GOP’s Strategy of Deception

Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, two veteran centrists who disdain partisan labels, finally said what nearly everyone knows to be true. In April, they penned a Washington Post article entitled, “Let’s just say it, the Republicans are the problem.” Yet, the GOP “problem” goes even deeper, says Beverly Bandler.

By Beverly Bandler

The Republican Party has a free-floating relationship with truth. The party distorts, insinuates, misleads, and blatantly lies.

The GOP has deliberately exploited myths, misled or lied about: the Auto Industry Bailout, the Bible, the Budget, Climate Change/Global Warming, Conservatism, the Constitution, Deficit/Debt, the Democratic Party, the Economy, the Environment, the Founding Fathers, Gas Prices, the Government, History, Immigration, Income Inequality, Iraq, Jobs, Liberals, Medicare, the New Deal, Barack Obama, ObamaRomneyCare, Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party, Spending, Social Security, the Stimulus, Taxes, Women’s Bodies.

It might take less time to list what they haven’t lied about. They have not only been misleading and lying to the American public, they have been doing the same to their own members.

The GOP would probably lie about the definition of lie as well, since they have been trying to change the definitions of evil, socialism and fascism along with a few other words. (It has been suggested that we keep checking to make sure the word joy remains in dictionaries.)

Conservatives initiated their own Conservapedia in 2006, since they not only reject standard definitions of words, they don’t like the facts on Wikipedia they consider them “liberal.” So, they make up their own facts. They make up their own reality. They decide that a belief about an issue makes it true. That is today’s Republican Party.

Why do the Republicans make up facts? Because they cannot debate substantive issues with real facts. They cannot govern (how can a party that hates government govern?), so they must mislead and lie.

The one real talent the Republican Party has demonstrated is the production of misleading propaganda. Why are their lies so successful? Because they know they can count on most voters being uninformed and gullible, and likely to remember the lie in the headline or TV sound bite, and be too tired, too busy or unskilled to question or search further.

American voters are particularly vulnerable to “tailored disinformation.” As Mark Twain famously said: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” GOP pollster Frank Luntz has noted that: “A compelling story, even if factually inaccurate, can be more emotionally compelling than a dry recitation of the truth.”

Today’s version of the Republican Party heeds the Luntz recipe and draws upon voters’ emotions through disinformation and lies because, as Rick Perlstein pointedly writes: “The mortal fear of the Republicans is that if government delivers the goods, the Republicans have no future.”

Unfortunately for those of us in the “reality-based” community, the anti-democratic right-wing (i.e. regressive reactionaries) can count on help from the Democratic Party that is so dependent on corporate financing. Well-meaning progressives who have not been able to effectively respond nationwide to the Republican Attack/Noise Machine.

No matter how many articles George Lakoff and other communications experts write over the years, Democratic leaders do not get the concept of presenting hard-hitting facts and explanations that the public can grasp with ease.

In spite of their accomplishments and sound reasoning, they appear to be easily intimidated and defensive, and tend too often to be timorous and tepid, always reacting to a bullying GOP attack and a lie. They seldom anticipate and embrace the importance of principled and timely attack. And as one writer puts it, the Democrats demonstrate “continued fecklessness in clearly communicating the coherent moral values at the heart of the progressive worldview.”

The failure of the corporate media (also dependent on corporate monies) to call out the lies, is another issue altogether. The corporate media is also particularly adept at ignoring what Larry Beinhart calls “fog facts,” facts that are out in the open, but “invisible” in the sense that no one acts on them.

Have Democrats ever been guilty of misleading or lying? Yes. But: 1) the list is shorter than that of the GOP by several orders of magnitude. 2) For the most part, the consequences have not done serious long-term damage to the nation (though admittedly there have been a couple of notable exceptions, i.e. the Vietnam War). 3)  Lying is not part of a formalized political strategy among Democrats designed to fool the American people into buying into an “agenda.”

But let’s deal with the latest egregious example of Republican insinuation or “untruth,” or if you will, lying: The Crossroads TV ad. First, a pertinent and indisputable reminder in this “age of forgetting”:

“The fact is that Obama inherited a disaster of a federal budget. Eight years prior, when President George W. Bush took the oath of office, there was a $281 billion surplus. By the time Obama was sworn in, he was facing a $1.2 trillion deficit. Inconvenient though it may be for conservatives (especially those who are running for president), the truth is that spending, taxes and the deficit are all lower today than when President Obama took office.” – Michael Linden

The Republican Party and Crossroads, the GOP’s deep-pocketed Super PAC, would have you believe that something called the New Majority Agenda is a legitimate movement that is working for the good of the American public. Joseph Goebbels would applaud their using an appealing term.

The “Moral Majority,” it should be noted, was an appealing term, too, but it was never the majority, nor, it can be easily argued, was it moral. The so-called “New Majority” isn’t what it says it is either, unless Crossroads means a majority of billionaires.

The radical right wants the public to buy into this “new majority” concept and its purported constructive agenda to distract from the real GOP agenda that they do not reveal: a ruined Obama presidency, a weak Democratic Party and ideally, a one-party system, and a radically conservative United States.

The Crossroads PAC has not correctly identified the majority of Americans as some new major movement. Rather, Crossroads promotes a false front for the roughly 20-30 percent who represent the Republican base who support their ultra-right agenda.

The 70 percent of the American public, at various points on the political continuum, from liberal to moderate is still grounded in reality. The real majority simply needs the truth so it can support sound policies and vote as responsible citizens.

Truth is not always easy to find, but a society that no longer seeks it has jettisoned its self-respect. American voters need to fight to get back self-respect and challenge what has become a culture of lying.

They need to be more discerning and less interested in “balance” and being “fair” to two-sides of the story, when one side speaks to intellectual integrity and truth, or simply makes sense.

Voters need to understand the difference between an opinion and a supported argument. They need to hold all politicians and the corporate media accountable. They need to recognize the Republican radical right-wing propaganda for what it is: propaganda.

All misinformation and lies from any source need to be recognized and condemned. Spin should be distinguished from substance. Attention needs to be paid to “fog facts.”
We’re not talking about weight and age, or people’s feelings, and we’re not selling soap. We’re talking about the future of the United States and ours.

“The Republican presidential campaign is about a lot more than the campaign for the presidency. It is about guaranteeing a radical conservative future for America.” – George Lakoff

“Lies are often much more plausible, more appealing to reason, than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand what the audience wishes or expects to hear. He has prepared his story for public consumption with a careful eye to making it credible, whereas reality has the disconcerting habit of confronting us with the unexpected, for which we were not prepared.”   – Hannah Arendt

Beverly Bandler is a public affairs professional whose career spans some 40 years. Her credentials include serving as president of the state-level League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands and extensive public education efforts in the Washington, D.C. area for 16 years. She writes from Mexico.

For more information on the economic stimulus: Matthews, Dylan.  “Did the stimulus work? A review of the nine best studies on the subject.” The Washington Post, 2011-08-24.


Arendt, Hannah. Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics; Civil Disobedience; On Violence; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  (1972).

Beinhart, Larry.  Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin.  Nation Books; 1 edition (August 4, 2006).

Benen, Steve. “The best lies money can buy.”  Maddowblog, 2012-05-22.

Berlet, Chip and Matthew N. Lyons. Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. The Guilford Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2000).

Berlet, Chip and Margaret Quigley.  “Theocracy and White Supremacy: Behind the Culture War to Restore Traditional Values.”

Bouie, Jamelle.  “Hate It or Love It, the Stimulus Worked.”  The American Prospect,  2012-05-15.

Bovard, James. “How the Media Enables Government Lies.” The New York Times, 2009-11-6 to 8.

Cannon, Carl M. “Untruth and Consequences.” The Atlantic, 2007 January/February.

Irwin, Neil. “Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers.” The Washington Post, 2010-01-02.

Lakoff, George. “Why the GOP Campaign for the Presidency Is About guaranteeing a Radical Conservative Future for America.” Alternet, 20120-03-12.

Linden, Michael.  CHART: “Spending, Taxes, And Deficits Are All Lower Today Than When Obama Took Office.” Think Progress, 2012-05-15.

Matthews, Dylan.  “Did the stimulus work? A review of the nine best studies on the subject.” The Washington Post, 2011-08-24.

Mooney, Chris. “Diagnosing the Republican Brain.” Fact: Conservatives deny science and facts. But there’s a reality check that liberals need too. Mother Jones, 2012-03-30.

Perlstein, Rick.  “The Fascinating Story of How Shameless Right-Wing Lies Came to Rule Our Politics.” Mother Jones, 2011-05-26.

Political Research Associates. “Studying the U.S. Political Right.” The Public Eye.

Robinson, Sara.  “State of the Union: A Status Report on the Far Right.” Campaign for America’s Future,

Schechter, Danny. “The Politics of Mythology.” Consortium News, 2012-05-23.

Shorris, Earl.  “Ignoble liars: Leo Strauss, George Bush, and the philosophy of mass deception.” Harper’s Magazine, June, 2004.

Weaver, Paul H.  News and Culture of Lying. Free Press (October 1, 1998).

15 comments for “GOP’s Strategy of Deception

  1. Morton Kurzweil
    June 7, 2012 at 15:33

    It is not the strategy of deception, but the strategy of suggestion that influences our decisions
    What we expect influences our decisions in politics and religion. Our beliefs and our bigotry
    respond to the emotional connection to feelings of certainty, a sense of reality not available
    in any form of reason. It is only the security and comfort of social acceptance that offers the
    individual the authority of the herd, the swarm, the gang. Group suggestion raises the masses to
    patriotism, to right and lawful acts, to heroism, to war, to genocide, to hate, fear, anger, love and justice
    as Americans, Iranians, Catholics, Muslims, or any organized authoritarian state or organized religion.

    ref. R. B. Michael, M. Garry, I. Kirsch. Suggestion, Cognition, and Behavior. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2012; 21 (3): 151 DOI: 10.1177/0963721412446369
    ref. ScienceDaily, June 7, 2012.

  2. June 2, 2012 at 11:34

    Since the Reagan era, Republicans have been the party of pandering and propaganda.

    By default, Democrats have been left with the task of actual policy and governance — which is a much harder sell. But the Democrats could be much more successful if they functioned more like a real political party instead of a bunch of “independents.”

  3. Charles LoPresto
    June 1, 2012 at 19:22

    There is a understanderable misconception here that needs to be addressed: That is that Republicans hate government. It is just not true. They love government that allows large corporations to reep large profits and pay no taxes. They love government that allows the oil industry to write energy policies. They love government that sends working class boys to fight, and die and suffer illnes and lose of sight and limb so that corporations can excerise advantage over ‘our’ cheap foreign resourses. They love government in your beadroom and in your doctors office. They love government secrecy. They love government watching over it’s citizens, listening to their phone conversations. They love government that they can buy. What they hate is not government but democracy. Witness how government grows under Republicans.

    • Johnathan Hubbard
      June 6, 2012 at 19:07

      Exactly. The whole thing reeks of “good cop bad cop”. If you are culturally conservative then the republicans appeal to you as the good cop, if you are culturally liberal then the democrats – neither are interested in ANY sense to eliminate government intrusion into your personal life.

  4. Gregory Lynn Kruse
    June 1, 2012 at 15:24

    This is just like dozens of articles I’ve read over the last few years. What are we supposed to do, lie back at them? Should we accuse them of shortcomings that are really exclusive to us? Should we give what little money we have to unreliable Democrat or third party candidates so they can give it to the billionaires who own the corporate media, who then give it to Republican and Tea Party candidates who work for them? It’s very odd that the people who preach that God is in control are the most motivated activists on the scene, and those who want to be in control of their own lives haven’t the slightest idea what to do. The motivation to do the wrong thing that will benefit you is far stronger that the motivation to do the right thing that will benefit others.

  5. FC
    June 1, 2012 at 15:19

    No choice? Americans could choose to not vote for members from either party for a change. Voting should never be about having to choose between evils, one can even write in a candidate if they don’t like any that are on the ballot. If people vote for a “lesser evil” that they think stands more of a chance then yeah, ONLY evil’s will be voted in. If a majority of people instead voted for someone they liked… it wouldn’t be a magic fix but it would help quite a bit. Every vote away from an “evil” is good thing.

    • Don Beams
      June 2, 2012 at 11:35

      How very idealistic. But now is NOT THE RIGHT TIME! Give Occupy some time and a little space to work, to get viable candidates for every office. In this year of 2012, not voting or wasting a vote on “anybody but”, could have disastrous results. Unless of course you think having Romney in office will speed up the possibility of another American Revolution….

      • Johnathan Hubbard
        June 6, 2012 at 19:04

        The idea that the Republican Party is against big government is laughable. The article’s criticism are like so many stones hurled from the inside of a glass house. Not that I disagree with the assessment as a whole – I just think that all political parties are doomed to corruption and vice. After all, since human beings possess in varying degrees many despicable qualities, why should anyone expect that organized human beings would fare better? The situation reminds me of so many sports fans, eager to cheer when the ref calls a flag on the opposition, but bristling with contempt when their own team makes the same mistake and is caught. A plague on both houses, I say.

    • fulano
      June 7, 2012 at 03:33

      Not voting won’t help. The majority of votes cast will still determine the winner. A “none of the above” or a third party option is the only way out of this quagmire.

  6. dahoit
    June 1, 2012 at 12:39

    We are all Palestinians to be lied to,trapped in cages,droned,our nation eviscerated by Zionist neolibcon criminals,our morals scattered to the winds of idiocy, sodomy and special interest vote getting,all for the wacko monster would be gods,who hate the rest of humanity with their counterfeit history of victimization,when they are the victimizers,manipulators and stinkin liars from hell.
    Bob Zimmerman,Georges father?,receiving a medal from a master of war is ludicrous.sheesh,we have reached ludicrous speed!

  7. Big Em
    May 31, 2012 at 21:55

    Excellent analysis of our current political situation – – one of the best I’ve seen in a LONG time.

  8. Hillary
    May 31, 2012 at 21:11

    Automatically as before —
    Millions of Americans will automatically cast their vote for the Republican nominee.
    Millions of Americans will automatically cast their vote for the Democratic nominee and “Diebold” computer vote counting machines may even “help” with the results where necessary.

    Both parties are just about 2 sides of the same coin.

    Sadly it seems that the U.S. government is a corporate military industrial complex run by neocons and our politicians are sellouts to the power and prestige of lobbyists and contributing billionaires on a quid pro quo basis and they say what they need to say to get elected , then conveniently forget all about their country and constituents once in office.

    • F. G. Sanford
      June 1, 2012 at 00:26

      Yes, old Mike Gravel got it exactly right. Those clips might as well have been shot in 1933, and our Congress might as well have been singing, “Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles”. Great article, by the way; ‘hat’s off’ to the author!

      “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.” -Cicero

    • FoonTheElder
      June 1, 2012 at 17:12

      On the voting machine front, ES&S, a right wing company founded by former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, now owns over 70% of the voting machines in the country, including Diebold.

      • F. G. Sanford
        June 2, 2012 at 02:11

        I heard a great line about Diebold machines. The instruction manual says, “Follow instructions carefully. Results may vary”.

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