Friday, November 20, 2020


Peggy Noonan, to her credit, has had enough of the president's efforts to steal the election.
More than two weeks after the election, it’s clear where this is going. The winner will be certified and acknowledged; Joe Biden will be inaugurated. But it’s right to worry about the damage being done on the journey.

... the sheer nuttiness surrounding the current mess is becoming deeply destructive.
But this is preposterous:
The Trump campaign sent an email under the name of formerly respectable Republican Newt Gingrich, once speaker of the House, saying “The Corruption is Unprecedented”: “It’s time for us to get MAD.” We can’t “roll over.” “Please contribute $45 RIGHT NOW to the Official Election Defense Fund.”

This isn’t a game. America isn’t your plaything. Doesn’t Mr. Gingrich realize how dangerous it is to stoke people like this, to rev them up on the idea that holding even the slightest faith in the system is for suckers?
Newt Gingrich? Who spread the Seth Rich conspiracy? And the Vince Foster conspiracy a couple of decades before that? Gingrich, who defended Donald Trump's birtherism in 2012 and said Barack Obama engaged in "Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior"? That guy is "formerly respectable"?

Back in 1995, when Gingrich was spreading the Foster conspiracy, columnists Jack Germond and Jules Witcover wrote:
Newt Gingrich seems to have trouble understanding one of the laws of political leadership -- that words have consequences.

The House speaker's declaration that he cannot "accept" the verdict of suicide in the death of White House deputy counsel Vincent W. Foster Jr. is the kind of thing conspiracy theoreticians need for their wild ideas about Foster's death two years ago....

If these comments had been made by some wild-eyed back-bencher in the House, they might be dismissed as just more evidence that there are a few nutcakes elected every two years. But Newt Gingrich is the speaker of the House and, for all practical purposes, the titular leader of the Republican Party today.
But Germond and Witcover were wrong. Gingrich suffered no negative consequences for his conspiratorialism. He's still around. He's still influential. The mainstream media still seeks him out for his opinions. And now it's clear that he was one of the inventors of the modern Republican Party.

Gingrich has been severely criticized throughout his career -- but his critics have mostly been Democrats. Much of America dismisses what Democrats say -- after all, the Democratic Party is full of dangerous radicals, isn't it? That's what we always hear from Republicans, the same Republicans who either parrot Gingrich-style conspiratorialism or refuse to condemn it. The GOP's reputation, by contrast, seems undiminished.

Noonan addresses this warning to Republicans:
[Voters] are accepting a new postelection precedent, that national results won’t be accepted until all states are certified and all legal options, even the most bizarre and absurd, exhausted. Wait until this is used against you, in 2024 or ’28. You won’t like it.
But Democrats won't use this tactic against Republicans in the future. They'll continue to respect democracy -- Al Gore may have challenged a tiny GOP margin of victory in 2000, and Democrats may have complained about Russian interference in 2016, but Hillary Clinton conceded within hours after the polls closed, and Gore conceded when his appeals were exhausted, which Trump will never do. Democrats won't challenge five- and six-figure margins of victory. They won't claim massive conspiracies to flip votes that somehow leave no evidence trail but are incontrovertible nonetheless. They won't declare the whole system corrupt just because the other party sometimes wins.

But maybe they should. Maybe they need to. No one fought dirty against Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, and now the GOP is a party of Gingriches. This year, no one thought to contest Republican wins in, say, North Carolina, just to give the party a taste of its own medicine.

Maybe stooping to their level is the only thing that will stop them. Our failure to stop them for the past quarter century is how we got where are today.

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