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Poor Newt. Nobody understands him.

There he was, ambushed in a scheduled appearance on Meet the Press by being allowed to speak at length. And in one tiny slip of the tongue, a slip of the tongue that lasted about a minute, Newt clarified the substance of the current Republican plan for Medicare (“get rid of it”) as “imposing radical change from the right” and “too big a jump.” Oh, how conservatives howled to be so betrayed on this litmus test issue. And Newt, later realizing that what he said wasn’t what he meant to be held accountable for at all, renounced his mini-lecture by going on the offensive: “Any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood.”

Any quotation at all. Quoting a Republican—verbatim, in toto, and in context—is a lie, if it makes that Republican look bad. As absurd as that sounds, this claim isn’t exactly an isolated case. We get the same world view from Jon Kyl: caught in a blatant assertion that “well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does” is abortion, Kyl’s office responded that “his remark was not intended to be a factual statement.” You don’t say. We get the same denial of reality with Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introducing legislation to repeal EPA scientific conclusions about carbon dioxide, as if an act of Congress could repeal the law of gravity, or revalue pi.

This isn’t the kind of shady half-truth that politicians of all stripes engage in, like budgetary flim-flam or tarring with a broad brush. (Not that I minimize the harm that such misdirection can cause.) Nor is it restricted to the nutjob fringe where Bachmann, Beck, and Robertson live; it’s coming from the supposedly sober leadership. It’s a frank admission, party-wide, to lying, and lying big—and so what? “Go fuck yourself,” as Dick Cheney would say. You’re still expected to believe the party line, as it’s restructured day by day, or even minute by minute, rather than believe what you can observe yourself. You are to believe it just as long as convenient for the conservative program, after which you’re expected to forget it. Oceania is at war with Eastasia; Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. And if you don’t believe that, if you go back and look at the historical record, well, you’re some kind of goddamn liar, picking on honest right-wing swindlers delivering honest right-wing disinformation just because it isn’t true and it’s on record and hurts people for personal gain.

Poor Newt. Nobody understands him. Or perhaps they understand him too well. Which, in the conservative mindset, is the same thing.

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