Republicans Are Using The "Secret Memo" To Cynically Manipulate Frightened Trump Voters

It's not clear what's worse: The Republican Party manipulating its base in such an obvious and grotesque manner or the fact that it's working.
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It's not clear what's worse: The Republican Party manipulating its base in such an obvious and grotesque manner or the fact that it's working.

We are watching a massive propaganda effort to legitimize the destruction of the rule of law in America and the shamelessness of Republicans in engineering it will not be forgotten.

Last Spring, Republicans had a Trump problem. He had swooped in and stolen their carefully cultivated base of paranoid racist rage addicts and claimed the nomination. Under the sway of Steve Bannon, Trump could not be controlled and he threatened to wreck everything the GOP had been working towards with an actual populist economic agenda married to pure white nationalism. Getting rid of him and letting Mike Pence, a proper Republican, take over without being blamed for it was the ideal situation. A special counsel investigating Trump's obvious treason and corruption would do nicely.

But then Bannon was out and it became clear that Trump was incredibly easy to manipulate. He was still a loose cannon whipping up racial resentment but he would do everything Republicans wanted: Deregulate everything, appoint extremist judges, sign tax cuts for billionaires, even slash Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare as long as someone told him he was "winning." As an added bonus, white Republican voters would be so intoxicated by 4 years of white nationalism they would fall right back into the arms of Republicans promising to continue punishing blacks and browns for existing after Trump was gone. Republicans could destroy the economy (again), make trillions for their 1% owners (again), and then blame Trump when everything exploded (again). 

Now they have to get rid of that goddamned special counsel probe and they have to convince people that it's not because they're the most corrupt political party in American history.

Once you understand this, every bizarre and inexplicable thing Republicans have done in the last year to defend Trump makes perfect sense. And that brings us to the latest bout of craziness: The "secret memo".

Devin Nunes, Trump's personal errand boy in the House, has put together a "secret" memo which he immediately told the entire world about. It purports to prove that the FBI is conspiring with the "Deep State", Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, the Illuminati, and possibly Elvis to stage a coup against Donald Trump. And gee golly whiz, he wishes he could show it to the public but, gosh dang it, it's classified, so you'll just have to take his word for it. Of course, Republicans and the White House can declassify the information at any time and blow this whole conspiracy wide open whenever they want but they just can't seem to get around to it for some reason.

Meanwhile, the right wing, whipped into an absolute frenzy by Fox News, AM Hate Radio, and right wing hate sites are screaming #releasethememo! because they "know" there's a massive cabal of bad hombres out to get their Great White Hope. The whole thing seems crazy but now we have a good idea of what the point of the memo is:

WASHINGTON — A secret, highly contentious Republican memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring, according to three people familiar with it.

The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent. But the reference to Mr. Rosenstein’s actions in the memo — a much-disputed document that paints the investigation into Russian election meddling as tainted from the start — indicates that Republicans may be moving to seize on his role as they seek to undermine the inquiry.

In other words, Republicans are building a case for the removal of Rod Rosenstein so his replacement (chosen by Trump, of course) will either shut down or hamstring the Russia probe that threatens to end Trump's presidency. Remember, Jeff Sessions can't do it because he's recused himself from anything having to do with the Russia probe and neither he nor Trump can fire Rosenstein without opening themselves to obstruction of justice charges. Trump, in turn, can't fire Sessions because he's doing everything Trump's white nationalist base could ever dream of as America's first Neo-Confederate Attorney General. Therefore, a case against Rosenstein has to be fabricated.

But, knowing that any such case would collapse upon the most cursory of examinations, Republicans are laying the necessary groundwork for their easily manipulated followers to accept any "evidence" no matter how transparently fake. After all, once they "know" for a fact that Rosenstein is guilty of...something, they'll never actually have to even see the evidence. If you think this is hyperbole, you're wildly overestimating the mental fortitude of white Republican voters. Millions of them still literally believe Hillary Clinton personally ordered the military to stand down in Benghazi and even reports from Republicans themselves saying that never happened cannot dissuade them.

By dangling this "Secret Memo" in front of white Republican voters, the GOP is giving the propaganda machine of the right time to get them used to the idea of Trump firing Rosenstein to shield himself from investigation. By triggering their Pavlovian persecution response, they will believe literally anything they're told as long as it conforms their belief that they're the victim of liberal dirty tricks. It's a deeply cynical manipulation of a political movement eager to be manipulated. The worst part is that's it's not even clear that if white Republicans voters understood they were being manipulated in such a crass and obvious fashion that they would even care. It's just as likely they would respond exactly the same because for them, the ends justify the means no matter how toxic to the rule of law they are. We already see this dynamic writ large in the Republican Party, itself a reflection of the rot of the American right wing.

The only way to stop this erosion of our system of democracy and the rule of law is to utterly crush the Republican Party in November and immediately hold them, and the Trump administration accountable for their corruption. In normal times, pursuing charges against the opposition party is dangerous work, fraught with the potential for abuse but Republicans have left us no choice. They've become an existential danger to the nation and a message has to be sent: Those who would attack the rule of law for nakedly partisan gain will be subjected to the full extent of that law.