Dom Pérignon Democracy

Michigan’s Republican leadership said most of the right things on Friday evening, after emerging from a meeting at the White House with Donald Trump who, for lack of a nicer way to put it, is attempting to overrule voters in the state.

In a joint statement, Michigan’s Republican Senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, and House speaker, Lee Chatfield, said they “have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan.”

“We will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors,” they added, describing their ostensibly principled positions as “simple truths” in a democratic society.

Read more: ‘Simple Truths’ – Slowly, But Surely, Trump Loses Fight With Democracy

On Saturday, however, Republican chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and her Michigan counterpart, Laura Cox, called for the state not to certify the results of the election.

Michigan’s board of canvassers, McDaniel and Cox said, should “adjourn for fourteen days to allow for a full audit and investigation.”

Investigation into what?, you might ask. Well, “anomalies and irregularities,” of course. The same nonexistent (or, at best, totally immaterial) “anomalies” that Trump presumably discussed with Shirkey and Chatfield at the White House on Friday.

McDaniel and Cox cited a similar request from John James, a Republican Senate candidate, who claims he was robbed, just as Trump was allegedly cheated. And just like Trump, James won’t concede, despite having lost to Democrat Gary Peters by more than 90,000 votes.

In a November 5 statement, James, an Iraq veteran, tested out a tried-and-true strategy when it comes to conspiracy theories: Float one, and then claim anybody who doesn’t believe it is in on it.

“There is enough credible evidence to warrant an investigation to ensure that elections were conducted in a transparent, legal and fair manner,” James said. “Those who object likely have something to hide.”

Again, that is standard operating procedure for conspiracy theories. I’ll use an extreme example, not to construct a straw man, but rather to make clear what I mean: “I am requesting that city officials open a full and transparent investigation into credible claims that genetically-enhanced squirrels are behind a decision to raise the price of oysters at my favorite local seafood counter. Anyone who objects likely has something to hide.”

To be clear, I’m not weighing in one way or another on James’s claims. I simply don’t know enough about that particular Senate race to do so. What I am saying, though, is that his November 5 statement is almost boilerplate in terms of the self-referential logic used to justify claims of malfeasance: You make an assertion that falls somewhere on the continuum where one end is labeled “totally implausible” and the other end “largely baseless,” then you say that anyone who refuses to investigate is part of the alleged coverup.

Meanwhile, images circulated on social media Saturday which appeared to show Chatfield, along with other members of the Republican delegation from Michigan, drinking a bottle of Dom Pérignon at the Trump Hotel in Washington D.C., just hours after meeting with the president.

For the past two years, I’ve made a conscious and concerted effort to ensure that this site isn’t a gossip column, either vis-à-vis politics or markets. In keeping with that commitment, I am not publishing the images (although I did link to them above, but only after they were posted to Michigan Democrats’ verified Twitter profile), nor will I weigh in further on the matter.

What I will do, though, is quote Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Zack Pohl, who on Saturday posed a hypothetical.

“Close your eyes and try to imagine the reaction if someone photographed Gov. Whitmer in a Washington D.C. hotel bar, with a $500 bottle of Dom Pérignon, without a mask, on the day Michigan had nearly 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 and 53 deaths,” Pohl said.

[Note: The optics were similarly bad when California Governor Gavin Newsom attended an outdoor dinner party at the French Laundry on November 6. The gathering “included people from several households,” The San Francisco Chronicle said. Technically, the event didn’t violate state rules, but as The New York Times notes, “the governor’s attendance undermined the spirit of COVID-19 restrictions. Obviously, the situation with the Michigan delegation in D.C. is a bit different considering what was likely discussed at the White House and the lawmakers’ apparent accommodations at a facility that bears the president’s name.]

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8 thoughts on “Dom Pérignon Democracy

  1. Banana Republic……………………….

    I would love to know who paid for the bottle and why it is acceptable for a sitting president to monetarily benefit from this largesse?

    Didn’t happen at any other hotel, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Looks to me like the swamp is large and filled with Rs.

    60 more days

  2. Even Tucker Carlson is having a hard time relaying simple truths to fellow Trumpists. The basic premise has become.
    “Widespread and made obvious by the result is proof that cheating has occurred. It was done so well that proof is unobtainable, but we know they did it.”
    Known unknown, known.

  3. Sarah Blakewell in the Guardian:

    “As facts are presented as ‘fake news’ and ideas originating among those who deny the facts become government policy, we must remember that current talk about ‘post-truth’ has a political and intellectual lineage: the history of fascist lying.” Both George Orwell and Hannah Arendt, two of history’s most acute observers of totalitarianism, situated lying squarely at the heart of the totalitarian project. Not just the Hitlerian big lie of propaganda, but a culture of pervasive lying, what Arendt called “lying as a way of life” and “lying on principle”, systematic dishonesty that destroys the collective space of historical-factual reality. Orwell similarly insisted that lying is “integral to totalitarianism”: indeed, for Orwell, totalitarianism probably “demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth”….

  4. Now I hear that those intellectuals need to reform and stop talking down to people or they will not listen to the intellectuals. I am not sure how to characterize this Con, but my response has been to break out my crying towel for the jealousy of the Ignorant.

  5. Decades ago, my 8th grade science teacher had us play a game some days (I think it was wff-n-proof) intended to teach and reinforce our logical reasoning skills. I still recall her telling us that a side-benefit of this would be to help inoculate us against propaganda and social pressure. Back in those innocent times, she was likely thinking TV advertising and cigarette-smoking friends! But it stuck with me. Fast forward to social media today, and that side-benefit is now Job 1. It makes me wish training kids in logical reasoning and how to recognize propaganda of any stripe was an essential part of education, rather than a perq for kids who make it far enough in STEM.

    Maybe we’ll get there, if we can avoid civil war by 2024.

  6. My daughter’s middle school spent quite a bit of time over 3 years on teaching the kids to look critically at articles on the internet and what is a second hand or first hand source and whether it was a good one. This was public school in NYC and this was part of the curriculum. How much this impacts the kids I do not know but it was impressive. Do not give up hope. Trump did lose, although if a smarter potential totalitarian comes along (Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, maybe Marco Rubio) watch out.

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