When Seeing Is Not Believing

In case we were thinking that a violent insurrection encouraged by the president to overturn the results of an election he lost might serve as a wakeup call for our Republican friends, here are the opening paragraphs of “How Republicans Are Warping Reality Around the Capitol Attack” (New York Times):

Immediately after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, all corners of the political spectrum repudiated the mob of President Txxxxโ€™s supporters. Yet within days, prominent Republicans, party officials, conservative media voices and rank-and-file voters began making a rhetorical shift to try to downplay the groupโ€™s violent actions.

In one of the ultimate donโ€™t-believe-your-eyes moments of the Txxxx era, these Republicans have retreated to the ranks of misinformation, claiming it was Black Lives Matter protesters and far-left groups like Antifa who stormed the Capitol โ€” in spite of the pro-Trump flags and QAnon symbology in the crowd. Others have argued that the attack was no worse than the rioting and looting in cities during the Black Lives Matter movement, often exaggerating the unrest last summer while minimizing a mobโ€™s attempt to overturn an election.

The shift is revealing about how conspiracy theories, deflection and political incentives play off one another in Mr. Txxxxโ€™s G.O.P. For a brief time, Republican officials seemed perhaps open to grappling with what their partyโ€™s leader had wrought โ€” violence in the name of their Electoral College fight. But any window of reflection now seems to be closing as Republicans try to pass blame and to compare last summerโ€™s lawlessness, which was condemned by Democrats, to an attack on Congress, which was inspired by Mr. Txxxx.