I tell you, folks, I'm weakening. I'm about to do something I thought I'd sworn off forever.
I'm considering joining the Republican Party again.
Some of my long-term readers may recall my joining the GOP back in '05 and '06 and writing about it in this column. Not because of any ideological change of heart, but precisely because the GOP had no actual ideology other than IOKIYAR: It's OK If You're A Republican.
Back in those days, the knee-jerk Republican defense of everything from adultery to sexually propositioning teenagers to shoplifting suggested to me that whatever I did, I'd always find a host of defenders so long as I had the correct political affiliation. Not that I was going to do any of those things, mind you, but it was just nice to know.Well, I left the party, but I have to say, I'm sorely tempted to join up again. Not just for the complete lack of moral accountability (even though the David Vitter and Mark Sanford cases show that that's still alive and well), but because it would make writing this column so much easier.
See, I'm basically a lazy person. It's a real drag sometimes when I'm writing this column to go back and actually check various sources to make sure that the things I'm saying about people have at least some basis in fact.
But if I were a conservative Republican, I wouldn't have to do any of that stuff. If I saw something that looked outrageous enough, I could write about it without having to check around and see if it actually happened. And if it turned out not to be true -- hey, who cares?
As an example, let's take de facto Republican Party leader Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh recently went on the air with a real blockbuster of a story: Time magazine reporter Joe Klein had uncovered a thesis written by Barack Obama while Obama was a student at Columbia University.
The thesis was supposedly harshly critical of the U.S. Constitution, stating, "The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."
Only problem was, as Limbaugh was informed almost immediately, the story was a complete hoax, a satire posted on an allegedly humorous blog called "Jumping In Pools."
Joe Klein himself denied ever writing such a piece. "It is completely false," Klein posted on Time's online blog "Swampland." "I've never seen Obama's thesis. I have no idea where this report comes from -- but I can assure you that it's complete nonsense."
Rush, as the kids say, had been punk'd.
No matter, Limbaugh smoothly stated in his very next radio hour. He repeated the false quotes, then admitted that they were probably fake, but -- and this is the cool part -- he still stood by them because (a) he himself had been misquoted recently, and (b) he "knows Obama thinks it."
You can see how, to a lazy person such as myself, this would be very attractive. As a liberal, I can't get away with, for example, saying Sarah Palin once actually claimed she had foreign policy experience because she could "see Russia from her house."
As a liberal columnist, I'd have to point out that Palin never actually said that, but that that quote was instead from "Saturday Night Live" performer Tina Fey's hilarious impression of Palin. If I didn't, you can bet there'd be a deluge of letters lambasting me for making something up. And the defense "Well, it's a lie, sure, but I know Sarah Palin thinks that way" just wouldn't cut it.
But if I were a wingnut -- boy howdy, anything goes. I could make a crazy accusation, find out it's false within the hour, and stand by it anyway. Even after it's shown to be a lie, I could circulate the story on the Internet via chain e-mails that circle around in the Internet forever.
It's really tempting. Someone talk me out of it.