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Republican Senators Suffer Sudden Onset of Hysterical Blindness

June 9, 2020
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Marco Rubio doesn’t read Twitter, he only writes on it. This would not be a terrible policy, if one were abiding by it. But Marco Rubio is not abiding by it. He is just telling a really dumb and obvious lie because he doesn’t have the hands to criticize Donald Trump.

Rubio’s latest pathetic Twitter lie was the result of his being asked an inconvenient question about the president of the United States’s most recent monstrous tweet, in which he accused 75-year-old protester Martin Gugino—who was pushed down by police and left to bleed like an unwanted rodent—of being secret Antifa.

President Trump sourced this theory from an OAN segment that was—I shit you not—reported by a man in a thick Russian accent who also—by total coincidence—works for the Russian state-owned propaganda network Sputnik.

In a vacuum one would imagine that if you’re a Republican senator who secretly loathes Trump but publicly plays nice with him, one of the easiest softballs you could ask for would be whether you condemn a preposterous, Russian-peddled conspiracy theory targeting an American citizen who was the victim of an attack that was caught on video. It’s a layup. An easy opportunity to say, “See, I call it like I see it” without any downside risk at all. A baby souljah moment. No reason at all to tell an absurd lie on this one.

Or as @MarcoRubio might put it:

James 3:14 – But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth

But that is not the world we live in. In our reality, senators were so flummoxed by the AARP-Antifa conspiracy that it resulted in mass temporary blindness and/or dissembling hysteria.

Which is what happened to Rubio. Just this past Saturday, the senator from Florida was using his tiny thumbs to disagree with a former LSU Football star over whether black people are forgiving enough and also to expand on a point made by an Oregon sheriff about protesters being violent. The day before that Rubio retweeted . . . who is that there? . . . oh yes, President Donald Trump. The person whose tweets he never reads or sees.

That is bizarre!

Rubio was, of course, not alone. Ron Johnson, Kelly Loeffler, Dan Sullivan, “Rich” Mitch McConnell, and Rick Scott all suffered from TemporaryTwitterBlindness-19 as well.

John Cornyn may have seen the president’s new conspiracy tweet but the issue was too complex for a man of his meager reading-comprehension abilities. Josh Hawley spent the morning crusading about First Amendment rights but had nothing to say about state violence against innocent protesters, nor the president’s repeated lies about it. Apparently he likes the Fifth Amendment, too.

John Thune did see the tweet—providing some hope that the Twitter blindness curve can be bent. But then he echoed Lamar Alexander and other senators who said they do not want to be in the business of commenting on what the president of the United States has to say on a day-to-day basis. This will, I hope, provide a very useful precedent for Joe Biden should he be elected in November.

This charade is one of the stupidest parts of a very stupid presidency.

These senators have ensconced themselves in a bubble where telling absurd lies rather than demonstrating basic decency is not only required to survive politically but is an actual moral requirement.

In their minds anyone who tries to burst this bubble is unsophisticated at best and a big old meany at worst. Okay, that last part’s not true. At worst, anyone asking Republican senators what they think about the Republican president’s tweets is in league with Antifa and is asking for a beating from some Albany cops. To be honest, you might even be Antifa just for reading this.

And so these boneless wonders persist in pretending not to see the things right in front of their eyes. In claiming that words and tweets don’t matter, convincing themselves that feigned ignorance and being false to the truth is the righteous path.

In a way, I suppose we should be thankful to Rubio and Cornyn and RonJon and Loeffler and Dan-O and Rick Scott and Mitch. Because in refusing to tell us what they think about this obvious injustice, they have told us—yet again—exactly who, and what, they are.

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump, communications director for Jeb Bush 2016, and spokesman for the Republican National Committee.