Actual Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy appears to be trying to dominate the GOP’s crowded “let’s hope Donald Trump gets trapped in a walk-in freezer while picking out his afternoon side of beef for high tea” lane, so he needs to cater to Trump’s cult in case Dear Leader does happen to pop his Crocs anytime in the next year. He also needs to genuflect to Trump if he wants to be his running mate, assuming Kari Lake and/or Marjorie Taylor Greene haven’t already buried their heads in his thigh like Rocky Mountain wood ticks by the time the Republican National Convention rolls around.
Ramaswamy, at his core, is sort of like a used car salesman who suddenly runs out of vehicles to hawk and starts selling ricin gas to terrorists. Sales are sales, right? What’s the difference between selling pharmaceuticals and promoting creeping fascism? Just get out there and put the best possible face on the product. Right?
Of course, when your “product” is the wit and wisdom of Trump—and Ramaswamy has been clear that he views Trump as a giant among men, who has all the best ideas—it can be a tough sell. Especially when you’re supposedly running against your hero.
Ramaswamy, who will presumably talk to anyone who will listen, appeared on “The Mehdi Hasan Show” on Tuesday. Hasan committed an overt act of journalism, refusing to let Ramaswamy pivot to his talking points before he answered a very clear, very easy question that has a really fucking obvious answer: What did you mean by your own words?
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It truly was a thing of beauty. Enjoy:
HASAN: “You say [Trump] behaved in downright abhorrent behavior that makes him a danger to democracy. What was it that was downright … tell me what he did that was downright abhorrent.”
RAMASWAMY: “Let’s actually be really fair to your audience. So on Jan. 10, 2021, thereabouts, days after that incident, I wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal arguing that censorship was the real cause of what happened on Jan. 6. ...”
HASAN: “Which isn’t true ...”
RAMASWAMY: “… Well, that’s what I wrote. I’m giving you the facts of what I said. That’s a hard fact. That was published in The Wall Street Journal.”
Vivek wrote something! And it was in The Wall Street Journal! That’s a hard fact, Mehdi. Ramaswamy deals in facts. Like the fact that he wrote a thing. Are you trying to imply that he didn’t write the thing that he actually did write in the publication where he did, in fact, write it? These are all facts!
Unfortunately, the fact that he wrote it stands in stark contrast to the fact that the “facts” he’s currently citing are not facts at all, but rather bullshit.
In fact, CNN’s Daniel Dale happened to fact-check said facts, and found them wanting.
Facts First: Ramaswamy’s claim is false. He never argued in The Wall Street Journal op-ed that censorship was the real cause of the January 6 riot. Rather, Ramaswamy and his co-author criticized social media companies for banning Trump and some of his supporters in the days after the riot. They argued that social media companies are violating the Constitution when they censor users, and they warned that Silicon Valley stifling the voices of disaffected Americans would lead to future “terror” that would make the Capitol riot look peaceful by comparison. They never argued in the op-ed that censorship was even a partial cause of the January 6 riot – which they described as “disgraceful,” “last week’s horror” and “a stain on American history” – let alone its primary cause.
Well, that’s awkward. But never mind facts. Back to the bullshit.
RAMASWAMY: “When pressed on, was that condoning what Trump did, my answer was no. There’s a difference between a bad judgment and a crime, and we need to be able to tell the difference in this country.”
HASAN: “Understood, and you’re avoiding my question. What did Donald Trump do, in your view, that was downright abhorrent? Second time I’m asking that question.”
RAMASWAMY: “I think that the thing that I would have done differently if I were in his shoes, is that I would have declared [for] reelection on Jan. 7. That’s exactly the thing I would have done.”
So is he saying he would have tried to steal the election right up to, and through, Jan. 6, but would have ultimately relented after several Americans died as a result of his actions? That Trump’s only sin was not understanding that his illegal coup had failed and the jig was up, so it was time to start the next one?
That’s kind of weird. Has he focus-grouped that talking point with suburban mothers?
HASAN: “That’s not what I asked, with respect. I’ll ask it a third time. What did Trump do that was egregious, quote, downright abhorrent, and a danger to democracy? Can you just explain to our viewers? Your words.”
RAMASWAMY: “So, so, so you’re mixing two different quotes, but what did I think was reprehensible about what happened that day? Look, I think that the way a true leader should have handled that situation should have been to actually say, this is me running for reelection, not actually litigating what is already passed in behind us, and I would have done things differently. That is not a crime, though, what he did. And the reason I have been so vehement …”
HASAN: “I understand. You keep saying what you would have done. I just want to hear from your mouth, no, no. Unless you’re scared of him, why wouldn’t you say what he did that was downright abhorrent?”
RAMASWAMY: “Mehdi, I’m not going to let you stitch, you’re stitching together three things from three different places.”
“I said Trump was abhorrent and a danger to democracy in totally different places! Stop twisting my words around, Fake News Media!”
HASAN: “I’ll read the quote. Let’s put up the tweet, let’s put up the tweet. ‘What Trump did last week was wrong.’”
RAMASWAMY: “Do you want to have an actual conversation?”
RAMASWAMY’S JAN. 12, 2021 TWEET DISPLAYED ONSCREEN: “What Trump did last week was wrong. Downright abhorrent. Plain and simple. I’ve said it before and did so in my piece.”
HASAN: “Yes, I want you to answer my question, Vivek. Three times I’ve asked it. What did Trump do that was downright abhorrent? It’s a simple question. It’s your words. It’s onscreen. What did he do that was downright abhorrent?”
RAMASWAMY: “I believe that failing to unite this country falls short of what a true leader ought to do. That is why I’m in this race, is to do things differently than any prior president has done them. That’s the hard truth, okay?”
I've heard that if you light a candle, stare straight into the mirror, and say “Ramaswamy” three times, the ghost of Karl Rove shows up and gives you new talking points.
Wait, is Karl Rove dead? He’s not, is he?
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I’d just assumed his soul has long been keen to pop out of that body. Or vice versa. Assuming Cartesian dualism is really a thing, that is. What did Descartes say? “I ratfuck, therefore I am an asshole?” (To those dozens of haters who kept asking me what I’d ever do with a philosophy degree—ha! Asked and answered, fucknuts. Move along, now.)
RAMASWAMY: “Well, the reality is none of that is a crime, and the reason I have been so vocal is because when somebody actually prosecutes somebody for a bad judgment—and I have been clear, he made bad judgments, I would have made different judgments—that is a distinction we have to draw.”
But, but, but—a lot of what Trump did is almost certainly a crime. That’s why he’s been charged with 91 felonies in four separate cases.
But that’s not what Hasan asked, is it? He asked, more than once, what Trump did that, in Ramaswamy’s own words, was “abhorrent.” But Ramaswamy can’t answer that because he is scared of Donald Trump—and his base. And he wants to be his vice president, commerce secretary, royal bath tub attendant, and/or Diet Coke gofer. Whatever’s available. So long as he ultimately has a place within Trump’s inner circle/listless sphincter.
Of course, Ramaswamy no doubt actually did think Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 were “abhorrent”—back in that brief window when it was still safe for Republicans to state the obvious. But he sure can't say that now, because the voters he needs to win the GOP primary—or to position himself as Trump’s ward and sidekick—won’t hear of it. All they want to hear is that the election was stolen, and Mike Pence deserved to hang for forestalling our glorious Thousand-Year Trumpian Reich.
ACTION: Sign the petition: Denounce Vivek Ramaswamy’s proposal to raise the voting age to 25.
Hasan, on the other hand, is doing what every journalist confronted with Big Lies, Big Liars, and fascism-dressed-in-jingoistic-pantaloons should do: make these scoundrels answer the hard questions about Trump’s ongoing anti-democratic crusade. Don’t let them pivot. Ever. If they don’t like it, they can get off the stage. This is a democracy, after all.
Thank you, Mehdi. And let’s have a lot more of this from our media. Please.
Here’s the entire interview, in case you want to watch more of this.
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