You may have heard about CJ Pearson. He’s the 13 year old African American who spouts right wing talking points on YouTube. Conservatives love that: kids who are able to parrot the arguments they hear on Rush Limbaugh. And the fact that this was coming from an African America, well, that was just too delicious to turn down. In fact, Ted Cruz made him his youth-outreach chairman. But the conservative movement has turned on the poor young man. It turns out that he’s been involved in a number of scams — and I’m not even referring to Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.
I suspect that he was outed by the conservative movement itself because he’s black. It’s not that conservative journalists don’t trust African Americans. It’s just that they were on the alert for being punked. It’s the same way that I was when I heard that long-time abortion rights opponent Claire Conner had changed her political orientation. As with Conner, usually when someone says that she has had a change of heart, she’s being honest. But you want to be sure. And when you are talking about a young man who comes from a group that the Republicans have treated so badly, you’d be extra cautious.
Just the same, what is it that Pearson has done wrong? He pulled a hoax trying to show that the Obama Twitter account blocked him. He staged a Twitter argument between himself and someone who was supposedly a racist Obama supporter, but was, in fact, Pearson himself. These are all totally in the tradition of James O’Keefe, who is not only still a hero in the conservative movement, but taken seriously by the mainstream media. I suspect the only difference is that Pearson’s scams were too easy to figure out. It took a little time to unmask O’Keefe’s tricks, and by that time, they had been hugely successful.
Brian Beutler noted another uncomfortable comparison, Carly Fiorina Abuses the Truth Just Like a Teenage Conservative Hoaxer. Fiorina either lied or was spectacularly misinformed at the last Republican debate when she claimed to have seen a particularly gruesome video where Planned Parenthood was keeping a fetus outside the womb alive so they could harvest its brain. As Beutler said, “In fact, basically every factual claim… is untrue.” Yet far from abandoning her, the conservative movement has circled the wagons for her. Why would that be?
Beutler’s answer is just that the stakes are high for Fiorina and they aren’t for Pearson. But I have a feeling, they wouldn’t go to the mat for Ben Carson. But don’t get the wrong idea: I don’t think that has anything at all to do with race. Rather, I think a lot of conservatives have it in mind that Fiorina is going to be the vice-presidential candidate. They think of her as their secret anti-Hillary weapon, because everyone knows that women just want to vote for another woman, and they don’t care who the woman is or what the position is. Nominating a clearly unqualified anti-feminist woman for vice-president will be just as good as nominating an extremely qualified feminist woman for president.
Ultimately, like all things with Republicans these days, it is all about power. Truth doesn’t matter; power does. If Carly Fiorina says “2 + 2 = 5,” well, it does — as long as she is part of the Republican strategy to take control of the White House. And the fact that the Republican Party has gotten to this point is very troubling. I no longer think that having responsibility will actually make them responsible. And they know from experience that as badly as they may screw up, it will only cost them one election cycle — if that.