John Cornyn is the Republican Senator from Texas not named Ted Cruz, and yesterday he vomited out these two tweets:
Now, let's say you're not the kind of person who clicks links and investigates every single tweet some politician makes. Imagine you don't know that the Free Beacon is an alt-right propaganda site. What might you conclude from these two tweets? What point is Cornyn making, based on what facts? The answers are pretty clear:
1. Cornyn is responding to a story in which Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asserts that “collateral damage” is okay for her political enemies.
2. By contextualizing it in terms of the consequences of political rhetoric, Cornyn invokes the pipe bombs and the synagogue shooting, and makes it pretty clear that Pelosi is referring to violence that might befall conservatives.
3. This is the Democratic version of Trump's rhetoric, which Dems and the media and others have accused of inspiring political violence. Since Pelosi says the same things about “those who don't share our view,” perhaps even more explicitly, the media is being hypocritical and there's an obvious equivalence.
Now, here's the thing: Pelosi was talking about something completely different, and she said it ten days ago. Here's the full quote, which came in a discussion with Paul Krugman about economic policy:
“We owe the American people to be there for them, for their financial security, respecting the dignity and worth of every person in our country, and if there is some collateral damage for some others who do not share our view, well, so be it, but it shouldn't be our original purpose.”
The “consequences” she's referring to are clearly economic consequences for the rich and corporations.
David Jolly, former Congressman, laid it out clearly:
So did Politico's Ben White:
Now, obviously the Free Beacon knew exactly what they were doing when they ran that headline, and so did Breitbart, and so did all the other conservative outlets and even House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
But as deceptive as they were, none of them found the article and tweeted it out ten days later, after the pipe bombs and the synagogue shooting. None of them were that blatant, and that quick to reach for anything that might make people say, “oh, both sides do it,” and remove any pressure on Trump and the GOP.
How do you handle that kind of lie? Some people may object to me using the term “lie,” since Cornyn accurately quoted Pelosi, and that's part of the problem—the implication, and the lack of context, turns this “quote” into a weapon of false equivalency. And in the off chance that Cornyn's intentions were innocent, he would have retracted the tweet, or even apologized, by now. He hasn't done either, which is all the confirmation anyone should need.
It’s gross, it’s misleading, and beyond the simple false information, it’s exactly the kind of rhetoric that could endanger Pelosi’s life—the kind Cornyn is supposedly ranting against. There’s another Cesar Sayoc out there somewhere, or perhaps many, and Cornyn just put a message out to those kinds of people that Pelosi wants, encourages, and will tolerate political violence. How do you think they’ll respond?
It’s deeply irresponsible, and the total lack of any remorse is just the latest proof of the morally bankrupt state of the Republican Party.