[For brief comment on why we shouldn’t anoint Hillary quite yet, click here.
Yesterday Mitt Romney made a political firestorm by speaking out forcefully against Donald Trump. Mitt was shocked, shocked to find that the leading GOP candidate for the presidency is running a campaign of lies, bigotry and fairy tales.
Mitt’s forthrightness was refreshing. Donald Trump would in fact be an absolute disaster as president. He could easily bring on the species self-extinction that we and the Russians (in their Soviet guise) barely avoided in 1962.
In speaking out, Mitt exploited his position as the unacknowledged de facto
leader of his party. Although he lost in 2012, no one else can credibly claim the mantle of leadership. If you wanted to find someone else with comparable influence, you would have to dip deep into the toilet and pick the human abomination known as Rush Limbaugh, or the catatonic racist-extremist-obstructionist who now passes for Senate Majority Leader.
So for once in his political life super-salesman Mitt did the right thing. He relied on his prestige and waning name recognition to speak truth.
Yet soul-crushing irony marred the effect of his doing so. Mitt reminded us all of one definition of “chutspah”—a boy killing both his parents and then begging the court for mercy because he is an orphan.
For Mitt and the GOP have built not just this
campaign, but the last several, on lies, bigotry and fairy tales. They have done so by willfully exploiting human history’s most monstrous propaganda machine, Fox, with the flimsy excuse that Fox is private and “unofficial.” Whether by design or negligence, they have created the ignorant and uncontrollable rabble known oxymoronically as the “Tea Party,” whose uninformed and deluded members drive Trump’s candidacy.
The ironies begin with inexperience. Mitt rightly accused The Donald of lacking political experience. But Mitt himself, had he won, would have been the least experienced president in American history
, unless you count experience in a “vulture” private-equity fund.
It gets worse, much worse. Here are just a few of the many, many lies and fairy tales that Fox and GOP operatives have spewed for decades, and that GOP pols like Mitt and John Boehner have fostered with winks, nods and strategic silence:
1. Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by wimpy, left-wing scientists to raise energy prices and deprive Joe Six-Pack of his muscle car.
2. We can solve our immigration difficulties by building a wall and throwing out or continuing to marginalize our undocumented immigrants.
3. The President is a Muslim, a radical leftist, a socialist and (in his exercise of presidential power) a fascist.
4. Islam is a dangerous, inherently violent religion; the United States is a Christian nation that can evade terrorism by excluding or marginalizing Muslims here and abroad.
5. Dubya’s War in Iraq was a wise move and has been a success.
6. There is a military solution to the explosion of instability in the Middle East, and it involves decisive use of American military power.
7. France is a wimpy socialist nation is steep decline; it deserves to be ignored and scorned.
8. There is nothing wrong with this country’s economy that lower taxes, less regulation, and more power in the hands of the rich won’t solve.
9. The rampant negativity and obstructionism of the GOP during Barack Obama’s administration has been a proper use of our Constitution, of which our Founders would be proud.
There are, of course, additional lies, bigotry and fairy tales. But these are perhaps the worst. Fox has spewed them 24-7-365 for most of a generation. And now Mitt and the GOP are shocked, shocked to find that a substantial minority of the GOP believes them and wants to act on them.
Remember the Tylenol scare
? Vandals unknown laced a few bottles of Tylenol with poison. A few buyers died. At first, the producer (Johnson & Johnson) tried the “public relations” solution. It denied the problem and pointed out that only a handful of the millions of bottles on the market had been involved. Its stock plunged, along with sales of Tylenol and its reputation; a useful product was about to be crushed.
So management quickly forsook the PR “solution” for truth and action. It acknowledged the problem, recalled millions of bottles of Tylenol, offered buyers refunds, and installed tamper-proof seals on its bottles. It warned buyers not to take Tylenol from bottles without seals. In a fews months, if not weeks, its stock and reputation recovered. Today Tylenol is a respected brand among over-the-counter pain killers.
For decades, Fox and the GOP have offered the public PR “analysis” and PR “solutions” to our very real problems. They have prescribed denial, lies, bigotry, and fear. In an Orwellian twist, Fox has touted itself as “fair and balanced.” Yet its fairy tales are every bit as fantastic as Trump’s assertion that he can build a wall to keep Mexican “rapists” and “criminals” out and get Mexico to pay for it.
The GOP has not just been tacitly complicit. It has been a co-conspirator with Murdoch in destroying our nation’s collective contact with reality and our social cohesion. With a wink, a nod and a knowing smirk, the GOP has encouraged its public to believe things than any intelligent, educated person knows to be dangerous lies.
The results are the Tea Party and Donald Trump’s leading candidacy.
But Trump has a difference. Among his lies and fairy tales are some inconvenient truths. He has said that Dubya did not keep us safe, but failed to stop 9/11 although a memo about an impending Al Qaeda attack was on Condalleezza Rice’s desk. Practically alone among GOP leaders, he has said that Dubya’s unnecessary war in Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster. Most of all, Trump has made the logical connection between the GOP’s extreme policy of moving jobs, industries, taxes and profits abroad and the disaster that has befallen American workers.
So rail, Mitt, rail. Rail against the “injustice” and absurdity of a man like Trump having a serious chance to become president of the United States. But know, Mitt and all our so-called GOP “leaders,” that you created this monster, all by yourselves.
Trump is your
monster, and now you have to deal with him. A good place to begin would be by chucking out Karl Rove and the other PR “operatives” and starting to think about real solutions to real problems.
Maybe if you put tamper-proof seals on all the poison you’ve been selling for a generation, you can resurrect your party and your “brand,” just like Tylenol. But that’s a hard thing to do in just a few months, in the middle of a campaign season.
Mitt’s entire experience in political office consisted of a single term—four years—as governor of Massachusetts. The least experienced actual president in our history (if you count our general-presidents’ high military command as experience) was Dubya, with only six years as governor of Texas.