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House Republicans Find More Rakes to Step On

 

Republicans are nothing if not tenacious. The idea that you should never back down, for any reason — no matter how idiotic it makes you look — is now core to the GOP brand.

If you’re a Republican, you must train yourself to be oblivious to embarrassment and impervious to irony. There is no lie so shameless that you won’t tell it — and sell it — with a totally straight face.

You bring canned answers to questions you weren’t asked, and no answers to those you were. You sidestep every attempt to pin you down, and you’re never wrong about anything.

But the downside is starting to show. The more Republicans cling to this bull-headed mendacity, the more ridiculous they look. And ridicule might just be the key to the next election.

Whatever one thinks of George Stephanopoulos, his professional take-down of toxic congresswoman Nancy Mace was instructive. She’d been foolish enough to step outside the Fox bubble — to engage with an actual journalist for once — and he prodded her repeatedly to answer a simple question: Having been outspoken about being raped as a teenager, how could she possibly endorse a known rapist for president?

Mace launched into her tired repertoire of deflections, evasions, and outright lies, and she became increasingly frantic to turn it back on Stephanopoulos, to make it about how he was “shaming” her in public. But George was having none of it. He kept repeating the question, and with each deflection she came across as meaner, stupider, and even more despicable.

But Mace is just a sideshow. The main event — ground zero for GOP ridicule— is James Comer’s House Committee on Finding Something (Anything!) to Impeach Joe Biden With.

They’re not having a good year. Comer’s hearings were always a made-for-Fox event. They started with Trump’s insistence that it was very unfair that he’d been put through two impeachments, while Biden hadn’t even had one. This is what passes for logic in the Republican party these days, and his stooges on the committee enthusiastically agreed.

They’d already harassed Biden’s son Hunter for over four years, their vicious allegations never once producing an iota of actual evidence. But while they were able to keep the innuendo about Hunter in the headlines, even in the mainstream media, they never laid a glove on Joe.

For them, it was a bad look from the start, and the ridicule was already ramping up. But you can’t say they didn’t have ample opportunity to walk away.

They could’ve walked away when their so-called witnesses began tanking, one after the other, in embarrassing fashion, leaving Comer to come up with absurd explanations, which he isn’t very good at.

They could’ve walked away when Hunter and his lawyer Abbe Lowell spun them in circles, exposing their lies as Russian disinformation going back at least to the 2020 election.

They could’ve walked away when their star “bombshell” witness, Alexander Smirnov, was exposed as both a liar and a Russian asset, and was then arrested.

They could’ve even walked away when the Democrats started turning the hearings upside-down. Eric Swalwell, with deft facetiousness, used his time to ask Hunter if his father was running any hotels “where foreign nationals spent millions,” or if his father ever employed family members in the Oval Office, or whether anyone in his family had ever received “41 trademarks from China,” and so on. It was perfect political theater, the kind Republicans only wish they could stage, the kind that requires a certain feel for objective reality to pull off.

But still they refused to give up. They waded ever deeper into the muck, behaving in ways that, once upon a time, would have ended their careers immediately. Yet they persisted, stepping on rake after rake.

So by the time the Democrats on the committee invited Lev Parnas to testify, the rake was right there for everyone to see. And they stepped on it anyway.

We all remember Parnas, right? He was Rudy Giuliani’s operative charged with scouring Eastern Europe for dirt on Joe Biden. The idea was to find, from Biden’s past, hard evidence of his corruption in Ukraine — even if they had to make it up. Parnas said they made it up.

He was also involved in the famous “perfect” phone call, where Trump squeezed Zelensky to get him to announce a phony investigation into the Bidens.

All this got Trump impeached and Parnas imprisoned. But not before Parnas provided the FBI with the whole sordid story of Giuliani’s efforts to smear Biden on behalf of Trump.

Parnas was released last September. He has seemingly renounced his dark past — think Michael Cohen — and has been singing to the authorities. And yes, he has a book he wants to sell. But he has warned House Republicans, in writing, that their probe into the Bidens is a “wild goose chase,” which is demeaning to geese (I would’ve called it a ‘shitshow’ myself).

So why, when Parnas was invited by the Democrats to appear, did alarm bells not go off in those feeble Republican brains? Why did they not cancel that day’s hearing on any pretext they could cook up? We’ll never know.

What we do know is that Lev Parnas, on the record and under oath, took a blowtorch to the entire impeachment scam, calling it out for what it was: an ongoing Russian intelligence operation.

In his opening statement, he verified things we’ve always known, but wondered if we’d ever hear:

“The only information ever pushed on the Bidens in Ukraine has come from one source and one source only, Russia and Russian agents.”

He then proceeded to finger a rogue’s gallery of Trump stooges who were “doing the bidding of the Russians” — including Bill Barr, Devin Nunes, Ron Johnson (“He was our guy in the Senate”), Pete Sessions (sitting there in that very committee room), and Sean Hannity (which caused Fox to cut off its coverage mid-hearing).

That the GOP’s slide into fascism is being greased by Russian disinformation is hardly new. But it’s still shocking to hear it in the context of these deeply fraudulent hearings.

Yes, there’s a lot to ridicule in today’s Republican party, and I believe that ridicule will be a valuable weapon in, hopefully, bringing them down. So I’m all in favor of hounding them without mercy.

But underneath the buffoonery, they are bullies with power, and they’re still out to take your lunch money.

So make fun of them, yes, but watch them very carefully.

 

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