The atmosphere is thick with misinformation.
And it might be said that the environment is permeated with misbelief.
Misinformation is evident in campaign attacks and criticism by the pro-Trump forces and their lack of regard for the truth – a notable example being what many are calling the "big lie." Fabricated claims and exaggerated boasts are commonplace.
Recall Trump's frequent assertion that he knows more about taxes than anyone else. Now, of course, Trump and some of his financial cadres are facing tax-related legal difficulties. And who could forget "Mexico will pay for the wall" and many further examples. Trump also grossly exaggerates the size of crowds at his rallies. After leaving the White House, Trump and some close allies continue to repeat and rely on unfounded claims, particularly related to the 2020 election.
They insist that Trump won, despite no evidence to support those claims. Indeed, there is near unanimity among local and state election officials that Trump lost. And there is nothing to indicate "mass election fraud" as Trump has argued, even though local and state officials, his own attorney general and large numbers of judges, some of whom he appointed, have ruled against Trump and his backers.
Trump has said 86 election-related lawsuits have been filed. He also alleges his First Amendment rights have been violated by social media companies, accusing them of censoring him and other conservatives, of exhibiting terrible bias. In most cases, the cases have been quickly dismissed.
Trump and many supporters are trying to whitewash the violent melee at the U.S. Capital on Jan. 6.
Meanwhile, internal GOP politics is more and more confusing -- and, as Republican Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says, perplexing. Or, as we might say, bewildering.
All of this takes us in a puzzling direction when you factor in conflicting reports and analysis, disputed numbers and different perspectives. There are, of course, the hard-core Trump supporters who take his word as gospel and will not entertain any alternative ideas.
Many are reluctant or unwilling to take precautions – for example, wearing masks when appropriate. Generally, the U.S. has adequate information, equipment and supplies. However, Arkansas now ranks at or near the bottom among states in percentages of vaccinated individuals.
What is especially bewildering is the large number of eligible citizens who refuse to take advantage of "free shots," with inoculations now readily available without charge. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's administration has even offered incentives such as fishing licenses and lottery tickets, but they were not effective.
Hutchinson says the most powerful incentive is the reality that if Arkansas does not significantly increase its rate of vaccinations, "we won't be getting rid of covid-19 and its spinoffs anytime soon."
Hutchinson points out that a month ago, the state was on a positive track, but then began to stall at about 40 percent. He said the number of active cases was declining and he and many others were optimistic about a "return to normalcy." Hutchinson notes that this was when the Delta variant began to have significant impact and was continuing to accelerate.
As Arkansas finds itself at or near the bottom of various national rankings, it is particularly distressing to see it in this listing.
Hutchinson has recently become the go-to-guy for national media and is a regular commentator and spokesman for Republicans.
Whether Hutchinson can hit that mark will be a significant indicator of the future and of the Republican Party -- and his own future in state and national politics and in the Republican Party, with some touting him as moving away or "distancing" himself from Donald Trump.
Again, the internecine conflict could tell us a lot about where the Republican Party is headed.
The basket of issues is overflowing and commands attention. Some of those issues become entangled with partisan politics, such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan or the disputes over voter rights.
In recent days, Trump doubled down on "voter fraud" while speaking in Dallas at CPAC, a conservative conference. President Biden and his team are, of course, aiming at increasing the number of those who are vaccinated, but they are also dealing with a wide range of topics that can shift the focus to terribly troubled areas already devastated by the pandemic, including the ransomware threats, the recent assassination in Haiti and the battles over You Tube, Facebook and Twitter.
Is Trump-driven politics so weighty and important that it overrides all other considerations?