As he insults NATO, jails immigrants and pulls out of the Paris Agreement, many American politicians cling to the idea that Donald Trump is an aberration, a new disease in American politics that both the party and the country as a whole are just beginning to grapple with. As anyone who remembers the actual fake news that led the country into the Iraq War, or who has followed the careers of operatives like Roger Stone (or just watched "Get me Roger Stone") can tell you, Trump's rise has been decades in the making.
"What happened on climate change," Paul Krugman writes in his Monday column, "isn’t an unusual case—and Trump isn’t especially unusual for a modern Republican."
Facts and expertise went out of style years ago, and "today’s G.O.P. doesn’t do substance; it doesn’t assemble evidence, or do analysis to formulate or even to justify its policy positions. Facts and hard thinking aren’t wanted, and anyone who tries to bring such things into the discussion is the enemy. When Trumpcare was assembled," Krugman asks, "Did the administration and its allies consult with experts, study previous experience with health reform, and try to devise a plan that made sense? Of course not. In fact, House leaders made a point of ramming a bill through before the Congressional Budget Office, or for that matter anyone else, could assess its likely impact."
When the CBO analyzed the latest version of the bill, it estimated a whopping 23 million Americans would lose healthcare. Instead of making any attempt to defend the bill, Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, decided to discredit the CBO, claiming the office did a "miserable" job of predicting the effects of the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and accused an office headed by a former Bush administration official of being biased toward Democrats. Never mind that Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price helped select the office's current director. Never mind that, as Krugman notes, "the White House did do an internal analysis of an earlier version of Trumpcare, which was leaked to Politico. Its predictions were even more dire than those from the C.B.O."
These facts are politically inconvenient, and now, "Truth as something that exists apart from and in possible opposition to political convenience, is no longer part of their philosophical universe," Krugman writes. He continues:
Influential conservatives have for years clung to what is basically a crazy conspiracy theory — that the overwhelming scientific consensus that the earth is warming due to greenhouse-gas emissions is a hoax, somehow coordinated by thousands of researchers around the world. And at this point this is effectively the mainstream Republican position.
They continue to say it's a hoax partly to protect the companies that profit from pollution, claiming that without regulation, "the magic of the marketplace can solve all problems," while at the same time swearing that these "magical markets would roll over and die if we put a modest price on carbon emissions, which is basically what climate policy would do." This is nonsense, Krugman contends, but it's not supposed to be true, it's supposed to be convenient: "Republicans want to keep burning coal, and they’ll say whatever helps produce that outcome."
Read the entire column.