You cannot make this up

Senator Chuck Grassley struck an indignant tone a few hours after he and all of his fellow Republicans filibustered a bill that would have forced states to meet federal standards for absentee and early voting, and would have required more political groups to disclose their donors.

In his trademark Twitter style (lacking punctuation and some vowels), Grassley told his 660,000 followers that Democrats should drop their “massive partisan election takeover bill based on lies abt widespread voter suppression.” Anyone with proof of illegal discrimination in voting should take it to court, he said. “Don’t talk down our democratic process Best in world.”

Former President Donald Trump talks down our democratic process on almost a daily basis. His lies about the 2020 election, amplified by conservative media, have convinced a majority of Republicans that Joe Biden didn’t legitimately win the presidency.

That doesn’t bother Grassley, who was happy to accept Trump’s endorsement at a Des Moines rally this month where the crowd chanted, “Trump won!” and the former president spent about 30 minutes falsely claiming to have carried Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

Shortly after scolding Democrats not to denigrate U.S. elections, Grassley went beyond hypocrisy to complicity as he tweeted,

No one’s votes were “diluted by fraud” in 2020. That talking point is both a way to validate Trump’s Big Lie and a pretext for creating new barriers to voting, especially methods Democrats use more than Republicans (early voting and voting by mail).

Like every other prominent Iowa Republican, Grassley sees an advantage in promoting the myth of election “irregularities”—in states Biden won. And like he’s been doing for the last five years, the senator goes to absurd lengths not to acknowledge damage done by the narcissist who dominates his party.

Speaking of cynical rhetoric, Grassley used his platform as ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee to push another divisive and false trope on October 20. Reading from a prepared text as he kicked off the GOP questioning of Judge Holly Thomas, a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit, Grassley asserted that “a male wearing a skirt had sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in the girls’ bathroom” at a Virginia school in May.

Conservative media have pushed that narrative over the past two weeks in an apparent effort to influence the upcoming Virginia election, even though the assailant wasn’t confirmed to be wearing a skirt, nor did the school have trans-inclusive bathroom policies when the assault occurred. (Research has found “no evidence that letting transgender people use public facilities that align with their gender identity increases safety risks.”)

Huffington Post reporter Jennifer Bendery noted that Senator Josh Hawley used up all of his question time to ask Thomas about bathroom policies that accommodate transgender people. Senator Marsha Blackburn also asked the judicial nominee about trans people in public bathrooms, and so did Senator Ted Cruz. Bendery concluded, “It is increasingly looking like Republican senators are trying to blow up this incident — echoing unconfirmed details aimed at fueling transphobia — to try to help the GOP win the VA governor’s race on Nov. 2.”

Republican politicians across the country have introduced more legislation this year targeting transgender youth, an already marginalized group that has higher rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Dan Cox, senior fellow in polling and public opinion for the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told Axios in March that bashing trans-inclusive policies helps Republicans.

“On the Democratic side, this is not an issue that really excites the base,” he told Axios. “But on the right, I think these issues are really, really salient, so it tends to fire up folks disproportionately on the right than the left.”

“A lot of this stuff is being framed as dangerous for children. That harkens back to the gay rights movement,” he said. “And that’s a pretty effective way to get people who are sort of more moderate and middle of the road off and active on this issue. It’s not random that these are the issues that are being brought up.”

At age 88, Grassley could be winding down his career as an elder statesman and voice of reason within his party. Instead he covers for Trump’s abuses of power and mouths whatever garbage message may help Republicans on any given day.

UPDATE: Bendery published more about the Judiciary Committee hearing that became a “transphobic spectacle.”

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