We’ve spent the past couple of weeks scrutinizing the farce that is the Benghazi investigation. Conservatives’ central preoccupation is that Hillary Clinton may have lied to the public, ascribing the attack to a spontaneous protest over a video, when she knew it was planned. Of course Hillary Clinton never told the public that the attack proceeded from a protest over a video. The big lie that we’ve uncovered is the fact that the GOP has pursued the current congressional investigation into Benghazi – the eighth such inquiry – primarily to harm Clinton’s presidential campaign – not to discover whatever “truth” managed to escape detection by seven previous congressional investigations.
Real liars are readily found among the GOP’s miserable field of presidential candidates. Ben Carson is presently dealing with two whoppers, one old and one new. In his self-aggrandizing memoir, he claims he was accepted into West Point. We’ve now learned that that was an utter lie – that he never even applied to the school. But we might regard that as the lesser of two lies he’s recently been called on. CNBC took him to task during the debate over the fact that his tax plan would put the US back into trillion-dollar deficits. In Carson’s defense, we leave open the possibility that he isnt a liar, but a math illiterate instead.
Then we have Marco Rubio’s tax plan, which Rubio pitches as a boon to low and middle-income workers. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, the richest 1% of Americans would get six time more tax relief than the poorest 20 percent. In fact, the poorest 20% would receive just 6% of the plan’s total tax relief – while the richest 20% would rake in nearly two-thirds. And Rubio has yet to explain his exploits with Florida GOP credit cards.
Donald Trump famously slandered Mexican immigrants, implying that the bulk of them are criminals. But the Wall Street Journal reported on several studies that bear on this issue. They begin with a threshold observation: that in the past 25 years, as the undocumented immigrant population has tripled, crime rates have fallen by nearly half. Looking at the US prison population, we find that immigrants’ incarceration rate is 63% lower than that of native-born Americans. Among young men, immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador all have especially low incarceration rates. Looking just at California, which has by far the largest population of undocumented immigrants, we find that people born outside the US comprise 35% of all Californians, but just 17% of California’s prisoners.
Then there’s Chris Christie. In the second GOP debate, Christie said, “I was appointed United States attorney on Sept. 10, 2001″ – and made much hay on how the world dramatically changed the very next day. However Christie wasnt even nominated until Dec. 7th, 2001 – and wasnt sworn into office until January 17th, 2002. This doesnt change the fact of his hands-on participation in the war on terror – but the truth makes for a less dramatic narrative – which may be why Christie lied to embellish it.
Remarkably, Carson, Trump and Rubio have all done okay despite their campaigns’ troubled relationship with the truth; Christie’s is tanking for other reasons. This tells us something that we’ve long suspected about the conservative electorate, and their own tenuous relationship with reality. Conservatives have an airtight approach to dealing with information that conflicts with their belief system: they ignore it. This, in fact, is the real secret to maintaining any belief system, no matter the new facts that arrive, nor how the world changes. Lies are as essential to conservatism as facts are to the rest of us.
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