Stephen Colbert’s notion of truthiness, coined 6 or so years ago, still effectively describes the rhetoric of the current crop of Republicans. The phenomena may have grown much deeper roots than I thought, too. It’s bad enough when a publicity seeking television star, having taken on the false trappings of a presidential campaign, first fabricated and then defended a profoundly “truthy” version of Paul Revere’s famous ride. The ring wing lack of respect for history, to put it mildly, is reflected in their public education policies as much in their public pronouncements.
That’s fairly superficial, and not too unlike what salespeople of all sorts have always done when speaking extemporaneously. It’s also an important characteristic of Reagan-era Republican practice. The Gipper was known to mix up movie plots and reality. It might be a mistake or it might be more purposeful. It’s probably impossible to tell, particularly when the speaker is Sarah Palin, who seems unable to admit to her own mistakes, no matter how obvious.
What is clear is that the practice is becoming more acceptable. Palin’s supporters did not simply argue, as they always do, that she was being quoted “out of context” or maligned in some way. This time they decided to take history into their own hands and alter Wikipedia, in hopes of showing that, well, Sarah Palin was being maligned. More disturbingly, a recent survey shows that the ongoing Republican attacks on the public schools have undermined the teaching of history. That’s the fertile ground for Republican truthiness.