The Republican Party can reclaim its dignity in the wake of the Donald Trump presidential nomination only if it purges the sickness within.
One potential solution is the creation of an enemies list.
The enemies list should not be cluttered with the names of rank-and-file Republicans who voted for Trump out of fear or hatred of Hillary Clinton. It should not necessarily include the cowardly Republican members of Congress who supported Trump (or who even, in some cases, endorsed Trump, then unendorsed him, then re-endorsed him). Instead, the list should feature high-profile Republicans and conservatives influential with the low-information voters who summarily shun the mass media, fact-checkers, and logic, but rely on sources they trust.
The touchstone for addition to the list should be willful acts of deceit, defined as “The action or practice of deceiving someone by concealing or misrepresenting the truth.” Perhaps addition to the list should also require that an aggravating factor be present, such as bigotry or the aggressiveness with which one pushes deceit. Republican men and women who practice aggravated deceit must be identified, excoriated, and marginalized.
As an example, consider a recent episode involving former Speaker of the House and Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich and radio talk show host Mark Levin. The saga began on Tuesday, when Gingrich appeared on Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s news program, The Kelly File.
The Gingrich interview began cordially, but went downhill (around the 3:50 mark) during a discussion of Trump’s standing in the polls. Kelly recalled that Clinton’s campaign appeared to be in trouble around September 11, but then a series of Trump mistakes and revelations sent his poll numbers reeling. Kelly cited Trump’s “rough first debate,” the fact he “took the bait on [Alicia] Machado,” “the Access Hollywood tape came out” depicting Trump bragging about groping women, and, finally, ten women came forward alleging that Trump had groped them. In response, Gingrich angrily asserted that a Clinton speech should have received equal billing in the press with the sexual assault allegations: “Hillary Clinton had a secret speech in Brazil to a bank that pays her 225,000 [dollars], saying her dream is an open border where 600 million people could come to America.”
Stop the tape. At this moment in the interview, Gingrich is angry because the media did not trumpet his deceitful mischaracterization of a Clinton speech. Based on a single sentence in a stolen e-mail released by Wikileaks in which potentially-controversial Clinton speech excerpts are discussed, Gingrich claims that Clinton’s dream is for the United States to have open immigration borders. A commonsense reading of the stolen e-mail demonstrates that this assertion is, at best, a grotesque interpretation of incomplete information. In an e-mail flagging potentially controversial statements, the headline introducing the “open borders” quote is as follows: “Hillary Clinton Said Her Dream Is A Hemispheric Common Market, With Open Trade And Open Markets.” Had Clinton been referring to immigration, that would have been far more controversial than open borders trade policy. Clearly, Clinton was likely not referring to immigration in her speech.
Back to the Kelly interview. Immediately after complaining that his distorted interpretation of a Clinton speech did not receive as much coverage as the ten women who alleged that Trump sexually assaulted them, Gingrich poured gas on the fire: “I mean, you want to go back through the tapes of your show recently, you are fascinated with sex, and you don’t care about public policy.” Understand what Gingrich is saying: he is equating sexual assault allegations with “sex” and is implying that Kelly is obsessed with sex because she reports on the sexual assault allegations. Here Gingrich is both conflating two very different concepts in order to obscure the truth and launching an ad hominem attack on Kelly.
Kelly defended herself, saying: “You know what, Mr. Speaker, I’m not fascinated by sex. But I am fascinated by the protection of women and understanding what we’re getting in the Oval Office.” Gingrich, attempting to discount Kelly’s genuine concern for the protection of women, implied that Bill Clinton is a sexual predator and dared Kelly to say the words “Bill Clinton, sexual predator.”
Stop the tape. Three women publicly accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct: Juanita Broaddrick (rape), Kathleen Willey (groping), and Paula Jones (indecent exposure). None of these women’s allegations against Clinton have ever been proven in court. Upwards of ten women—three times as many women as have accused Clinton—have come forward to accuse Trump of groping and other inappropriate physical conduct. Many of these women have corroborative evidence and Trump bragged about such conduct in the Access Hollywood tape. By Gingrich’s own evidentiary standard, Trump is a much bigger sexual predator than Bill Clinton, but Trump is the one on the ballot. Gingrich does not care about truth; his intention here is to run interference for Trump.
The following day, on his radio show, Levin attacked Kelly, saying “Megyn Kelly pretends to represent women. I want you all to listen to her 2010 interview on the Howard Stern show . . . where she is giggling and laughing and talking about sex.” As with Gingrich, Levin equated potentially-criminal sexual assault allegations against Trump with “sex” and suggested that Kelly cannot legitimately report on the Trump sexual assault allegations because she talked about sex on the Howard Stern show six years ago. This conflation/ad hominem tactic is an attempt to obscure the truth and mislead listeners. The intent is to deceive, not enlighten.
Levin then accused Kelly of improperly raising the sexual assault allegations fourteen days before the election despite the fact that they had already been thoroughly reported. However, the allegations were raised by Kelly (along with other non-sexual assault allegation events) in the context of explaining Trump’s current poll numbers. It was just another day on the Mark Levin Show.
A silver lining to the Trump nomination is that it has revealed the character of the individuals who dare to defend him vigorously. Gingrich and Levin cannot be trusted. They are not honorable men. Let their names be added to an enemies list that should bear the names of many more.
Currently the principal of Everest Law Firm in Alexandria, Virginia, Kris Hammond has served as an attorney for a district court judge, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the U.S. Department of Justice in its Civil Rights Division. He has run for office twice and was an elected delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.
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