"It doesn't have to be true. It just has to be plausible."
Tom Flanagan's unusually candid statement about the Harper Cons' view of politics received plenty of attention. And rightly so, given how it signals a party and government with absolutely no interest in anything approaching honest discussion or debate.
But the Flanagan view of the world now looks to have been only a first step toward something else entirely. Now, the Cons can't even be bothered to try to be plausible - even in areas where their immediate self-serving assertions can be refuted through evidence which is bound to emerge publicly.
Plenty of stories and columns are now highlighting the revelations emerging from the RCMP's investigation into Mike Duffy's fraudulent expense claims, as well as the joint coverup attempt by the Conservative Party of Canada and Stephen Harper's Prime Minister's Office. And the two most important points look to be the fact that the Conservative Party itself offered to pay hush money to Duffy before haggling over the price, and the the fact that the Duffy payoff was discussed among a number of actors within the PMO rather than being the product of Nigel Wright acting on his own.
Now, both of those revelations are damning enough to begin with. But both also reflect areas where somebody was bound to uncover facts which would contradict the Cons' lies.
Surely nobody writing or dispensing talking points on the Cons' behalf could possibly have believed that the story would simply go away based on a smarmy spokespuppet providing false assurances in the face of multiple ongoing investigations. Which means that the Cons look to have definitively crossed the line between at least trying to maintain some shred of plausibility, and simply saying what they wish to be true with no interest in whether it has any basis in reality or even possibility.
Of course, there are plenty more angles worth covering on the Con/PMO/Duffy payoff - including the Cons' history of such payments documented by Paul Wells and Alison. But the more fundamental story looks to be this: the falsehood-industrial complex encompassing the Cons, their astroturf groups and their political appointees has reached the point where nothing a Con says should be given an ounce of weight absent independent verification.