I actually made it to the gym today!! That always makes it a better day, especially when I find a good podcast to listen to. I found Lawfare on Twitter about a year ago and it has been a wonderful resource during the Mueller investigation and the Ukraine affair. They often tweet about the most recent news along with podcasts of panel discussions, op-eds, analysis threads or whatever. Benjamin Wittes is part of the Brookings Institute and is the founder of Lawfare. Quinta Jurecic is one of the managing editors of Lawfare and she conducted the interview on this particular podcast. I follow both Wittes and Jurecic on Twitter.
The podcast is part of a series called, Arbiters of Truth, which is four The Lawfare Podcast: Ben Nimmo on the Whack-a-Mole Game of Disinformation. For a while now, I have been thinking about disinformation, propaganda campaigns, and the reasons we lie to ourselves and allow ourselves to be lied to. This podcast was extremely insightful on the ways in which modern communication systems have allowed and fostered disinformation and new ways we are learning to fight it.
It was extremely cognitively dissonant for me, but yesterday I actually forced myself to listen to both the opening and the closing statements of Devin Nunes in the house impeachment hearings. I also listened to many other jarring things Republicans said like Brad Wenstrup when he tried to blame the impeachment proceedings on a Democratic attempt at a coup motivated by a desire for revenge and unreasonable hatred born of an inability to cope with an election outcome that was disappointing. His expressions of patronizing sympathy and lamentations about partisanship were nauseating. His complete denial of any responsibility to Trump for creating this impeachment inquiry is stunning, if not unexpected. Devin Nunes’s crafting of a creative fictional alternative reality that sows discord and confusion among the electorate while accusing his opponents of that very act, was disturbingly fascinating. Kind of like watching a Tarantula hawk larvae consume the brain of a living tarantula; it’s so horrible you’re hypnotized by the morbid spectacle. Then there was the incredibly disappointing minimization of Will Hurd who at least tried to engage with the reality of the situation. He said the call was wrong, but not impeachable. If that’s the best the Republican Party can do against their rogue president, it is unlikely that Trump will face any meaningful consequences for his daily assault on our democratic institutions and processes.
How did we get to this lamentable place? How can all these incredibly brave and patriotic Americans who have testified this week in the hearings make so little difference in the hearts and minds of the Republican members of our House of Representatives and their constituents? Why do facts and truth seem to matter so little to them? It is because they are in an abusive relationship with Trump. Like an abused spouse and his or her system of victims and enablers, they must minimize, deny, and defend their abusers. It is built into the abusive system. Unfortunately, the entire world is being victimized by Trump. The only people who can do anything about it are under a campaign of disinformation that clouds their view of what is really happening.
Denial is a powerful drug. It is so incredibly sad to me to see half of my country deceived by a charlatan. At a time when we should be supporting the Kurds, the Ukrainians, and the Hong Kong protestors as they fight for freedom and the rights of their people around the world, we are paralysed by disinformation, cowardice, and partisan selfishness. We are no longer one nation under God. We are divided and weak. As long as America is hobbled like this, the despots of the world breathe a sigh of relief and those who fight against them are discouraged.
Anyone who contents themselves with the idea that Trump might be beaten in the next election, don’t count on it. With his son being investigated, Biden is already dropping in the primary polls. Biden is the best candidate to challenge Trump and the constant barrage of bad press will be almost impossible to overcome in a crowded primary. Trump is successfully crippling his best opponent. If he doesn’t face consequences for his cheating, he will be emboldened and his aggression will escalate. He will use his formidable power to launch smear campaigns against all of his opponents. This will make his reelection almost inevitable. His supporters rabidly consume disinformation and conspiracy theories. They double and triple down in the face of overwhelming abuses of power. We are a full year away from the next election. If this impeachment and removal doesn’t happen, it is very unlikely that we will have anything like a fair election. If we still manage against all odds to vote him out in 2020, he will claim that it wasn’t fair and then refuse to leave office. At some point we have to face the reality that we have a big problem. We have elected a dictator and he will not leave quietly.