“IN THE END,” wrote George Orwell in 1984, “the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it.”
It took 35 years longer than Orwell predicted, but here we are. The Grand Old Party has become the George Orwell Party. Because the reality of their current situation is damning and treasonous, Donald Trump and his minions have resorted to attacking reality.
To be sure, Trump has been doing this since literally Day One, when he sent his embattled Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, to belligerently insist that Trump’s inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s—despite this being demonstrably untrue. Between Melissa McCarthy eviscerating him on Saturday Night Live and his own ridiculous quick-stepping on Dancing with the Stars, Spicer has become an object of ridicule—and rightly so. But he began the Republican Party’s descent into straight-up 1984-level reality denial.
Trump has always lied. But in the past, his lies have tended to exaggerate his own supposed attributes. He was a multi-millionaire claiming he was a billionaire, a tall man insisting he was three inches taller than the tape measure showed, a playboy of laughably limited sexual prowess passing himself off as the World’s Greatest Lover, and so on.
Since becoming president—and especially in the past year, as the walls have closed in around him and his health, said to be superhuman, has failed him—Trump has engaged in lies of a different sort. He is no longer exaggerating. He is now insisting upon an alternate reality altogether—guided, one supposes, by the “alternative facts” his stalwart adviser Kellyanne Conway once spoke of.
This tweet, from this morning, is not remotely true:
Colin Jost hammered Trump on this obvious lie on Weekend Update last night:
In fact, the president almost constantly asks reporters to speak up, to talk louder, because he has trouble hearing—just as he clearly had some sort of medical episode last weekend, necessitating an emergency trip to Walter Reed Medical Center. The subsequent press release claimed this was a jump-start on his physical, and “not any urgent or acute issues,” his doctor (supposedly) wrote in the letter. “Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurological evaluations.” Given the black-is-white nature of the 2019 vintage of Trump’s lies, is it not more likely that “specialized cardiac or neurological evaluations” are exactly why he went?
The Republican Party, which has so far distanced itself from Bush I, Reagan, and Eisenhower that it more resembles a Fascist faction in 1920s Italy than the Party of Lincoln, has just as alacritously denied reality. Elise Stefanik is a “rising star,” and not a traitor. The adult kids of important US politicians who have exploited their connections to make money are Bidens, not Trumps. Rudy Giulaini is fighting corruption, not fomenting it. Devin Nunes was in Vienna fact-finding, not developing Putinist conspiracy theories. And this:
Yeah, the GOP won Phase One of impeachment—like the Jets soundly beat the Patriots last month.
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears,” Orwell wrote. “It was their final, most essential command.” The GOP lies will grow more egregious in the weeks ahead; Baghdad Bob will seem rational in comparison. Fortunately, this is still a two-party system, and one of those parties knows that ignorance isn’t, in fact, strength.