Wednesday, November 02, 2022


Annie Karni of The New York Times gets the story exactly backwards:
With Falsehoods and Ridicule About Pelosi Attack, Republicans Mimic Trump

Speaking on a conservative radio talk show on Tuesday, former President Donald J. Trump amplified a conspiracy theory about the grisly attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, that falsely suggested that Mr. Pelosi may not have been the victim of a genuine attack.

“Weird things going on in that household in the last couple of weeks,” Mr. Trump said on the Chris Stigall show, winking at a lie that has flourished in right-wing media and is increasingly being given credence by Republicans. “The glass, it seems, was broken from the inside to the out — so it wasn’t a break-in, it was a break out.”

There is no evidence to suggest that.

... But Mr. Trump, a longtime trafficker in conspiracy theories who propelled his political rise with the lie that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, has never let such facts get in his way.

The reaction to the assault on Mr. Pelosi among Republicans ... underscores how thoroughly the G.O.P. has internalized his example. It suggested that Republicans have come to conclude that, like Mr. Trump, they will pay no political price for attacks on their opponents, however meanspirited, inflammatory or false.

If anything, some Republicans seem to believe they will be rewarded by their right-wing base for such coarseness — or even suffer political consequences if they do not join in and show that they are in on the joke.
But on this story Trump was actually behind the conspiracy curve.

Here was Trump over the weekend:
Former President Trump in an interview Sunday called the attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) husband in their San Francisco home a “terrible thing” as he railed against crime in Democrat-led cities.

“With Paul Pelosi, that’s a terrible thing, with all of them it’s a terrible thing,” Trump said in an interview with Americano Media, a conservative Spanish language outlet. “Look at what’s happened to San Francisco generally. Look at what’s happening in Chicago. It was far worse than Afghanistan.”

“We have to give the police back their dignity, their respect. They can solve the problem. But today if a police officer says something that’s slightly out of line it’s like the end of his life, the end of his pension, the end of his family,” Trump continued. “We can’t do that. We have to give the police back their authority and their power and their respect. Because this country is out of control.”
The conspiracy theory that the attack had resulted from a gay tryst gone bad went viral on Saturday. Elon Musk endorsed it on Sunday. But Trump on Sunday was still fitting the attack into a much more conventional right-wing narrative about crime and police oversight in cities and states run by Democrats. So when he switched over to rumormongering yesterday, he was being a follower, not a leader.

Trump was a follower on birtherism, too. As every history of birtherism makes clear, rumors that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya emerged in 2008, and were promoted in the next couple of years by grifters and crackpots such as Phil Berg and Orly Taitz (as well as right-wing media figures like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck). It was only in 2011 that Trump, who was considering a run for president, began to go public with his own birtherist musings.

Fellow Republicans have learned from Trump that right-wing conspiracy-mongering carries little risk and plenty of benefit -- but he's always learned the conspiracies from other members of the tribe.

I know that what Karni writes here conforms to a myth believed by most mainstream journalists and many politicians: that the GOP will become a normal, responsible party if Trump loses his influence. If only that were true.

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