10 November 2010

The Era of the Big Lie

Back in April, I posted an analysis of the rumors Snopes.com had collected and analyzed about the last two Presidents. I concluded: “This evidence accumulated over ten years shows a shameful but undeniable fact of American politics: our right wing now contains a lot more liars, and a lot more folks who spread lies out of gullibility or wishfulness, than our left wing.” That posting got picked up by Salon, and then linked to from a variety of other websites.

Now Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic looks at the right’s “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.
Sullivan goes on to document how many right-wing “intellectuals” have misquoted President Obama on a single, symbolic issue—“American exceptionalism.”

I suspect we’ll see a lot more of this from the new Republican House leadership and their allies, given that their promises can’t mathematically add up, and that their standard operating procedure will most likely prolong the recession their party’s last president left us with.

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