American politics seems to have just entered a new phase. A phase that will probably lead to the shutting down of several liberal blogs. And widespread unemployment among those who make fun of politicians and politics for a living, be they stand-up comics, editorial cartoonists or Comedy Central hosts.
The Republican Party, you see, has entered a full-blown post-parody phase. There’s absolutely nothing you can say or do to mock them that is funnier or more painful than straight-up accounts of their own deeds and actions. And it’s not just isolated crackpots and whack-jobs. It’s everyone, from top to bottom. And not just their leaders, but their institutions too.
Exhibit A: Take Me To Your Leader
Take Eric Cantor. He’s the House Minority Whip, for crying out loud. (That’s probably what thinking conservatives do every time they are reminded of the fact, cry out loud.) Yesterday, he decided that it would be astute political propaganda to counter all the recent reports of threats and violence against Democrats by essentially cooking up a really serious-sounding story:
I have been directly threatened: A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week…
Cantor, of course, is the original, undiluted innocent. (Read that as a euphemism for “his IQ is much less than his age”.) It never occurred to him that anyone might actually fact-check a claim like that. After all, when the House Minority Whip of The Party of Lies, Damn Lies and even more Damn Lies announces something, everyone will just take his word for it. So he never worried about the fact that all this would inevitably come to light:
The Richmond Police Department is investigating an act of vandalism at the Reagan Building, 25 E. Main St., Richmond, Virginia. A first floor window was struck by a bullet at approximately 1 a.m. on Tuesday, March 23. The building, which has several tenants including an office used by Congressman Eric Cantor, was unoccupied at the time.
A Richmond Police detective was assigned to the case. A preliminary investigation shows that a bullet was fired into the air and struck the window in a downward direction, landing on the floor about a foot from the window. The round struck with enough force to break the windowpane but did not penetrate the window blinds. There was no other damage to the room, which is used occasionally for meetings by the congressman.
Just in case it’s not clear from that excerpt, this was a perfect re-enactment of Longfellow‘s “I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth I know not where”:
A bullet that hit a window in Republican U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor’s office building was fired randomly into the air, police said Thursday.
… Richmond police said in a news release that the bullet had been fired into the air around 1 a.m. Tuesday. It finished its random arc back to earth at a sharp downward trajectory, breaking a window pane on the bottom floor of the two-story brick building where Cantor’s campaign leases the top floor.
The spent bullet hit the floor about one foot inside the shattered pane. No one was in the building at the time. A police investigation has yielded no suspects.
How’s that for political violence that would make anyone crap their pants?
(Last week, we heard a lot about the self-executing rule. If there were any real justice in the world, we’d be telling ourselves we just saw a prime example of the self-executing politician.)
Exhibit B: Institutional Commitment
The NRCC thoughtfully provided this compelling take on the incident at the home of Tom Perriello’s brother, where someone severed a gas line with malicious intent:
Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) is one of the Democratic lawmakers who has been targeted after the health care vote — and one Republican group suggests he has only himself to blame for the situation.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Andy Sere said that while his organization doesn’t condone the actions of the person or people who cut a gas line at Perriello’s brother’s house (apparently under the impression that the home was the congressman’s), Perriello is not the victim.
“Central and Southside Virginians are the ones who are going to have the bear the burden of increased taxes,” Sere told The Roanoke Times. “What you’re seeing is a frustration among his constituents who believe he’s not listening to them.”
Way to not condone an apparent murder attempt, guys! That should certainly help to bring all the simmering violence to an immediate halt.
I venture to suggest that the phrase “sociopathic indifference” fits like a glove. Too bad that institutions can’t be committed to an institution.
*** Update, 10:44 a.m. ***
Eric Cantor is not just a supersized twit, he’s also a multi-pronged liar. It turns out that there’s yet another element of his short statement that’s flat-out false.
What he said was: “I have been directly threatened: A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week…”
We already know that it was a random shot fired into the air, that just happened to come down through a window, barely penetrating the glass. We already know that it didn’t come through the window of Cantor’s office, but a window one floor below Cantor’s office. Now it turns out it isn’t his campaign office. It isn’t even in his congressional district!
The question this raises, of course, is: why lie about such a trivial detail? Cantor’s melodramatic claim would have been no less melodramatic if he had simply said: “I have been directly threatened: A bullet was shot through the window of my office in Richmond this week…” So why throw in that totally needless lie? Is there any possible explanation other than the man just being a congenital liar who simply cannot help himself?
*** Update #2, 2:53 p.m. ***
Cantor’s spokesman has offered a spirited defense of Cantor’s overblown claim. It seems to boil down to: it wasn’t dishonesty, it was the fog of politics. The claim is that neither the police nor anybody in Cantor’s “campaign office” told Cantor or any of his aides that after the bullet flopped weakly through the glass, it didn’t have enough energy to make it through the blinds. Or that it was judged to be a random shot into the air.
Greg Sargent reports on a conversation he had with Cantor spokesman, Brad Dayspring:
Short version: When Cantor gave his statement, all he knew was that a bullet had been fired into his window, there was an ongoing investigation into the incident, and that he had received other threats on his life.
Sargent doesn’t seem to have asked Dayspring how a window on the floor below Cantor’s office could be called “his window”. Or why Cantor described it as his campaign office. I find that incredible.