They say denial is a river in Egypt, but these days, it would be more accurate to say it’s a political party represented by an elephant. The phenomenon is nothing new, of course; millions of Americans believed and (against all evidence) still believe, say, that cutting taxes increases revenue, going all the way back to when St. Ronnie could still find his way to the rest room unaided. Once such transparent poppycock went over, and went over big, Republicans were off to the races.
Oh, there were bumps in the road here and there, like when Reagan blamed trees for air pollution, but by and large, when confronted with discrediting facts, the right has been disturbingly successful in blaming the liberal media, academia, or, in a pinch, Hollywood, for leading the sheeple to at least intermittently allow their beliefs to comport with observable reality.
But once the end of the Fairness Doctrine turned AM radio into a Republican Ministry of Truth, and Fox News jazzed it up with slick graphics and brassy blondes, a universe was created in which facts weren’t just the “stupid things” Reagan (accidentally?) called them, but for Republicans, they became akin to garlic in a roomful of vampires. Indeed, the more overwhelming the evidence to the contrary, the more stubbornly Republicans clung to the cuckoo myth du jour.
On Planet Republican they don’t just believe, as the Red Queen did, three impossible things before breakfast; they believe dozens of them before they even wake up. Vince Foster was murdered. Hillary Clinton, though ordinarily a lesbian, was having an affair with him. Her husband was a drug runner and had killed scores of people when he wasn’t having coke-filled orgies with hookers in the White House. The weapons of mass destruction were found, and on and on.
Sometimes, whatever preposterous nonsense being put forth served an obvious political purpose: refusal to accept the increasingly insurmountable evidence for Global Warming successfully stalled any action to cut carbon emissions just as surely as the addled belief that lower taxes on the rich would create prosperity for all did make a lot of donors happy. Other times, the lies were propounded seemingly for the sheer pleasure of it and to reinforce tribal identity among the “victimized” believers: Hitler was a liberal and Democrats want to get rid of Christmas? Really?
My mother used to say about this tendency of the successfully mendacious to overreach, “The first liar doesn’t stand a chance,” but as time goes on and the polling for November continues to roll in, I’m beginning to think that the last liar may be equally imperiled. It’s one thing to say, ad nauseam, that the media is in the tank for the Democrats, but it seems to me quite another to say that the pollsters are as well. For once, it may be because, rather than in spite of, the fact that Republicans are so divorced from reality that they not only are poised to lose the White House, but a bunch of once-safe House and Senate seats, too.
You might sort of believe the guy at the bar when he says he once got lucky with one of the prettier cocktail waitresses, but when he goes on to add that later that night he also had a three-way with Pamela Anderson and Madonna, you call for the check. Lying works, until it doesn’t, and that’s what appears to be happening now.