice-impeached former President’s most potent political weapon — relentless lying.

The Washington Post has determined that 163 Republicans embracing Trump’s lies are candidates for statewide positions that administer elections. Among them are 69 candidates for governor in 30 states, 55 candidates for the U.S. Senate, 13 candidates for state attorney general, and 18 candidates for secretary of state where that office is that of the state’s top election official.

It’s a festering GOP Truth Ache.

 Hold on to your hat America.

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24 responses to “The GOP and its Really Bad Truth Ache”

  1. robin stonehill says:

    Hal Very well expressed and scary for the coming 2022 and 2024 elections

  2. Joanne says:

    Our borders were secure and our foreign policy made sense! Sometimes we have to make tough choices!!

  3. Perry says:

    While you write about Trump and his lies, you fail again to address the collapse of the nation
    under the Democratic administration now in power. This nation is failing not because of one
    person, but of the power structure which elected a man unworthy of governing and yes, unable
    to govern.
    The real story is not Trump, but failure after failure of the current administration and the lack of
    any policies to correct the Ship of State.
    If any party is failing it is the DEMOCRATS err Socialist Democrats.

    • Stephen Prover says:

      Perry,
      This nation is NOT in a state of collapse!
      This nation is not failing.!
      Biden is worthy and far more capable than Trump
      The real story is Trump.
      Get a grip.
      Once in a while it would be a nice break in the dialogue if you could provide one example to support your never changing narrative… Take a break from Fox News
      We get it… You are a Republican

    • Stephen Prover says:

      Perry,
      This nation is NOT in a state of collapse!
      This nation is not failing.!
      Biden is worthy and far more capable than Trump
      The real story is Trump.
      Get a grip.
      Once in a while it would be a nice break in the dialogue if you could provide one example to support your never changing narrative… Take a break from Fox News
      We get it… You are a Republican

    • Please explain how Biden is failing when he has presided over the fastest GROWING economy in decades

    • Dennis Stender says:

      It amazes me( nothing surprises me anymore) that our Republic can be so gullible as to believe a habitual liar like Trump, he has never been held accountable but the real crime is committed by his enablers.

    • Karen A. says:

      Thank you for your response. I feel the same way. I would be willing to bet that if the d…rat party was fully and intimately investigated, most of them would be spending the rest of their lives in prison. While Trump may not be perfect, he was a great president, and this Ukraine war would never have been started. Other than Reagan, Trump was the vert best president of our lifetime, and I pray that he will be able to come back. Would love to see Obama and all of the Bidens in prison for life.

  4. Stephen Prover says:

    Perry,
    The nation is not in a state of collapse….not even close
    The nation is not failing… not even close
    Biden is worthy and quite capable
    The story is Trump

  5. BLB says:

    Totally agree with Perry!!
    Your continuous rants about Trump have become boring. It must be difficult to try to find new “facts” to spew about him rather than address what the American public is concerned about. Might you consider the current administration and their incompetent leader, who is continually spouting lies every time he takes to the microphone or the news waves. Not to mention his equally incompetent Cabinet. All very scary in Real Time…..not your continual hypothesizing about what “might” happen.
    Your generous assumption that ALL Republicans/conservatives think like you suggest needs substantial fact-checking. Please know that a large contingent does not agree that Donald Trump is the “leader of the Party”, but do agree that his policies were excellent and kept us safe. And we knew where he stood on every issue….because he told us every day….even though it might have been difficult to listen to many of his rants. (Some days we yearn for those tweets.)

    I hope you’re enjoying your “new” party and the philosophy/attempts of the Left to lead us down the Socialist path. The examples/and issues are too lengthy to reiterate here. I do hope those who voted for this “old, nice, moderate corrupt politician” are happy with the decline that our country is encountering….not to mention the foreign policy debacle that we have experienced the past year. We have 3 more years to endure…..that is what is scary.
    And, Yes, I will be holding on to my hat (with trembling hands!)

  6. Stuart Goldfine says:

    Bashing Trump is your favorite theme, yet 330 million Americans are left with a senile old man who is simply mentally incompetent to lead our country. Democrats should have left Biden in the cellar, but unfortunately have no other candidates to nominate. Biden is the worst American President in history, a real embarrassment.

    Ask why so many Democrats are not running again in November in the House of Representatives. The Republican Party stands up for patriotic Americans.

    I agree with BLB, Perry, and Joanne.

  7. Jason R. Bellamy says:

    First, with respect to Hal’s column today, I consider it a warning. The states are where voting rights will be won or lost – elections for Governor, AG, Secretary of State, and Election Commissioner. The lies area already so massive, that it may be too late. But to paraphrase James Carville, if we don’t want our country to continue its death spiral into a massive propaganda machine for the benefit of spreading Trump’s lies about voter fraud, Democrats must get on the ball and change their strategy.

    Charlie Sykes, center-right political commentator, this morning, outlined the real-time manifestation of the story that Hal has been shouting from the rooftops for weeks, now. Trump, as the de facto leader of the Republican Party, has unleashed cancer that is destroying our country. He aims to completely dismantle our rule of law and our democratic republic. Violence, pathological lying, and obstruction of justice are his M.O.

    Further, Liz Cheney has reported that some of her Republican colleagues will not challenge him for fear of their lives and the lives of their families.

    It is clear that January 6 was just the beginning. Trump believes he is above the law. Charlie Sykes reports this morning:

    And so last night, the former president dangled pardons for the January 6 insurrectionists and called for massive street protests if he ever faces criminal charges.

    CONROE, Texas — Donald J. Trump said on Saturday that if elected to a new term as president, he would consider pardoning those prosecuted for attacking the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 of last year.

    He also called on his supporters to mount large protests in Atlanta and New York if prosecutors in those cities, who are investigating him and his businesses, take action against him.

    There was nothing veiled about his suggestion that he would hand out get-out-jail-free cards to the rioters — and, by implication, to anyone held legally accountable for his attempted coup.

    “If I run and I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly,” he said, addressing a crowd at a fairground in Conroe, Texas, outside Houston, that appeared to number in the tens of thousands. “We will treat them fairly,” he repeated. “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons, because they are being treated so unfairly.”

    And he addressed the possibility that he might face criminal charges:

    “If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protests we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere because our country and our elections are corrupt,” he said to a rally audience in Conroe, Texas, reading from teleprompters set up on either side of his lectern…

    “They’re trying to put me in jail,” he said. “These prosecutors are vicious, horrible people. They’re racists and they’re very sick. They’re mentally sick. They’re going after me without any protection of my rights by the Supreme Court or most other courts.”

    Sykes continues:

    This stew of sedition and obstruction does not require extended commentary. Trump is not only fully embracing the January 6 Insurrection/Coup (and perhaps the next one), he is also clearly hoping to discourage any sort of cooperation with ongoing investigations. He’s obstructed justice before, and it worked for him.

    • Could not have said it better

    • Karen A. says:

      The d…rats are the enemy of our country. Trump couldn’t think of enough lies in his lifetime to match Biden and all his cronies. Biden has lied to our government and the people for more than 40 years. Why can’t you all put on your big girl/boy panties and realize what is happening to our beloved country because of the left wing. They are selfish and horrible people, and the democratic ideal needs to be burned in hell. And hell is exactly where these idiots are headed for.

  8. Judy Allen says:

    “The Party unofficially requires that every candidate swallow this bitter pill. No one is to publicly acknowledge that Joe Biden was legally elected President of the United States in 2020.”

    Hal, I don’t agree with this broad generalization. Who are you quoting?

    • Harold Gershowitz says:

      The “broad generalization” derives from the practice of Trump labeling any Republican who publicly acknowledges that Biden won the election as a RINO, and the practice of having those Republican candidates being primaried who are critical of the stolen-election farce. That the Republican Party tolerates this behavior constitutes, in my opinion, “unofficial” approval of it.

  9. James Fisher says:

    I completely concur with Stuart’s comments and his expression of appreciation of the comments of BLB, Perry and Joanne. Why not give us your sincere, honest and learned appraisal of President Biden. Do you approve of where they are taking this country?

  10. Barbara Fromm says:

    Separate the swill of all the comments about Biden. Hal’s brilliant piece is about a liar and prevaricator,Donald J. Trump, who continues to cast his spell , negatively, on the Constitution and our beloved country with no regard for democracy.

  11. Steve says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how few people understand how important the rule of law is to our constitution and our country and how many of our elected officials ignore it when convenient. It boggles my mind to think that none of those “patriots” who signed petitions claiming they were duly designated electors for Trump in spite of the fact that their states officials had already sent the certified results of their elections to the National Archives indicating that Biden had won their state. Amazing how many people have difficulty with the truth. If we start putting them in jail maybe they’ll begin to understand it’s importance….unless of course, Trump pardons them.

  12. norman hershfield says:

    Here’s the real question for my Republican friends. Would you rather have a little democratic socialism, like nearly every country in Europe and Japan, all countries, by the way, which now have higher standards of living than the average American, or a Dictator? Because that is what Donald Trump represents today. If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and smells like a duck, then it’s a duck.

  13. m m kaback md says:

    Please read my comment of a week-or-two ago. SOCIOPATHS LIE!

    (and lots of folks bought their SNAKE OIL)! but very few recovered from
    their ailments in so doing…..

  14. David says:

    Hal, Thanks for commentary Truth Ache. I share many of your concerns. I now vote for the person, not the party, which is difficult when no acceptable choices are presented. Two wrongs will not make a right. I expect I will continue writing in ballots when neither party comes up with an acceptable candidate.

  15. Micheal says:

    It amazes me how many will still prefer the big lie to the obvious truth. No, Perry, our country is not falling apart. The economy is healthier than ever. Military is as strong as ever. Once we put the pandemic behind us, there’s a good chance our lives will be back to normal and we can recover from all the threats to our democracy, not to mention our sanity, left over from the previous administration. There should be a huge sigh of relief. Joe Biden is doing a much better job than Andrew Johnson ever did in reuniting the country.

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