Commentary

Rudy’s mark of Cain in American history

A Republican Party united by a lie

December 18, 2023 5:35 am

Rudy Giuliani continues to embrace the Big Lie even after the evidence of his own self-deception trickled down his cheek. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani has no regrets.

No regrets, he says, for falsely accusing two election workers of stealing a presidential election here in Georgia.

No regrets for coming to the state Capitol bearing “proof” that the two workers had been secretly passing vote-filled memory cards between them, “as if they’re vials of heroin or cocaine.”

In Rudy’s mind, it’s all good. No regrets for exposing Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman to death threats and racist attacks; no regrets for driving them out of their homes and employment, for focusing the considerable rage of Trump Nation upon innocent people guilty of no more than doing their job.

Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss (L), a former Fulton County election worker, was comforted by her mother Ruby Freeman (R) as Moss testified during the fourth hearing on the January 6th investigation. Moss faced unrelenting harassment after Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and their supporters ensnared them in a phony conspiracy theory. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

No regrets, Giuliani said this week outside the D.C. courthouse where Moss and Freeman are suing him for damages. No regrets, because “everything I said about them is true.”

Except, not really.

They tell us truth is a stubborn thing, but lies and liars can be stubborn too. Lies beget lies, which beget more lies, and lies told often and with fervor, as Rudy tells his lies, can themselves become a form of truth, except not really. And the most beautiful lies, the most beguiling lies, are the intentional lies that you tell yourself, to deceive yourself, lies that give you permission to do what you most want to do, what you know you should never do.

Like plot to overthrow a legitimate election, and thus end the republic.

But hey, no regrets.

We occupy a time when reality can be made to appear less than concrete, when various bits of misinformation can be collected and then reassembled, like interchangeable pieces in a Lego set, to create a reality that is more to your liking. But, not really.

In a world so fungible, why believe that Donald Trump lost the election, when that belief is painful and costly to you? When truth tells us things that we’d rather not know, why accept that truth when so many more attractive options are available?

“Of course I don’t regret it. I told the truth. They were engaged in changing votes.”
To acknowledge the truth that Trump lost is to acknowledge yourself as a liar and a fraud, as a pathetic husk of the man that you once thought yourself to be, that much of the world thought you to be. Only by stubbornly clinging to this illusion can you still pretend to be the man of substance and honor, the man you are not.

And of course, Giuliani is far from alone; he is one of tens of millions. You commit to the bit, to believe but not to think. You stick to the lies because the truth will almost kill you, because the truth will cost you friends and votes and social standing while believing the lie, pretending to believe the lie, brings you a peace. Except not really.

It is so tempting to pretend, especially when so many are so willing to pretend alongside you, an army of pretenders, shoulder to shoulder, each ensuring that the other will not falter in their pretense, in the hope that by this pretense a new reality will be forced upon the world.

So, onward marches the army of pretenders. The longer they march, the longer the retreat should they turn back, so their only hope is to march onward. The cost of honesty is high, and all comes due at once. The marginal cost of believing each new lie is low.

Onward.

Onward, because if you admit the lie, your Lego world will crumble. Admit the lie, and you admit that what followed the lie was a crime. Admit the lie, and you admit that January 6 was indeed an insurrection, Donald Trump is indeed a would-be dictator and it is not you but Liz Cheney, Nancy Pelosi, Brad Raffensperger and Mike Pence who are the heroes.

Admit the lie, and you cannot in good conscience support the return of Trump to the White House. So you don’t admit the lie.

Onward.

The modern Republican Party comprises tens of millions of people united in defense of that same lie, a lie that many if not most know to be a lie but that few will dare to admit, because by admitting the lie you banish yourself to the wilderness, like Liz Cheney.

The Republican Party is Rudy Giuliani, pathetic Rudy at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, desperate Rudy with the hair dye running down his face, Rudy with the evidence of his own self-deception trickling down his cheek, a black jagged mark that stains more than hair, a stain that will be his mark of Cain in American history.

He knows it’s there. He feels it dribbling down his jaw, but he dare not reach for it, for to touch it is to acknowledge its reality, so he does not. The existential threat is to admit the truth, so do not admit the truth. Deny the truth by any means available.

Rage, rage against admittance of the truth.

This commentary is republished from Georgia Recorder, a sister publication of Kentucky Lantern and part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and donors as a 501c(3) public charity. 

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Jay Bookman
Jay Bookman

Jay Bookman, a columnist for Georgia Recorder, covered Georgia and national politics for nearly 30 years for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, earning numerous national, regional and state journalism awards. He has been awarded the National Headliner Award and the Walker Stone Award for outstanding editorial writing, and is the only two-time winner of the Pulliam Fellowship granted by the Society of Professional Journalists. He is also the author of "Caught in the Current," published by St. Martin's Press.

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