Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Josh Marshall is watching the Jim Jordan story unfold, and his thoughts go back to 2006:
Something is brewing on Capitol Hill that has an eerie resemblance to another set of events that happened just about 12 years ago as Washington hurtled toward the 2006 midterm election. In September 2006, ABC News first reported that Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) had exchanged sexually explicit text messages with underage male congressional pages. Later it was reported that after turning 18 at least two pages had had sexual encounters with Foley. Foley resigned from Congress....

At the time, Foley’s scandal did not affect him alone. Despite initial denials, multiple members of the House GOP leadership knew at least some details of the scandal in 2005 and possibly as early as 2003 but apparently took no action.
In 2018, Republicans in Congress seem united in their support for Jordan, who hasn't been accused of inappropriate behavior himself but who, according to the multiple witnesses, turned a blind eye to sexual abuse on the part of Richard Strauss, the wrestling team doctor at Ohio State, where Jordan was a coach.

Marshall writes:
It seems quite possible that Jordan could have weathered the storm and put the story behind him if on the first reports he would have said some version of this: “I did hear stories about Dr. Strauss and I didn’t take them as seriously as I should. I was much younger. But I failed those kids and I deeply regret it.” ...

But that ship has sailed. Jordan has repeatedly and emphatically denied everything. He’s called all the accusers liars, even as it becomes more and more obvious that Jordan is lying....

Now his colleagues ... have bought into his deception and made it their own....

It will only get worse. The investigations will continue. More information will emerge. Jordan’s lies will become more preposterous. And all of his colleagues, having knowingly vouched for his lies, will be along with him for the ride. Though the specific facts are different, it all bears a striking similarity to the events of 12 years ago: power so seemingly unchallengeable that it fears no backlash and no consequences.
But Jordan won't have to resign the way Foley did, as long as no one credibly testifies that he participated in the abuse. This is not 2006. This is the Trump era.

Rank-and-file right-wingers have long been suspicious of the "liberal media," but in the Trump era every negative story about a conservative is believed to be a fabrication and part of a sinister plot by powerful forces. It wasn't just a a lone backer who blamed the story on the "deep state":
“Jim Jordan goes against the powerful interests at the FBI & deep state to expose them & hold them accountable for their crimes,” tweeted Mike Tokes, a founder of The New Right, a conservative political organization. “Now all of a sudden there is a concentrated smear campaign against him in a deliberate attempt to discredit his work? The American people know better.”
It was also Rush Limbaugh. Here's what Limbaugh said on the radio last Friday. The transcript is posted on Limbaugh's site under the headline "With Paul Manafort in Solitary, Deep State Targets Jim Jordan."
The latest is an attack on Jim Jordan, who is a Congressman of Ohio. The timing of this really… He used to be the wrestling coach at Ohio State — I’m sorry, The Ohio State University — and a couple of ne’er-do-wells from that way, way back, a long time ago… All of a sudden — after Jordan had the knock-down-drag-out with Rod Rosenstein and after Jordan’s reputed to be in the running for the speaker of the House position — guess who’s running the investigation into Jordan?

Perkins Coie.

Does that law firm name ring a bell? They’re the outfit that ran the Steele dossier. Perkins Coie was the cutout law firm that the Clinton campaign used to funnel money to Steele to write that phony dossier. Perkins Coie, Fusion GPS. So Perkins Coie is now conducting an investigation of Jim Jordan.
And also The American Spectator ("The Deep State Finds Its Next Target") and Gateway Pundit ("Deep State Targets Conservative Favorite Jim Jordan With Vicious Smear Campaign After Announcing Speakership Plans") and these folks:
Something about the accusation does not add up, says radio talk show host Sandy Rios, who has defended Jordan on her American Family Radio morning show.

"They don't accuse the head coach. They accuse Jim Jordan, the assistant coach," she cautions. "And the accusation is not that he knew, it's that he must have known."

The accusations against Jordan are revealing the "Deep State's" power, and its fears, on Capitol Hill, says Ohio resident Tom Zawistowski, executive director of the Portage County Tea Party.

Jordan remains a long shot to be Speaker of the House, he says, so this attack is aimed at hurting the congressman politically after his dogged pursuit of accountability at the Justice Department and the FBI.

"I think this is more about the investigations that are going on in the House," Zawistowski says. "I think that they were scared by his questions he asked [Rod] Rosenstein and [Christopher] Wray, and I think the Deep State is behind this."
And Jordan himself calls the story "fake news" -- his evidence being that reporters are actually asking people with some knowledge of Jordan to talk about him, which would seem to be the exact opposite of "fake news."

I don't think GOP voters will ever believe the accusers, no matter how many there are and how credible they seem.

Mark Foley didn't have the benefit of a conspiracy theory about the entire non-conservative press that's now universally believed on the right. Also, he was exposed in the sixth year of George W. Bush's presidency. Early in the Bush era, conservative voters might have concluded that any challenge to a Republican should be viewed with suspicion. But by year six, the general public was thoroughly disillusioned. Even some Republicans had given up on the administration. Bush's poll numbers were lower than Trump's are now, and dropping steadily.

That might eventually happen to Trump, but for now he has loyalists. They believe and echo every crazy thing he says. Jordan is very unlikely to lose favor with the GOP base, which thinks that it's categorically impossible for a Trump supporter to do anything wrong.

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