If you’re looking for what the meltdown of a major political institution looks like in real time, you need look only to how the GOP is behaving in the wake of Donald Trump’s decisive electoral loss. This trickle down freak-out was somewhat predictable, with nearly everyone agreeing that a Trump loss would not see a classy exit by the soon-to-be former President. But I’m not sure anyone would have predicted that the Republican Party writ large would refuse to admit what is an obvious electoral defeat, would seek to overturn a legitimate election in which they picked up all kinds of seats in the House of Representatives, nor cuddle up with all kinds of crazy actors wielding bizarre and easily disproven conspiracy theories.
But it’s worth noting something: it’s unlikely that the vast majority of the GOP players in this Riverdance of stupid are actually crazy. Whatever one might want to say about Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, they aren’t batshit insane, nor stupid. Neither is the vast GOP infrastructure around the country. More likely, they are simply cynical enough to play up the conspiracy theories in order to rev up their voters for future elections, hamper a Biden administration, and otherwise make life as difficult on the party that won the presidency as humanly possible. They’re liars, in other words, not psychos.
Case in point would be the audacious set of tweets sent out by the Arizona GOP recently. Tweets which, referencing a Rambo movie of all things, very much incite violence.
That account followed up on that tweet, indicating that Trump followed that creed and asking if any of its followers did as well. Sadly, many responded in the affirmative, appearing to indicate that there are folks out there ready to die for the cause of Donald Trump. Unsurprisingly, a large number of people both on Twitter and in public, including many public officials, many of which are Republicans, lost their collective shit over the tweet. The backlash was swift and severe, with condemnation over a tweet that appeared to actively incite violence coming from all political corners.
Which is why it was also not surprising that the Arizona GOP took the tweet down, though it’s reasoning is both absurd and indicates the content of the tweet itself is something that group has no problem putting out in the future.
In an email to the Phoenix New Times on Tuesday, Arizona GOP communications director Zachery Henry bypassed the backlash over the now-deleted tweet by saying that it was taken down “due to concerns about copyright and fair use law.”
“The Republican Party of Arizona condemns all forms of violence in the strongest terms. Fictional movie scenes should be weighed in their proper context,” Henry told the Phoenix New Times in an email. “However, due to concerns about copyright and fair use law, this clip has been removed.”
The AZ GOP is full of crap. Copyright concerns didn’t suddenly materialize between when the tweet was posted and when the backlash began. No DMCA takedown was issued over the tweet, nor the image within it. The tweet was taken down over the backlash.
Except the AZ GOP now also can’t take any credit for taking down the tweet, since it’s indicated that the tweet wasn’t a problem save the copyright concerns. It’s the worst of all worlds, in other words.
But the most important aspect of this is, again, just how cynical it all is. The GOP knows Trump’s claims of fraud are absurd. But they’ll use them anyway to try to score political points. And if someone in, say, the home state of Gabbie Giffords has to get shot in the meantime, then so be it.