Republican politicians lined up recently to accuse President Joe Biden of parroting a story of a “fake” 10-year-old rape victim, who was compelled to travel across state lines to terminate her pregnancy.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost led the charge. In an appearance on Fox News, Yost disputed the story, claiming his discussions with prosecutors and local law enforcement officials about the case yielded “not a whisper anywhere.” Shortly after Yost’s remarks, Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, weighed in, tweeting: “Another lie. Anyone surprised?”
After news broke of the arrest of a 27-year-old man in connection with the rape, Jordan deleted his tweet. But when confronted by a reporter seeking an explanation, the congressman from Ohio refused to take responsibility for falsely accusing Biden of peddling an untruthful, emotionally charged story for political advantage.
“I was responding to a headline,” Jordan told CNN’s Manu Raju, “… doubting Joe Biden, which is usually a smart thing to do.”
Even the Wall Street Journal — the GOP’s mainstream media mouthpiece — chimed in, calling the story a “fanciful tale,” in a published, and subsequently retracted, editorial. The newspaper’s original version singled out Biden as the story’s chief provocateur: “What we seem to have here is a presidential seal of approval on an unlikely story from a biased source that neatly fits the progressive narrative but can’t be confirmed.”
Attacking Biden’s credibility, after he spoke to the American people of a real-life example of the harrowing decisions facing women and girls in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to rob them of their reproductive autonomy, captures the depth of the Republicans’ contempt for the Democratic president and the values held by the majority of voters who elected him.
The GOP’s derisive drumbeat of disinformation about Biden exposes its hostility toward the man who defeated Republican Party standard bearer, Donald Trump, in a free, fair, and secure presidential election, while laying bare its ultimate purpose: the debasement of Biden as the Chief Executive of the United States, Commander in Chief of the United States Military, and the leader of the free world.
If their character assassination campaign rings a bell, it’s because the Grand Old Party launched a similar attack on another Democrat elected to the presidency, Barack Obama. Fueled by the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the GOP’s Tea Party cohort coalesced around a profound animosity toward the policy agenda championed by America’s first Black president and, by extension, President Obama himself.
Eighteen months after the Jan. 6 insurrection nearly preempted Biden’s inauguration, a grim reality is shaping the contours of the November mid-term elections: MAGA Republicans –- the Trump-era incarnation of the Tea Party movement — are resorting to vitriol and threats of violence to degrade their opponents and impose their repressive political agenda on the American people.
Recoiling as our system of representative government dangles by a thread, Americans of all political perspectives must not lose sight of this fact: The Republican National Committee, the political arm charged with developing and promoting the Republican Party platform as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy, declared the Jan. 6 insurrection and events that led to it “legitimate political discourse.”
Disturbingly, their depravity is paying off: Republicans are hauling in record amounts of political campaign contributions ahead of the mid-term elections. Earlier this month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee reported raising $173 million during the last reporting cycle, an all-time fundraising record.
Averting the devastating consequences of a Republican rout in November hinges on voters and donors, from across the political spectrum, coming to grips with a staggering truth: the Republican Party’s win-at-all-costs mentality is an existential threat to American democracy.
A second-generation San Diegan and nonprofit consultant, Molly Bowman-Styles is the president of Windansea Communications.