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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Obvious Lies

Tom Nichols at The Atlantic:
[If] Trump is doing so well, why is his campaign and its support system in right-wing media resorting to easily disproved lies? Joe Biden’s age has been a brutal factor in keeping his poll numbers low. The president is weaker of voice and stiffer of gait than he was even a few years ago, and more likely now to mangle a word or phrase. The GOP has its pick of examples to use to keep making that case, yet the party resorts to cheap tricks such as deceptive video editing.

Last week, for example, Biden was at the G7 meeting in Italy. The Republican National Committee released a video of him apparently wandering off from a group at a skydiving exhibition, like a confused grandpa looking for the van back to the senior-citizens home. The New York Post dutifully ran with the video. It looked bad—but as presented, it was a lie. Biden was turning to talk to a paratrooper just a few yards to his left.

The RNC video and the Post’s obedient amplification weren’t based on spin or interpretation. Someone had to have looked at that video of Biden in Europe and made the conscious decision to create a lie. Let’s just cut the frame right there so that Biden looks like he wandered off. By the time anyone figures it out, it won’t matter.

The video made the rounds, and maybe that’s all the RNC wanted. A lie, as the saying goes, gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. And, as I often point out, I am a grown-up who has worked with local and national politicians. I am fully aware that politics ain’t beanbag and dirty tricks are part of the game. But if your candidate is doing well, why take the risk? A party that thinks its candidate is in control doesn’t take the chance of pulling the spotlight away from the opponent, which is exactly what happens when campaign operatives get caught in a lie.

The campaign engaged in a similarly baffling move this past weekend, when Trump went to Detroit. The Trump courtier Kellyanne Conway went on Fox News to congratulate him for speaking to 8,000 people at a Black church. Trump did, in fact, speak at a Black church—but to a crowd of perhaps 100 or so mostly white people in a half-empty space that couldn’t hold 8,000 people even if seats were installed in the rafters and on the roof. (Its pastor gamely said the next day that he was surprised at the number of Black people who actually attended, considering that some had initially laughed at him when he approached them on the street about the event.)

So why not take the win, run the video of Trump with a Black pastor, and leave it at that? Why go for the big lie and then look foolish?