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Charles Vignola: Conspiracy of fools by conservatives

Posted: November 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.

As someone who works in Hollywood, I find the concept of conspiracies very entertaining. Some of my favorite movies and TV shows, from “The Parallax” to “Homeland” revolve around grand, byzantine plots engineered by shadowy figures to manipulate the masses, thwart democracy and control the world.

And that’s not to say that there aren’t conspiracies in the real world. Watergate was a conspiracy. The Iran-Contra scandal was a conspiracy. On a more prosaic level, the Mafia and drug cartels are criminal conspiracies.

But I’ve never seen a group of individuals more prone to conspiratorial thinking than the modern Republican Party. During the 2012 election, it seemed like there was a conspiracy brewing every week, sometimes multiple conspiracies at once.

Barack Obama was really born in Kenya and therefore not legitimately the president. Obama is a socialist even though he saved Wall Street, the banks and the car companies. Obama says he’s a Christian but he’s really a Muslim, even though he’s pro-gay marriage and uses drone strikes to kill Muslim terrorists.

Climate scientists are engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to fake the idea of global warming in order to keep the research grant money pouring in, unfairly painting polluting energy companies as the villains.

When job numbers went up and unemployment numbers went down in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics was engaged in a scheme to cook the books to help Obama.

When the non-partisan Congressional Research Service released a rigorous study concluding that tax cuts for rich people don’t create jobs and only widen income inequality, it was clearly a hack-job designed to spread disinformation about Supply-Side Economics.

Starting to notice a pattern here? I’ll boil it down for you: any time that objective reality contradicts conservative beliefs, the only plausible explanation is that liberals are conspiring against them to manipulate public opinion.

The Polling Conspiracy and Benghazi-Gate are my favorites of the past few months.

In the run-up to the election, Fox News and conservative talk radio were reassuring their audiences that all of the polling showing Obama ahead was just flat out wrong, even though there were dozens of different polls using different methodologies. When polling aggregators like Nate Silver’s 538 Blog and Real Clear Politics were showing an Obama advantage in the majority of battleground states, my conservative buddies assured me that I couldn’t trust them because they were just aggregating bias.

So imagine their surprise on election night when it turned out the mainstream media was absolutely right about the polling and the conservative media was dead wrong. It was like Republicans were being unplugged from “The Matrix,” waking up to a strange new reality where they realized for a fleeting moment that their most trusted news sources had conned them. How conservative pundits like Dick Morris and Michael Barone who predicted a Romney landslide have even a shred of credibility on anything from this point on is beyond me.

Benghazi is the conspiracy I find completely baffling. Fox News should rechristen itself the “Fox Benghazi Channel,” since that’s the dead horse they’ve been beating for two months now in the fervent hopes of concocting a Watergate-style scandal out of whole cloth. Conservatives just can’t comprehend why this isn’t a bigger story outside of the Right Wing echo chamber.

I’ll tell you why: because you can’t build a conspiracy out of an argument about semantics. Conservatives seem pissed that Obama wasn’t calling the incident “terrorism” over and over again from the beginning like they were, and therefore it must have been because he was covering something up, like an embarrassing security or intelligence failure that is so negligent the only appropriate response is the impeachment of Barack Hussein Obama.

Look, it’s clear mistakes were made in Benghazi, but it pales in comparison to the intelligence failures that led to the debacles of 9/11 and the Iraq War. And if those massive blunders didn’t result in Bush’s impeachment, its wishful thinking to believe this will be Obama’s downfall.

Ironically, the guy who screwed up the biggest in Benghazi is conservative icon General David Petraeus, the CIA director who resigned due to an embarrassing sex scandal. Amazingly, few conservative commentators seem to be making any moral or professional judgments about Petraeus’ incredible breach of ethics. Can you imagine if it were Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democrat, who’d engaged in such reckless behavior? The Right Wing would demand he be tried for treason rather than lobbying for him to keep his job, as they’re doing for Petraeus.

The sad and funny truth is that Republicans were the collective victim this election cycle of their own conspiracy-mongering conservative media, all of whom committed the cardinal sin of believing their own press. And I for one sincerely hope that they’ll continue to do so.

Charlie Vignola is a former college Republican turned liberal Democrat. He lives in Fair Oaks Ranch, works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.   


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