Much has been made recently of Mitt Romney’s refusal to explicitly condemn Donald Trump’s renewed “birther” claims against President Obama. Personally, I think Romney has done his part to distance himself from Trump’s nonsense, if not in a quiet manner. The man simply needs Trump’s money, and he can’t be personally responsible for every donor’s belief system.
Still, the media continues to hound him; and therein lie the perils of being a politician in the Media Age — especially the Republican nominee for President.
Can you even imagine what it must be like to be the relatively sane-minded Mitt Romney and have to keep all the various bizarre splinter groups of the GOP happy enough to vote for you? God, what a tightrope that must be to walk. You’ve got your normal, intelligent, business-minded Republicans; but you’ve also got your evangelical, “I live my life by every literal word of the Bible” conservative-values Republicans, and your redneck/Ted Nugent, “Guns don’t kill people, I do” Republicans — just to name a few groups.
And then there’s the different combinations those people might be as individuals. Can you picture yourself in an enclosed room having a conversation with someone who says, “Obama’s a Muslim-Communist who wants to put his government hands on my Medicare and destroy my religion” while dressed up like a reject from the Revolutionary War AND carrying a concealed handgun? Where do you start trying to untangle the idiocy and nonsense in that situation?
Well, I guess if you’re a decent and sane person, you smile and you try to walk away without insulting them.
And that’s what Mitt Romney does. He smiles (if you can call that a smile), and he walks away. And I’m okay with that. Because if it were me in that cuckoo’s nest of crazy people, I’d give up, and look for a means of escape by throwing the bathroom sink out the window and running for the hills.
But still there is the matter of Trump. He’s the one I’d like to focus on here, because he’s the one that is most indicative of a growing and major problem on that side of the aisle: a rejection of fact. And not only that, but an unwillingness to accept anything but opinion AS fact. And Donald Trump is the poster-boy for that currently.
Imagine the futility of this argument: You believe X is true. X can be disproved flatly by evidence Y. Evidence Y appears in a very public fashion. But you ignore evidence Y and go right on ahead with your belief in X.
I’m not talking about a “Pro-Choice/Pro-Life” gray-area type of issue/argument. I mean numbers, and dates, and solvable, flat questions where the research has been done, and these things are known as true or false. Republicans like Trump (and those who identify with him) are getting really, really gifted at that sort of denial lately; and, worse yet, the GOP is aligning policy and talking points to cater to the delusional and paranoid.
Consider the following:
They believe (or, at least, say) climate change is a hoax. A mountain of science disproves that belief. They ignore it and go on ahead believing it’s not happening-- and in growing numbers.
They deny evolution. There’s a staggering amount of geological, biological, and antropological evidence that proves humans weren’t riding around on dinosaurs. Yet the best you can hope from these people is some sort of hybrid creationism/evolution combination so they don’t have to admit that the Bible is full of wonderful stories and moral teachings, but is sometimes factually fallible.
And, of course, they believe President Obama was born in Kenya, despite the long-form birth certificate’s release which disproves that claim.
(Oh, and then there’s the matter of the birth announcements in two Hawaii papers in 1961. Factcheck.org has a great quote on that: “Of course, it’s distantly possible that Obama’s grandparents may have planted the announcement just in case their grandson needed to prove his U.S. citizenship in order to run for president someday.”)
Given a wider scope, this line of thinking sort of threatens the fabric of American reality. Stop for a minute and imagine if the rest of our society worked this way:
ME: Your Honor, I know it looks like I assaulted the cashier at the Walgreens by beating her up with a pool noodle, but that’s just not true.
JUDGE: But, Patrick, there’s six camera angles of video that show you doing it. We’re going to have to go to trial here.
ME: Yeah, but those were faked by the liberal media.
JUDGE: And the customer who took the video of the incident that was immediately uploaded to YouTube?
JUDGE: And the fact that there’s DNA from both you and the cashier on the pool noodle?
ME: False. Liberal scientists have you brainwashed.
JUDGE: And the fact that you actually purchased the pool noodle before beating the cashier, with your credit card, and signed the receipt?
JUDGE: Sounds good. You’re free to go.
ME: Excellent. There’s a pool party at my place tomorrow. You should come by.
So, either Donald Trump is a bona-fide crazy person, or he’s playing a lunatic on television because he knows there’s an audience who believes what he says (whether or not he actually does himself). The real question is whether or not this method of operation will eventually cease within the Republican Party, or if they will continue to publicly align their candidates with persons, beliefs, and media events that extol an air of delusion, paranoia, and denial of fact.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, someone who keeps calling herself my “wife” wants me to do the dishes. I don’t think I’m gonna, though. I think that signed marriage license she keeps waving around is a fake.