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By Hal Brown
Heather "Digby" Parton wrote this about Sen. Tommy Tuberville:
"Whether he's dim or whether he's calculated, it really doesn't matter."
It is from her Salon article:
After the media went into a frenzy on Tuesday, he did finally relent and admit that that white nationalism is racist but it's pretty clear that he doesn't believe that. Like his brethren in the House Freedom Caucus, Tommy Tuberville is a MAGA performance artist and he put on quite a show. Whether he's dim or whether he's calculated, it really doesn't matter.
In one respect she's correct, although in another she's not. It does matter. This doesn't apply just to Tommy Tuberville, but to all the ultra-MAGA group from those making the news to the clownish crowds at Trump rallies and others who make up both the Trump cult MAGAs the no longer Trump worshipping MAGA world.
Consider, just in the news, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo and her newsest conspiracy theory (here)
Ask whether it matters whether or not she believes this. If she does she's not only a dim bulb but a demented bulb who needs psychiatric intervention. After all, what Philip Bump is describing as unmoored means unmoorred from reality and this is a sign of severe mental illness.
Then there's Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) who suggested "penguins" were to blame when scientists testified that Covid-19 was created in nature (story here). She was questioning scientists testifying about the origins of Covid at a House Oversight Committee meeting:
"The scientific literature, you know, the publication of the pangolin genomic sequence showed that there was a receptor binding domain," Garry said. "And it was a very important piece of data because it showed that a lot of the theories about, you know, the virus having been engineered or put together in a laboratory were not true because here was a virus in nature that had a receptor binding domain with exactly the same structure."
Malliotakis confused the research on pangolins, which resembles an anteater, with penguins.
"I just find it all interesting based on what my other colleague here, the chairman of the committee, said in reply to the issue of the penguins," she said.
To give her the benefit of the doubt I'd say her bulb is rather dim when it comes to science, nature, and even common sense considering the fact that penguins live in Antartica. Perhaps it was just a slip of the tongue since lots of people don't know what pangolins are.
Then we come to the more notorious well-known purveyors of conspiracy hokuum from the once mighty Tucker Carlson to Marjorie Taylor Greene and those who mouth the nonsense promoted by QAnon.
Those with a brand to sell, whether politicians or pundits on the far-right, have a motive to spit the silly and stupid to the gullible. At the worst they pander hate and fear to their audience. Case in point, yet another timely example comes from Fox News host Jesse Watters who is heir apparent to Tucker Carlson:
Watters then declared, without citing any sources, that "some people have told me that I have actually done more for women's sports than Meg Rapinoe has done, that maybe she's a traitor in the war on women and I have fought valiantly in that war, obviously on the women's side. And that's not me saying that, and I actually disagree with that. I'm just saying it's something that's being said."
Watters also asserted of Rapinoe that "women have also told me because — she's a lesbian, I believe. Is that true? — that she may have a different feeling about the trans issue than straight women, that she feels an allyship. Am I using allyship correctly?" Watters wondered.
We just don't know whether he believes this or whether he is only hyping homophobia for his far-right audience. My hunch he is engaging in brand building. He knows this is the kind of hateful rhetoric that will increase his viewership. He knows he has big bigot boots to fill if he's ever to top Tucker.
Getting to the title question as to whether these people are mentally dim bulbs or bright lights, I view this through the lens of a retired therapist trying to have some empathy (not easy to do) for the small army of influencers who spew their hateful propaganda to so many susceptible people. If they do do this with deliberation they should all be exiled to an inaccessible and inhospitable island where they can sustain themselves by devouring each other's flesh.
If they are clinically delusional they need and should receive psychiatric treatment.
If they are dim bulbs who were born with impaired mental capacity they ought to have remedial education.
How's this for empathy?