dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog

Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

dkSez : : : : : : Don Kahle's blog random header image

GOP Hypocrisy has Become Strategic

May 6th, 2022 by dk

No one knows who said it first. Its first printed citation dates to the early 1960s, but Groucho Marx, Samuel Goldwyn, or George Burns may have been  first to quip: “The most important thing is honesty. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” Or its early variant: “The secret of success is sincerity. Fake that and you’re in.”

The modern Republican party didn’t invent this recursive recommendation, but they have learned lately how to apply it shamelessly. Politicians of every stripe have used fake sincerity when campaigning, but it’s only recently become a governing principle.

Ever since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, Republicans have declared their intent to “repeal and replace” — but with no real plan to do either, even when they have the governing majorities in place. President Donald Trump insisted that he had an alternative plan that was cheaper and better in every way. But there was no plan.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that his high principles would not allow him to bring Merrick Garland’s nomination for the United States Supreme Court to a floor vote, because a presidential election was only eight months away in 2016. When the shoe was on the other foot, he pressed to get Amy Coney Barrett confirmed after early voting had already begun in 2020.

You know all this. It’s been written about endlessly. But it’s worse than you’ve been told, and my ilk contribute to the problem.

Republicans have weaponized cynicism. They have glorified their guile as proof positive of two things. First, everybody does it. Voters haven’t caught Democrats lying as often, which only demonstrates how much better the Democrats are at doing it — ostensibly because they’ve had so much more practice. Since every politician lies, wouldn’t you rather vote for one who doesn’t do it so well?

Second, their willingness to wangle the truth is offered as evidence of their determination to deliver results at any cost. Voters have willingly endorsed this logic. The end justifies the means. Apparently every woman named Ruth must be a Democrat, because Republicans proudly proclaim their ruthlessness. And their voters love it.

Journalists, on the other hand, hate hate hate the lies, the duplicities, the cynicism. So they can easily be goaded into writing — at length — about each and every deception. Many news outlets have made fact-checking into its own beat, cataloguing every fib and fabrication uttered.

To which the Republicans snicker, recalling another classic syllogism, “There’s no such  thing as bad publicity.” Every mention of the stretched sophism includes a retelling of the original assertion, often with a bend-over-backwards explication of the kernel of truth hidden inside the treachery.

When journalists exposed inconsistencies, they feel good about themselves. They are fulfilling their mission to get the truth on the record. Meanwhile, they have also amplified the audacity that got the process started. Cynical lawmakers and their supporters have accepted this arrangement as a win-win.

It’s difficult to expose a lie without repeating the lie in the process. Columnists and late night comedians have become unwitting handmaids in this endeavor. And the more they do it, the easier it gets. Expose rank hypocrisy often enough and it becomes a template and then a trope. They practically write themselves.

We’re suckers for the “man bites dog” story. It’s interesting because it’s a surprise. “Elected leader caught lying” fit neatly into that category for generations. But it’s become variations on a theme — a fugue of falsehoods. We sometimes even repeat the offenders’ “greatest hits” of previous perjuries, as I did in the first third of this column.

Where is Ruth when we need her? The ruthless are running the show now.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

Tags: No Comments

Leave A Comment

Are you human? *

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.