I am pretty sure my bathroom scale is a Republican.
And I have Al Melvin, that reliably misguided Arizona tea-party conservative, to thank for this revelation. Before I read his response to finding out that he’d erroneously quoted President Lincoln on Twitter, I’d been under the assumption that a fact is a fact.
Oh, but no. Hardly.
Melvin, who is running for Arizona governor — well, at this point he’s running in the Republican primary to run for Arizona governor — recently tweeted several “quotes” he attributed to Lincoln.
We all would like to believe that great people agree with us, especially when they say things that are tailor-made for short tweets.
Except Lincoln never said those words about class hatred or weakening the strong. They came from a minister, William J. H. Boetcker, who was born in 1873, nearly a decade after Lincoln was killed.
Now, people do get things wrong. They say something they believe to be true, only to find out they’ve made a boo-boo. I’ve done it — everyone has. It happens. You apologize, correct the record and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
But Melvin is a repeater. He wrongly attributed another quote to Lincoln in a June 21, 2011, Twitter post and was corrected by the Arizona Republic’s AZ Fact Check.
It’s not simply that Melvin was wrong, it’s the response — or lack of it. The Lincoln “quotes” are still up on his Twitter account.
In Melvin’s defense, Ronald Reagan made the same mistake at the 1992 Republican National Convention. And if you’re going to be wrong, you could have no better role model than Ronald Reagan.
But here is how Arizona’s Sun-Tea Party King has changed my life. And he could change yours, too. You just have to believe (the right thing).
When told by Capitol Media Services that he incorrectly attributed those quotes to Lincoln — and that a Lincoln expert at Arizona State University, a professor who is also on the board of directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association, verified that the president never said those things — Melvin was unflappable.
“I have no idea who he is or what his political leanings are,” Melvin said.
Ding ding ding! Winner!
So a provable fact is not a fact if one doesn’t know the “political leanings” of the truth teller. What a convenient place for a politician to live. The world must be so much simpler to navigate if the detail that must be verified isn’t the fact, but the messenger.
If only I could have convinced my high school geometry teacher that the issue wasn’t the fact that I could not for the life of me understand isosceles this or hypotenuse that — I didn’t know his political leanings. That’s why I got a D, even with the extra credit for spelling my name correctly.
The same for the mechanic who told me that my car needed an alignment because it was drifting to the right. Oh, an alignment. You get what I’m saying.
So maybe now you can see why I’m thinking that my bathroom scale is a Republican. The same goes for the scale in the doctor’s office, and the one at the Pilates studio and the one in the mall bathroom. I don’t like what they say. They must be wrong.
They must know I’m not a Republican. Do you catch that whiff of conspiracy, too?
Melvin didn’t help himself with more explanation. “It sounded good,” he told Capitol Media’s Howard Fischer. “It seemed like it was something that he would say.”
Not so much. And let’s not forget that the Republican Party of Lincoln’s age has more in common with the Democratic Party platform of today. Views have changed, even if labels haven’t.
I can think of words that sound like something Lincoln would say: “Don’t use my name to try to justify your shortsighted, greed-fueled, selfish ‘Republican’ ideology.”
Or how about, “Dude, check your facts.”