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Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
Not good enough.
That Rush Limbaugh thinks this way really isn't news, but it's a perfect description of the ideology-over-substance obsession that has turned conservatism into a movement with no actual ideology at all.
"It's just every Republican who has entered the fray defending Christie has to put a caveat out there 'if he's telling the truth.' Now, if there were a fervent ideological foundation, if there was a substantive reason of believing in Governor Christie, then whether he lied wouldn't matter. They'd be out there defending him left and right just to make sure the Democrats don't get away with this."
At the risk of needing to douse myself in a tub of holy water after this: Rush Limbaugh ain't wrong. If Chris Christie was seen as a true part of the movement, an ideological conservative of the required purity, then whether he lied about orchestrating and subsequently covering up an intentionally created threat to public safety as payback for some real or imagined partisan slight wouldn't matter. The conservative movement would be backing him up, damn the truth, rather than letting the media and the Demmycrats "get away with" exposing the corruption.

It's not just rapidly decaying blowhards like Rush Limbaugh who think this way; it's a staple of Fox News programming, and you can see the same dynamic at work in most of the Republican primaries, and in Congress. Climate change is not seriously argued against from a scientific standpoint, but is declared to be a hoax by a congressional platoon that simply don't like the policy implications. From internet conservatives to actual conservative election gurus like Karl Rove, the movement was convinced Mitt Romney would win the election apparently even on the night of the election, convinced that all previous polling was somehow biased against them, intentionally or accidentally, on a conspiratorial scale. Benghazi! has received more attention than all other attacks on American embassies in the last 10 years combined, almost entirely due to the devolution of the Darrell Issa-led House Oversight Committee into a conspiracy theory breeding farm. (Note, for example, the sheer number of times the committee has "leaked" or "reported" discoveries that (1) were based on the apparently intentional burying of contrary evidence or (2) had been proven wrong weeks or months before a committee report breathlessly asserted them. Under recent leadership, the committee has proven itself to have the "investigative" chops of a Regnery or World Net Daily.)

It's not just whether or not a "lie" matters; to this new brand of "true" conservatism, outcomes don't matter either. Non-insane House and Senate Republicans were pilloried for pointing out that a federal government shutdown would cause damage, or would not benefit the party; the point before, during and after was not whether or not the shutdown "worked," but who was willing to commit themselves to the ideological purity of doing the thing, regardless of outcome, and who wasn't. A true conservative believes welfare programs do not reduce poverty, regardless of the last 100 years of evidence to the contrary—showing the correct religious commitment to a belief matters far more than whether that belief has been proven imbecilic. Freedom is sacrosanct for a man, but can be far more narrowly defined for a woman. Wars are good or bad depending on who started them. There really is no end to it.

When you get to the point where you cannot reliably predict movement beliefs according to their own supposed ideology, but you can predict them to near-perfection simply by looking at what the supposed enemies of the movement are for and reversing it, you don't really have an ideology anymore, do you? What the Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa, tea party wing of the party reliably act upon is not things like whether he lied or whether he did cocaine or whether shutting the government down was a boondoggle; it is a religious movement, or a faux-nationalist one, or perhaps an outright Confederate one. My enemy is my enemy; my morals, my ethics, and my very beliefs are dependent upon what would separate me from my enemy the most.

Originally posted to Hunter on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 11:17 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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