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Both sides now

Rick Scott presents Donald Trump with the first National Republican Senatorial Committee Champions of Freedom Award, April 12, 2021

Obviously the tweet below is pure trolling, but it’s trolling based on the most sacred principle of American political journalism, which is that if Democrats accuse a Republican president of something — such as being so radically unfit for office that it would be appropriate to remove that president via the 25th amendment — then it’s only fair for Republicans to make the same argument as soon as there’s a Democrat in the White House:

In January — or was it a decade or two ago? — I argued that Donald Trump’s actions during the January 6th insurrection were so reckless that they warranted his immediate removal by the same vice president that Trump almost managed to lynch, via the mob Trump incited.

Obviously there was no possibility of this happening, because the Republican party was then in the process of going full fascist — a process that is now essentially complete, see the photo above — but I wanted to make the point that removal under the 25th amendment under these circumstances was both the legally and morally correct thing to do, since nothing could demonstrate a president’s unfitness to continue to hold the office than Trump’s attempt to reverse the results of an election he lost, via extra-legal violence.

When Rick Scott makes a superficially similar argument now about Joe Biden and the 25th amendment, he is merely illustrating the force of two of my favorite quotes about playing to the fascist mob, aka the Republican party’s base:

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.
― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Never believe that anti‐ Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti‐Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past. It is not that they are afraid of being convinced. They fear only to appear ridiculous or to prejudice by their embarrassment their hope of winning over some third person to their side.

Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew

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