Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
GOP Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan was apparently so desperate to suck up to Donald Trump at his rally this weekend in her state that she falsely boasted to the crowd of adoring Trump fans that the former President had “caught Osama bin Laden.” In reality, bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011, when President Barack Obama was in the White House and Trump was hosting the season of “The Celebrity Apprentice” featuring Gary Busey and Meat Loaf.
Maybe next McClain will claim that Trump is responsible for curing polio.
But in reality, why would facts matter to McClain – a first-term member of Congress who voted to reject the 2020 election results after the January 6 attack – when speaking at a Trump rally? Neither she nor Trump was there to educate voters but rather to spew pro-Trump propaganda designed to bolster the former President at the expense of our democratic republic.
After all, the star attraction of Saturday’s rally was Trump, who peddled even more lies about the 2020 election, claiming, “We did win. We did win.” No, Trump lost. But McClain clearly was not troubled by Trump’s very lies that gave us the January 6 attack.
It also explains why a sitting member of Congress such as McClain could speak at a rally covered by the media and not care about taking even a few minutes to fact-check her speech. And I don’t mean just on her false claim that Trump caught bin Laden. She also stated, “Under President Trump – if my memory serves me correctly – I don’t believe we had any wars.”
A sitting member of Congress saying, “If my memory serves me correctly,” is not what a person says if she cares about the audience learning the truth. The same when McClain later said about Trump, “I think he made three peace treaties.” Obviously, McClain could have checked to see how many so-called peace treaties Trump made to know the number. (She might be referring to Trump’s Abraham Accords between Israel and some Arab neighbors – but who really knows?)
And the idea there were no wars while Trump was in the White House, as McClain suggested, must come as a shock to the people of Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan. In fact, under Trump, our military took action in Yemen and Syria and provided support to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
But beyond McClain’s lack of concern about telling the truth, far more alarming is that she overlooked Trump praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and a federal judge saying that Trump “more likely than not” engaged in crimes in attempting to overturn the 2020 election. None of that concerned her enough to avoid sharing a stage with and praising Trump.
Last week, a federal judge issued an opinion that detailed how Trump – along with his lawyer John Eastman – “launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history.” The judge also jaw-droppingly explained that if Trump’s and Eastman’s “plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution.” (Trump has denied the allegations.)
On Tuesday, Trump publicly called on Putin to help him get dirt on the Bidens. And just a week ago at a Georgia rally, Trump praised Putin as “smart” at the very time the Russian leader was engaging in likely war crimes – as President Joe Biden stated – in his quest to exterminate Ukraine’s democracy.
Beyond that un-American conduct, during Saturday’s rally, Trump also undermined the rule of law by defending Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, who just days ago resigned from Congress after being convicted of lying to the FBI in connection with an investigation into potential illegal campaign contributions.
During the rally, Trump shared with the audience how unfair he thought this prosecution was, reportedly saying, “A congressman is being put in jail over a few dollars that he possibly didn’t even know anything about, he’s going to jail.”
Facts don’t matter, the rule of law doesn’t matter, our democratic republic doesn’t matter to McClain or any other Republican who is still blindly saddling up to Trump because they believe it helps them acquire or retain political power. That’s not how a democracy thrives; it’s how it dies.
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Trump didn’t catch bin Laden, as McClain claimed. But the words of another GOP President, George W. Bush, shortly after the 9/11 attack masterminded by bin Laden, are fitting: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
Today’s GOP candidates should be asked to tell us: “Either you are with democracy in the United States or with Donald Trump.” Voters deserve that answer before November’s election because there is no overlap between the two.