Fake It Till You Make It

Another bullshit moderate Republican makes his pitch

Some of you folks may be aware of Judicial Watch, one of several right-wing outfits that stuff your grandparents' inboxes with propaganda. They describe themselves as a "watchdog" organization, but a quick look at their front page (Hillary! Huma Abedin! Illegal immigrants!) shows their main objective is to get the goods on liberals -- or, if they cannot get the goods in a legal sense, at least to smear them enough with insinuations that the Scaife and Olin Foundations keep the money coming.

To this end Judicial Watch throws FOIA requests like Rip Taylor throws confetti, and issues dudgeon-heavy press releases mainly read by conservative website editors hungry for filler. Occasionally they get caught circulating outright untruths but, since their audience is mainly uninterested in the veracity of the slurs they consume, that doesn't make much difference in their approach.

As you may have guessed, Judicial Watch spends an enormous amount of time trying to Lock-Her-Up Hillary Clinton, but they also like to keep up with the news — or, rather, associate their various longtime mania with current events. Take the "caravan" of refugees Trump has been portraying as an invading army of criminals. Judicial Watch has for years announced that ISIS has teamed up with gangs from South of the Border to take over the U.S. — here is one such screed from 2014, in which the Watch reported, "Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED)," a plan which would seem to have been seriously delayed. This week Judicial Watch declared "100 ISIS Terrorists Caught in Guatemala as Central American Caravan Heads to U.S.”:

In a startling revelation, Guatemala’s president announced in the country’s largest newspaper that nearly 100 ISIS terrorists have been apprehended in the impoverished Central American nation. Why should Americans care about this? A caravan of Central American migrants is making its way north. Let’s not forget that Guatemala is one of the countries that bombarded the U.S. with illegal immigrant minors under Barack Obama’s open border free-for-all. They came in droves from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala through the Mexican border and for years Uncle Sam rolled out the welcome mat offering housing, food, medical treatment and a free education

A terrorist could have easily slipped in considering the minors, coined Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC), were not properly vetted and some turned out to be violent gangbangers who went on to commit heinous crimes in their adopted land of opportunity...

Never mind that the caravan originated in Honduras, not Guatemala; that the 100-ISIS claim was made by Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales, widely known as the Donald Trump of Guatemala, which speaks to his credibility; and that there is no evidence any such ISIS fighters were standing by the side of the road with hobo bindles of bombs, clean underwear, and peanut butter sandwiches slung over their shoulders waiting to join the caravan — Judicial Watch nonetheless finds it supports their fantasy of a Central American jihad.

But I'm not bringing this up because I'm particularly interested in Judicial Watch; well-endowed as they are by wingnut billionaires, in the universe of conservative bullshit diffusers they are a dime a dozen. I'm bringing them up in the context of one Republican's candidacy to represent Ward 6 on the DC City Council.

Michael Bekesha's a nice-looking young white guy who is proud to "mentor local residents" and "work with a local animal rescue organization" and likes to talk about "the value of community." How does he make ends meet? According to his campaign site:

During the day, I work as an attorney for a not-for-profit government, watchdog group. We seek to promote transparency, accountability and integrity in government and politics and fidelity to the rule of the law. In this role, I have worked with private citizens, journalists, other not-for-profit organizations to seek the truth from their government.

A quick Google reveals that the “not-for-profit” Bekesha works for is Judicial Watch: "Most recently, Michael deposed current and former senior level State Department officials about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a non-state.gov email account to conduct official government business."

Bekesha doesn't seem to want that to get around — you won't find Judicial Watch named at his website, nor in interviews, like this one from The Hill Is Home, where they apparently don't think to ask ("I’m not a Donald Trump Republican. I’m not a scary Republican. I’m socially progressive, fiscally responsible. My wife’s a Democrat..."). But when he's talking to a reporter who does mention it, as did Rob Brunner at Washingtonian, Bekesha’s got a nice rap to get around it:

When not holed up in his coworking HQ, [Bekesha's] an attorney for the conservative organization Judicial Watch, which has made a point of going after Robert Mueller. But he says that in policy terms, he’s running as a different kind of Republican -- a necessity in a city where only 4 percent of voters opted for Trump in the 2016 election. “I’m socially progressive but fiscally responsible,” Bekesha says, settling into a sofa in a WeWork conference room.

Different kind of Republican! Socially progressive! WeWork conference room! Not two grafs in and we already have Jeff Flake bingo.

Bekesha disassociates himself from Donald Trump in a fastidiously circuitous way: "I was not a supporter of President Trump. My concern is that the party of ideas that I grew up knowing is going to be gone." (By the way, you can read a transcript of Bekesha's February Fox News appearance, defending Trump from any hint of foreknowledge of the crimes of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates: "It's really difficult to vet people, and in the quick pace that the campaign was going...")

When Brunner asks why Bekesha doesn't run as an independent instead, Bekesha says, "Running as an independent is difficult for a ward council seat. And as idealistic as it sounds, I want to try and save the Republican Party." He also tells Brunner that his wife is a Democrat and how unfair it is that in DC one finds "a lot of people who think that if you’re a Republican, you’re a racist" and that they "expect me to be nasty like Donald Trump," when clearly he's a very likable, reasonable fellow.

Then, presumably, Bekesha went back to work trying to nail Hillary Clinton. Or, if he had some extra time, maybe he helped his colleagues make Central American refugees look like ISIS. (Speaking of which, get a load of Bekesha and his boss talking about the menace of illegal immigrants and "sanctuary cities.”)

One place Bekesha, like all pretend GOP squishes, can count on an easy time is the mainstream media, in this case the Washington Post, which this weekend ran a glowing profile of the candidate: “An ‘urban Republican’ runs for city council in Trump-despising, Democratic D.C.” Fish out of water, amirite?

A couple of residents the Post’s Steve Hendrix quotes say Bekesha sounds reasonable, but they won’t vote for him because this year they’re not going to vote for any Republicans — which Hendrix tut-tuts as “partisan fuming over Trump.” Hendrix notes that “two voters have harangued him for belonging to the GOP, one of them outside a polling place on primary Election Day.” That’s just how these Antifa Dems are, folks. But surely you moderate Democrats understand Bekesha’s anti-Trump, at least as far as he dares? “His arms-length posture is not just strategic, it’s personal,” Hendrix insists. “He has considered leaving the party since Trump won the nomination and then the White House.” And one day, by God, he might just do it!

Come on, folks! Bekesha “wrote in the name of Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president in 2016.” He “doesn’t own a car, lives in a Navy Yard apartment with a Democratic wife and a rescue beagle.” A Navy Yard apartment! Why, it probably cost less than a million dollars! What’s it gonna take with you Democratic mob types!

Wingnut hardliner on the job, Social Progressive with the slobs: Is anyone enough of a sap to buy this act? Given how many conservatives are terrified that voters have caught on that the GOP is just a criminal conspiracy anymore, and are in consequence running as a “different kind of Republican,” I guess we’re about to find out.