The Republican Party is now truly, utterly depraved

This not some, oh, isn’t it fun to say bad things about Republicans.  No, this is… my God it is incredibly scary for democracy just how insane and reveling in democratic norms the Republican Party has become.

NYT: “With Falsehoods and Ridicule About Pelosi Attack, Republicans Mimic Trump”

Speaking on a conservative radio talk show on Tuesday, former President Donald J. Trump amplified a conspiracy theory about the grisly attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, that falsely suggested that Mr. Pelosi may not have been the victim of a genuine attack.

“Weird things going on in that household in the last couple of weeks,” Mr. Trump said on the Chris Stigall show, winking at a lie that has flourished in right-wing media and is increasingly being given credence by Republicans. “The glass, it seems, was broken from the inside to the out — so it wasn’t a break-in, it was a break out.”

There is no evidence to suggest that. Mr. Pelosi, 82, was attacked on Friday with a hammer by a suspect who federal prosecutors say invaded the Pelosis’ San Francisco home, bent on kidnapping the speaker and shattering her kneecaps.

But Mr. Trump, a longtime trafficker in conspiracy theories who propelled his political rise with the lie that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, has never let such facts get in his way.

The reaction to the assault on Mr. Pelosi among Republicans — who have circulated conspiracy theories about it, dismissed it as an act of random violence and made the Pelosis the punchline of a dark joke — underscores how thoroughly the G.O.P. has internalized his example. It suggested that Republicans have come to conclude that, like Mr. Trump, they will pay no political price for attacks on their opponents, however meanspirited, inflammatory or false.

If anything, some Republicans seem to believe they will be rewarded by their right-wing base for such coarseness — or even suffer political consequences if they do not join in and show that they are in on the joke.

“LOL,” Representative Claudia Tenney, Republican of New York, who is up for re-election in a competitive district, tweeted on Friday night, circulating a photograph that showed a group of young, white men holding oversized hammers beside a gay Pride flag.

On Sunday, Representative Clay Higgins, Republican of Louisiana, who is in line to helm a Homeland Security subcommittee if his party wins control of the House next week, also amplified a groundless and homophobic conspiracy theory hatched on the right about the attack. He tweeted, but later removed, a picture of Ms. Pelosi with her hands covering her eyes, with the caption: “That moment you realize the nudist hippie male prostitute LSD guy was the reason your husband didn’t make it to your fundraiser.”

Seriously what can you reasonably term this reaction other than “depravity”?  Are there no sane Republicans left to speak out against this?  Have they all sold their souls on the altar of Trumpism (sadly, yes, we know the answer to that)

Great stuff from Tom Nichols:

January 6 was not an outlier. Laughing over a hammer attack on an old man, the GOP has completed its transition from a political party to a brutal mob.

A Spreading Cancer

It might seem late in the game to point to any one event as a final or conclusive moment in the decline of the Republican Party. And I have no doubt that if the GOP returns to power this winter, its worst members will find new ways to appall decent people while gamboling about in jester’s bells for its base. (As my Atlantic colleague Adam Serwer has put it so well, “The cruelty is the point.”) But the reaction among Republican elected officials and their conservative-media life-support system to the beating of Paul Pelosi—by a man named David DePape, who was charged with attempting to kidnap Speaker Nancy Pelosi and admitted to planning to torture her—feels different.

I am not alone; my friend Mona Charen, among others, also senses that this event marks a new level of depravity in the GOP. I have struggled for a few days to decide why, exactly, this moment seems like an inflection point. In terms of actual damage, January 6 was far worse than one violent crime in San Francisco. Republican leaders—and here I will leave aside Donald Trump, who is in a class of hideousness all by himself—have said far worse things over the past five years. But a parade of Republicans somehow think that an unhinged, hammer-wielding intruder putting an old man in the ICU is funny.

We might expect such inanity from pathetic attention hounds such as Donald Trump Jr. and the usual conservative troll-pundits. Some of them tried to get a rumor about Paul Pelosi trending and briefly succeeded, especially when Twitter’s new boss, Elon Musk, characteristically decided that he just had to get involved in something he knows nothing about and amplified a dodgy story about it on Twitter. (He later deleted the tweet.) GOP leaders, however, stayed silent.

But that didn’t stop people in both right-wing politics and media from laughing it up over the Pelosi attack, including the Arizona gubernatorial contender Kari Lake, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, and sitting Representative Clay Higgins. Others have joined in trying to obfuscate or deflect attention from the intent of the attack; Senator John Cornyn of Texas even lamely tried to raise immigration as an issue. (DePape is here on a long-expired visa from Canada.)

One might think that it would be easy for America, as one nation, to condemn an attempt to kidnap the woman second in line to the presidency that resulted in the beating of her husband with a hammer. As Ernest Hemingway would say: Pretty to think so. Instead, we have seen the dark heart of the Republican Party, with a reaction so callous, so flippantly sadistic, so hateful, that it all feels irredeemable.

Oh, and apropos of my last post:

Of course, Republicans have put on a master class in whataboutism over the past few days. What about the people who laughed at Rand Paul’s neighbor giving the Kentucky senator a beatdown? What about Kathy Griffin’s ugly photograph of her holding up a mask representing Trump’s severed head? And, most of all, what about James Hodgkinson, who shot at a group of GOP political officials and nearly killed Representative Steve Scalise? These are all said with triumph, as if the transformation of the GOP into a violent mob is rendered moot by these examples…

The problem is that the GOP and their media footmen are flooding the zone with hate, and creating more potential DePapes every day. There is no equivalence here; it’s not liberals who are threatening election officials, stalking ballot boxes with guns, or barraging Congress’s phones and inboxes daily with threats. January 6 should have been our warning that these messages have real power, and yet that terrible day has already receded from our collective memory…

Sadistic glee in harming others is a sin (at least in my faith). But it is also a social cancer, a rot that can spread quickly and kill the spirit of democracy. If all attempts at reason and all offers of friendship fail, the rest of us should shun those whose dark hearts encourage them to revel in such poison. Unfortunately, millions of our fellow citizens seem poised to vote many such people into power. The darkness is spreading.

But what about Stacy Abrams?

Interesting moment in class today.  I had asked my class to watch this 60 Minutes segment on Arizona election denialism, which is, potentially a huge problem.  This is very, very not good and scary as hell as to what it may portend for 2024.  You should watch it. And prepare to be upset.

It was interesting to be met with a “but what about when Stacy Abrams said…” from one of my right-leaning students.  Now, I would happily get into the weeds about how the context was very different, etc.,. etc., (okay, not happily, it would take too long, so I briefly touched on whataboutism as a rhetorical strategy).  But also, it actually does kind of suck just how extreme Abrams was in speaking about her lost 2018 gubernatorial bid.  Brian Kemp used the levers of power in pretty extreme ways that were arguably discriminatory and unfair, but Abram’s had a lot of pretty extreme comments.  This Post article summarizing the controversy is excellent:

For instance, Abrams at various times has said the election was “stolen” and even, in a New York Times interview, that “I won.” She suggested that election laws were “rigged” and that it was “not a free or fair election.” She also claimed that voter suppression was to blame for her loss, even though she admitted she could not “empirically” prove that. While she did acknowledged Kemp was the governor, she refused to say he was the “legitimate” governor.

Now, what she’s saying now sounds a lot better:

Stacey Abrams on Monday cautioned against conflating her refusal to concede in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race with former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, calling the latter wrong and dangerous for democracy.

“I will never ever say that it is OK to claim fraudulent outcomes as a way to give yourself power,” Abrams said. “That is wrong. I reject it and will never engage in it. But I do believe that it is imperative, especially those who have the platform and the microphone, to talk about the access.”

Abrams acknowledged her loss to Kemp days after the 2018 election. But she attributed that defeat — by less than 1.4 percentage points — to efforts by Kemp, then the secretary of state, to suppress voter turnout. Kemp denied the allegations.

“The issues that I raised in 2018 were not grounded in making me the governor,” Abrams told The 19th’s Editor-at-Large Errin Haines at a Monday event. “Not a single lawsuit filed would have reversed or changed the outcome of the election. My point was that the access to the election was flawed, and I refuse to concede a system that permits citizens to be denied access. That is very different than someone claiming fraudulent outcome.”

Now, those are excellent points.  But, saying “I won” and calling the election “rigged” really are not great. Of course, if Stacy Abrams hadn’t said these things, Republicans would surely have some other excuses for the Big Lie and how there’s nothing troublesome at all about what’s going on in Arizona, so why am I even bothering with what Stacy Abrams even said?  

The huge problem is that a number of states seem poised to elect state officials who administer elections and seemingly believe that a Democrat cannot legitimately win a statewide election in their state.  That’s a huge problem.  No matter what Stacy Abrams said.  

[Now go watch this]

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