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Intellectual debauchery


I’m morbidly fascinated by this kind of thing:

Although I’m a native of the Great Lakes State, I confess to being ignorant of Rep. McClain’s oeuvre, so I have no opinion on whether this pure right wing ignorance and stupidity, or pure right wing trolling cynicism, or perhaps some Trumpian combination of all these factors, i.e., a world of Platonic bullshit in the Frankfurtian sense where nothing matters less than the truth.

What most interests me is how things get to this point. It’s of course a banal observation that politicians lie, but, outside of authoritarian/totalitarian conditions, political lies generally need to involve shading or spinning the truth in disingenuous ways, not simply making up howlingly false assertions and just repeating them over and over again.

What Trump has destroyed completely is the idea that a (Republican) politician has some minimal obligation not to invent a pure fantasy world of rhetorically convenient but wholly imaginary “facts.” Of course because the first rule of American political journalism is that Both Sides Do It, this means that the traditional rhetorical excesses of Democratic politicians — that is, the occasional disingenuous spinning of actual facts and figures that are themselves actual facts and figures — have to be treated as being just the same as the psychotic rantings of Trump has his rapidly proliferating epigoni.

The debauched aspect of all this is that once you have no compunction whatsoever about either telling the truth or having your lies correlate with reality in at least some loose way, you might as well make those lies as spectacular as possible. You didn’t graduate from college? Why not turn that non-credential into graduating at the very top of the class at a major research university? You were the worst high school baseball player in the state of New York? Why not be invited to the same major league tryout that yielded the signing of future Hall of Famer Willie McCovey?

The possibilities are indeed endless.

ETA: I see Scott shares my fascination with exactly the same genre of hardcore liar/bullshit porn.

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