The problem we face with the current iteration of the Republican Party isn’t just a matter of their extremist policies. As a matter of fact, other than their embrace of racism, sexism, and homophobia, they’ve become a post-policy party, existing almost solely by fueling grievance and resentment.
But it’s even worse than that. As a party that increasingly finds itself in the minority, they have launched efforts to disrupt our democratic processes via gerrymandering congressional districts and suppressing votes in order to maintain power.
Yet, it is still worse than that. As I noted recently, in their efforts to defend the most corrupt president in this country’s history, they have attempted to destroy the whole concept of facts, evidence, and reason. Nowhere is that more evident than the blatant, shameless lies they insist on telling about Joe Biden.
After the president’s defense team dedicated two segments of their presentation at the Senate trial to repeating those lies, I pointed out that Senator Joni Ernst said the quiet parts out loud when she gleefully suggested that perhaps they would damage Biden in the Iowa caucuses.
It now appears that there is a concerted effort on the part of Senate Republicans to broadcast those lies as widely as possible. The senator from Texas seems to be leading the charge.
The President was justified in investigating #BurismaBiden.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) January 28, 2020
Senator Rick Scott of Florida joined in the smear.
As Mark Sumner tweeted, the whole thing is ridiculous.
You know who has had over five years to investigate Joe Biden and Burisma? That would be Ted Cruz. You know who has done diddly squat? Also Ted Cruz.
Why would that be? Because Cruz, and every other Republican in the Senate knows Biden did nothing wrong.
— Mark Sumner (@Devilstower) January 30, 2020
On Thursday, Greg Sargent proved that Republicans aren’t making these accusations out of ignorance. These senators are knowingly and blatantly lying.
At a Senate hearing in 2016, a number of GOP senators who are still in office today sat in attendance during discussions of the Obama administration’s approach to Ukraine. At those hearings, officials and outside experts repeatedly discussed the need to remove the prosecutor in question—Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor general—describing this imperative as central to official U.S. policy.
What’s more, Joe Biden’s own role in prompting this ouster came up repeatedly, and it was openly and explicitly discussed that the loan guarantees were being used as leverage to bring it about—as U.S. policy.
None of this was treated as remotely controversial at the time…
In recent months, news organizations have convincingly established—in retrospect—that ousting Shokin was U.S. policy at the time, backed by international institutions, because his office was actually facilitating corruption. They’ve also established that Hunter was irrelevant to the investigation into Burisma and that this probe was dormant at the time of the pressure to oust Shokin.
This isn’t about Joe Biden. What we have are Republicans who know the truth, but consciously decide to lie. When they are reminded of the truth, it has no impact: they simply double down on the lies. At this point, not one Republican has spoken up to tell the truth about Joe Biden.
The fact-checkers at the Washington Post came up with a special category for the lies Trump tells repeatedly, even after the truth is clear. They call them “bottomless Pinocchios.” As the entire Republican Party engages in spreading bottomless Pinocchios to protect the president, the whole notion of fact-checking has become pointless. It was originally meant to shame politicians into telling the truth. But obviously, the Republicans are now shameless.
It is worth remembering that, when the Supreme Court forced the Nixon administration to release the Oval Office tapes, hard evidence of the president’s crimes was enough for some Republicans to decide that it was time to hold him accountable. But with the current crop of Republicans, when hard evidence surfaces about Trump’s culpability, they simply shout their lies louder, knowing that the right-wing propaganda machine will provide cover for them.
We can speculate about what drove the Republican Party to this point. But my interest is in figuring out a way forward. At this point, I can’t envision how our democratic republic can survive unless the xenophobic, post-policy, post-truth party dies. As Adam Schiff said so eloquently, “If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost. The framers couldn’t protect us from ourselves if right and truth don’t matter.”
It might be that we are in the process of watching that death happen at an excruciatingly slow pace, which is why the best explanation I can come up with for what we are witnessing is that the Republican Party is like a cornered beast lashing out in every way possible to prevent its inevitable demise. Unfortunately, that’s what hope looks like these days.