Links and Comments: Republican Gaslighting

All of these links just today.

Slate: Republicans Are Gaslighting America. Will It Work?. Subtitle: Night three of the RNC was more revisionist history.


Salon: Mike Pence’s contemptible convention speech: A fable of failure, culture war and corruption. Subtitle: Is this the guy who’s supposed to bring the Republican Party back to reality after Trump? Because he’s a joke.


CNN: Pence reinvents Trump’s presidency on a disorienting night of crises.

So at the shape-shifting Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Trump’s most loyal subordinate Vice President Mike Pence had little option but to do what he does best. He twisted the facts, spun a more pleasing alternative national reality and showered his boss with praise.


NYT, Nicholas Kristoff: ‘We Did the Exact Right Thing,’ Says Our Glorious Leader. Subtitle: So why does the United States have 4 percent of the world’s population and 22 percent of coronavirus deaths?


The New Yorker: Mike Pence’s Big Lie About Trump and the Coronavirus at the Republican National Convention

Wednesday’s address will go down in history as a memorable example of how establishment Republicans like Pence have utterly capitulated to Trump, debasing themselves and their party in the process, and, ultimately, betraying the country, which, in its hour of crisis, deserved honesty rather than pro-Trump spin.


Washington Post: What country does Mike Pence live in?


Vox, Ezra Klein: Those who like government least govern worst. Subtitle: From the Iraq War to the coronavirus: why Republicans fail at governance.

Mostly about the Bush administration’s wilful ignoring of evidence and expertise in its determination to go to war with Iraq, but drawing parallels to the current handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are many differences between Bush and Trump as individuals, and many differences between their administrations. But both of them represent a Republican Party soaked in contempt for, and mistrust of, the federal government. When you don’t respect, or even like, the institution you lead, you lead it poorly. When that institution is incredibly, globally important — as the US government is — leading it poorly can invite global catastrophe. And sure enough, under the last two Republican administrations, it has. There is continuity here, of the most consequential sort: a continuity of terrible outcomes.


NYT, Charlie Warzel: Welcome to the R.N.C.’s Alternate Universe. Subtitle: A meaningful percentage of Americans are living in a collaborative fiction, built one conspiracy theory at a time.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned covering the daily information wars of the Trump era is that a meaningful percentage of Americans live in an alternate reality powered by a completely separate universe of news and information.

Some are armed with their own completely fabricated facts about the world while others, as the journalist Joshua Green wrote in this section in 2017, rearrange our shared facts “to compose an entirely different narrative.” There is little consensus on the top story of the day or the major threats facing the country. You will have noticed this if you’ve ever watched a congressional hearing and flipped between CNN or MSNBC and Fox News. The video feed is the same but the interpretation of events is radically different.

…Fox News has been extremely successful in crafting and selling an alternate reality to its viewers each night for well over a decade. The trick is to evoke two dueling emotions — fear and devotion — one conspiracy theory at a time. Fox News has mastered this and so has the R.N.C.


There’s a parallel between all these examples on the one hand, and on the other hand my musings a few posts ago about how no matter how much humanity learns about the extent and complexity of the real universe, most people won’t care, or will deny it in favor of religious fantasies of one sort or another. Will expand these thoughts soon.

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