Does it matter at this point that a departing president nominated a superspreader of his latest crackpot theories to a top Pentagon post? Just the need to ask the question makes this a very special moment in our nation's history.
If confirmed by the Senate, Scott O'Grady, a former Air Force fighter pilot, would become assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Signifying his loyalty to the delusions of President Donald Trump, O'Grady has repeatedly retweeted false postings that said Trump won the election in "landslide fashion" and that millions of votes were illegal.
One of O'Grady's more preposterous postings said, "Trump won & Biden & his Comrades will now attempt a coup," next to a manipulated image of President-elect Joe Biden beside Chinese President Xi Jinping, CNN noted Friday. Trump clearly has a C-team of talking heads helping to make noise in the name of drowning out a proper succession at the White House.
Some of the leading propagandists are bought and paid for with criminal pardons or commutations. One of them, Roger Stone, the self-proclaimed "dirty trickster," blurted in an interview: "I just learned of absolute incontrovertible evidence of North Korean boats delivering ballots through a harbor in Maine."
Another, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, never known as loyal to facts, has been nattering darkly about a need for the military to nullify the election. Last week, he shared a bizarre message encouraging Trump to "temporarily suspend the Constitution," impose martial law and "silence the destructive media."
All the while, new figures appear in this parade. One overnight internet sensation was a Michigan hearing "witness" named Melissa Carone, who delivered strange remarks about the vote there. Taken together, her statements were both unintelligible and accusatory. Even Trump's top lawyer Rudy Giuliani, seated alongside her, apparently gestured to Carone to tone it down.
Former Trump team lawyer Sidney Powell’s performance at a recent news conference was so unmoored, it led other forever-Trumpers to distance themselves from her fabrications about corrupted voting systems.
Perhaps in line with Trump's post-term agenda, Atlanta-based celebrity lawyer Lin Wood has been suggesting that Republican voters in Georgia should boycott the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs there, purportedly to force elected GOP officials to act on Trump's demands to overturn Biden’s win in the Peach State.
On Wednesday, Wood told Trump supporters at a rally: "We're not going to vote on your damn machines made in China. We're going to vote on machines made in the USA." Republican Gabriel Sterling of the Georgia secretary of state's office, who recently appealed for crazed threats against his staff to stop, decried the actions of Wood as "looney tunes."
Don't be surprised. All this is rooted in the fact that Trump embraced or spread risible conspiracy hoaxes throughout his tenure almost as frequently as he played golf: the Barack Obama birther theory, the Hillary Clinton "server" fraud, the Wuhan lab plot, the 2016 popular-vote claims, the inaugural crowds and statements about global warming and vaccines.
Don't blame these parade marchers alone for poisoning democracy. The buck stops with the fabulist in chief.