In focusing on America’s rising rates of violent crime leading up to the midterm elections, Republicans were routinely accused of playing a dirty trick on voters.

“We don’t really have a common definition of what crime means,” crime-statistics analyst Jeff Asher asserted in an October interview with NPR. Apparently, the range of activities that constituted a violation of statute made it difficult to discern what voters meant when they said “crime.” And when “crime” wasn’t a nebulous concept that eluded the unsophisticated, it was cast as a problem presided over by Republicans. “Research has repeatedly shown that crime is rising faster in Republican, Trump-supporting states,” wrote Clinton-era Labor Sec. Robert Reich. It certainly wasn’t rising in cities led by lenient progressive prosecutors, as the Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein noted, citing the entirely dispassionate research produced by the Center for American Progress. Indeed, violent crimes such as homicides and rapes were down in 2022, according to the FBI’s midyear survey. “Violent crime is not soaring,” Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank asserted. “In fact, it might be declining.”

These formless arguments orbit around one animating imperative: Neutralize the crime issue. In no less a venue than the Associated Press, a mid-2021 article previewed this approach by castigating the GOP for failing to make sufficient note of (at the time) declining rates of drug offenses and burglaries while recklessly emphasizing your increased risk of being murdered by a stranger. The GOP was deploying “a new twist on an old ‘law and order’ argument from the party’s past, harkening back to President Richard Nixon.” The GOP failed to make note of the “complicated reasons for fluctuating crime rates” in 2020 and early 2021, such as the “protests that erupted after the killing of George Floyd by police”—which were accompanied by a lot of crime and a muted response from law enforcement.

Now that the election has passed, the truth can be told. Indeed, the truth was lacking only in one vital attribute: an angle.

Regarding the AP: “‘Gaslighting’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2022,” they report.

Speaking of mush from the wimp, I give the Biden administration credit for the rise of “gaslighting” to prominence in 2022. However, you will find nary a hint of the administration’s possible contribution to its popularity in the AP story. I pride myself in not having used the word so far in 2022. It has become a mind-numbing cliché. I can’t afford to lose the brain cells.

Of course “gaslighting” is the word of the year — Obama or retreads from his administration are in the Oval Office: