Disinformation

Last week, a Michigan congresswoman whose existence had not yet entered the rest of the country’s consciousness credited Donald Trump with having “caught Osama bin Laden,” among other terrorists. It is difficult to forget that night in 2011 when Barack Obama told the world that, on his orders, a team of Navy commandos had killed the al-Qaeda leader. But Representative Lisa McClain, a first-term member of Congress, showed that, with effort, and with a desire to feed Trump’s delusions and maintain her standing among his supporters, anything is possible.

In ordinary times, McClain’s claim would have been mocked and then forgotten. But because these are not ordinary times—these are times in which citizens of the same country live in entirely different information realities—I put her assertion about bin Laden on a kind of watch list. In six months, I worry, we may learn that a provably false claim made by a single unserious congressional backbencher has spread into MAGA America, a place where Barack Obama is believed to be a Kenyan-born Muslim and Donald Trump is thought to be the victim of a coup.

Disinformation is the story of our age. We see it at work in Russia, whose citizens have been led to believe the lies that Ukraine is an aggressor nation and that the Russian army is winning a war against modern-day Nazis. We see it at work in Europe and the Middle East, where conspiracies about hidden hands and occult forces are adopted by those who, in the words of the historian Walter Russell Mead, lack the ability to “see the world clearly and discern cause and effect relations in complex social settings.” We see it weaponized by authoritarians around the globe, for whom democracy, accountability, and transparency pose mortal threats. And we see it, of course, in our own country, in which tens of millions of voters believe that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president because the man he beat in 2020 specializes in sabotaging reality for personal and political gain…

Read this and weep for an ignorant nation, for citizens deluded by trained parrots to feed the quest for power by the greedy and unprincipled.

Republicans Are as Excited for Trump’s Upcoming Rallies as They Are for Their Next Colonoscopy

Earlier this month we learned that Donald Trump is expected to bring back his campaign-style rallies this summer, and, like a reboot of a show that no one asked for or wants, few people are thrilled about the development. Democrats obviously are unenthused about the trio of events the guy who tried (and is still trying!) to overturn the election has planned, but apparently some Republicans are equally unhappy about Trump‘s return to the stump.

Politico reports that Republicans in Washington are “dreading” the 45th president’s upcoming rallies, fearful that the new platform—from which he’ll no doubt spew baseless election-fraud conspiracy theories, among other grievances—could derail their chances in the midterm elections, when they’re hoping to take back the Senate and House. “If we win the majority back in 17 months, it’s going to be in spite of Trump—not because of Trump,” one senior House Republican aide, who works for a lawmaker considered to be one of Trump’s top supporters, told Politico. “He will totally take credit if we win the House back—but it won’t be because of him. This guy is a disaster.”

Any victories won, of course, Trumpo will take credit. Even where obvious they are in spite of his presence. But, then, the Republican Party isn’t doing anything in the interim to differentiate themselves from this corrupt disaster. Neither Trump nor his butt-kissers-in-charge of the sinking ship are worth anything to the nation or to what remains of conservative politics outside of the brigade of racists and fools in charge of his party.